Tuxedo vs Suit

black satin lapel on a tuxedo jacket with bow tie

Written by Tanya Zhang

Introduction to Tuxedo vs Suit

You might be confused about what makes a tuxedo and suit different from one another. Both garments are formal attire worn for special occasions. Constructed with many similarities, choosing between a tuxedo and a suit can be daunting especially when making sure you are not overdressed or underdressed for the occasion.

While there are some key differences between tuxedos and suits, both garments share similarities in terms of their formality, materials, and versatility in accessorizing and evening attire. "Dress codes can reveal social aspirations, political ideals, says Stanford scholar" so it's important to dress intentionally.

We'll break down all the components when it comes to tuxedos vs suit from the traditional tuxedo and jacket to dress shirts to the dress code.

difference between a suit and a tux infographic

Tuxedo Jacket vs Suit Jacket

One of the most noticeable differences between a tuxedo jacket and a suit jacket is the lapels. Tuxedo jackets typically have either satin or grosgrain lapels, while suit jackets usually have a notch lapel or a peak lapel. Here's a separate guide on how a suit jacket should fit. The satin or grosgrain lapel on a tuxedo jacket gives it a more formal and luxurious appearance than the notch lapels on a suit jacket.

Another difference between tuxedo jackets and standard suit jackets is the number of buttons. Tuxedo jackets usually have either one button or two buttons, while suit jackets can have one, two, or three buttons.

The one-button tuxedo jacket is the most formal option, while the two-button tuxedo jacket is slightly less formal. The number of buttons on the difference between a tuxedo and suit jacket doesn't necessarily impact its formality. We also wrote this separate guide on the nuances between semi-formal vs formal.

Tuxedo jackets may also have unique details like satin-covered buttons or a satin stripe down the sides of wing collar of the jacket. These details are not typically found on business suit jackets and add to the formal appearance of the tuxedo.

Finally, tuxedo jackets are traditionally worn with matching pants that have a black satin or grosgrain stripe down the sides. They are also more limited in their styling and wearing options than suits.

 

Tuxedo Shirt vs Suit Shirt

Next, we'll move on to the type of shirt usually accompanied by a tux vs suit. The first difference between tuxedo shirts and suit shirts is the collar. Tuxedo shirts and white dress shirts will typically have a wingtip collar, which is a formal and classic collar style that stands up and has pointed tips. Our favorite slim fit white dress shirt here. On the other hand, suit shirts can have various collar styles, including spread, point, and button-down collars.

white dress shirt for suit

Another difference between tuxedo shirts and suit shirts is the front closure. Tuxedo shirts typically have a bib front, which is a panel of pleated fabric that covers the buttons and gives the tux jacket shirt a formal and elegant appearance. Suit shirts, on the other hand, usually have a plain front with no pleated shirt or bib.

Tuxedo shirts also typically have French cuffs, which are cuffs that are folded back and fastened with cufflinks, while suit shirts can have either French cuffs or barrel cuffs, which are cuffs that are fastened with buttons.

Finally, tuxedo shirts are traditionally worn with bow ties, with a bow tie, while suit shirts can be worn with a slim tie or bow tie.

Tuxedo shirts have a wingtip collar, a bib front, French cuffs, and are worn with a bow tie, while suit shirts can have a variety of collar styles and front closures, can have either French or barrel cuffs.

french cuffs on men's white formal shirt

Tuxedo Pants vs Suit Pants

Let's talk about modern tuxedos pants next. Tuxedo pants typically have a satin or grosgrain stripe down the side, while suit pants do not, and it adds to the formality of the tuxedo.

Tuxedo pants are also usually made from a finer wool or silk blend, while suit pants can be made from a variety of fabrics, including wool, cotton, and linen. Check out our full guide on what are slacks for men.

Tuxedo pants are also traditionally worn with a satin or grosgrain waistband. Suit pants typically have a standard waistband made from the same material or the same fabric, as the pants.

Finally, tuxedo pants are typically worn with suspenders or braces, while suit pants can be worn with a belt or suspenders.

 

Tuxedo Shoes vs Suit Shoes

The main difference between tuxedo shoes and suit shoes is the style. Tuxedo shoes are typically black patent leather or high-gloss leather oxfords or loafers with a sleek and shiny finish.

Suit shoes can be a variety of styles, including oxfords, loafers, brogues, and derby shoes. They may also have a matte finish or a slight shine, but not as high-gloss as tuxedo shoes.

Tuxedo shoes typically have a leather sole, while suit shoes can have a variety of soles, including leather, rubber, or synthetic materials.

Tuxedo shoes also can have a low heel or no heel at all, while suit shoes can have a higher heel. Tuxedo pants are generally tailored to be shorter than suit pants usually are, which makes tuxedo shoes more visible.

Finally, tuxedo shoes are usually worn with black dress socks, while suit shoes can be worn with a variety of sock colors and patterns.

Tuxedo vs Suit for a Wedding

Deciding between a tuxedo and a suit for a wedding depends on the level of formality of the event and the preferences of the couple. Here are some general guidelines:

For a black-tie wedding dress code, a tuxedo is an appropriate choice. A black or midnight blue tuxedo with a white dress shirt, black bow tie, and black patent leather shoes is a classic and timeless look for a formal wedding!

navy blue suit on man wearing white dress shirt with slim tie

If the wedding is less formal or the couple prefers to wear a more casual look, a suit can be a good alternative. We have a whole guide on how to buy a suit here.

For a semi-formal or daytime wedding, a suit is a more versatile option. A navy or charcoal suit is a safe choice for a semi-formal wedding, and lighter-colored suits can work well for daytime weddings. The suit can be paired with a light blue striped dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes for a classic look.

Ultimately, the choice between a tuxedo and a suit for a wedding depends on the dress code and the preferences of the couple. If the dress code specifies a black tie event, a tuxedo is an appropriate choice. If the dress code is semi-formal or not specified, a suit is a more versatile option. The couple should also consider their personal style and the overall wedding theme, and the formality of the wedding when making their decision.

When to Wear a Tuxedo vs Suit?

Knowing when to wear a tuxedo versus a suit can depend on the special occasion, and the level of formality required.

A tuxedo is appropriate for very formal events, such as black-tie weddings, galas, and formal awards ceremonies. A tuxedo is also typically required for high-level events such as state dinners or royal weddings. For a "white tie" or "black tie" dress code, a tuxedo is an appropriate choice for a formal event.

A suit is appropriate for less formal events, such as business meetings, job interviews, and office events. Suits are also appropriate for semi-formal and more formal events, such as weddings, funerals, and dinner parties. For these types of events, a dark-colored suit in navy, black, or charcoal is a safe choice.

dark navy suit jacket with matching blue tie

Some events may require a specific type of suit, such as a morning suit for a daytime wedding or a linen suit for a summer event. It's always a good idea to check the dress code for any event you plan to attend and follow it appropriately.

The choice between wearing a tuxedo and a suit depends on the level of formality required for the occasion. A tuxedo is a more formal and elegant option, while a suit is a more versatile and practical option.

 men's black tuxedo with black bowtie and buttons

Frequently asked questions about Tuxedo vs Suit

Is a tuxedo more formal than a suit?

Yes, a tuxedo is generally considered more formal than a suit and is typically reserved for the most formal occasions such as black-tie events, while suits are suitable for a wide range of events from business meetings to weddings.

Can you wear a normal suit as a tuxedo?

No, a normal suit cannot be worn as a tuxedo as they have different styles and details that make them distinct from each other.

Should you wear a suit or tux to a wedding?

It depends on the formality of the wedding, with a tuxedo being appropriate for a formal or black-tie wedding and a suit being suitable for a semi-formal or less formal wedding.

Is a tux nicer than a suit?

While a tux might usually have higher quality fabrics than a suit, it really depends on the dress code of the event.

What is difference between suit and tuxedo?

The main differences between a suit and a tuxedo are the level of formality, the style details, and the appropriate occasions to wear them. Suits are typically more versatile and can be worn for a wide range of occasions, while tuxedos are reserved for the most formal events.

What's the difference between a coat and a tux?

A coat is a general term that refers to any outer garment that can be worn for warmth or protection, while a tuxedo is a specific type of formalwear that consists of a dinner jacket (also known as a tuxedo jacket), matching trousers, and typically includes a formal dress shirt, bow tie, and other accessories.

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