The Cummerbund: What is it and How to Wear One

mens cummerbund

Written by Tanya Zhang

Introduction to the Cummerbund

When it comes to formal or black tie dress codes, the cummerbund is a classic accessory that has been worn for centuries. Originally popularized in India during the British colonial period, the cummerbund made its way to the Western world as a stylish addition to the tuxedo.

Today, the cummerbund continues to be a popular choice for formal occasions, but there are many questions and misconceptions surrounding its use.

In this article, we'll answer some of the most common questions about the cummerbund. We'll cover topics such as when to wear a cummerbund, how to wear it properly, and whether it's necessary to match it with a bow tie.

Whether you're attending a black tie gala or simply looking to add some sophistication to your outfit, the cummerbund is a timeless accessory that can elevate your look and make you feel like a true gentleman for black tie events.

Origin of the Cummerbund

The cummerbund is a broad waist sash that is typically worn with a formal dress or black tie attire, such as a tuxedo. According to "A Fashion History of Cummerbunds", "The cummerbund came into being in the 1600s when British military officers in colonial India adopted the style" to cope with the extreme heat of India. The cummerbund was made of lightweight cotton or silk and was worn around the natural waist to help keep the body cool.

The cummerbund was later adopted by civilians as a fashionable accessory, particularly for formal occasions. It became a popular alternative to the vest, or waistcoat, in the early 20th century and remains a popular choice for a formal dress today.

The name "cummerbund" comes from the Hindi word "kamarband," which means "waistband." The original Indian cummerbunds were often brightly colored and decorated with elaborate embroidery or beading.

Today, the cummerbund is typically worn in black or a muted color to match the tuxedo or formal attire.

mens black cummerbund

What to Wear with a Cummerbund

When wearing a cummerbund, it is important to choose the right shirt, shoes, jacket, and accessories to complete the overall look. Here are some guidelines:


  • A dress shirt with a wingtip collar or a turndown collar is typically worn with a cummerbund. 

  • The shirt should have French cuffs, which can be fastened with cufflinks. Here is a guide on how to put on cufflinks.


  • Black patent leather shoes are the traditional choice to wear with a cummerbund.

  • They should be well-polished and have a sleek, formal appearance.


  • A tuxedo jacket or dinner jacket is typically worn with a cummerbund.

  • The jacket should be black or dark blue and made of a high-quality wool or silk fabric.

dark color men's suit or dinner jacketAccessories:

  • A bow tie is a traditional choice to wear with a cummerbund.

  • A pocket square can add a touch of elegance to the outfit.

  • Cufflinks should be worn with the French cuffs of the dress shirt.

  • A watch can be worn, but it should be understated and not draw too much attention away from the overall look. 

It is important to keep the outfit sleek, elegant, and understated, with attention to detail and high-quality materials.

Color Matching with your Cummerbund

Matching the colors of your cummerbund with the rest of your men's formal wear attire is important to create a cohesive and polished look. Here are some general tips on how to do so:

  1. Consider the color of your jacket and trousers: If you're wearing a black tuxedo or dinner jacket, a black cummerbund will generally be the best option. If you're wearing a navy or dark blue jacket, a dark blue or midnight blue cummerbund can work well. For lighter-colored jackets, such as grey or beige, consider a lighter-colored cummerbund such as silver or champagne.

  2. Choose a complementary or contrasting color: If you want to add a bit of color to your outfit, choose a cummerbund that complements or contrasts with the color of your jacket or shirt. For example, if you're wearing a black jacket and white shirt, burgundy or dark red cummerbund can add a pop of color while still maintaining a formal look.

  3. Don't forget about your bowtie: If you're wearing a bowtie with your cummerbund, make sure that the colors of the two accessories complement each other. For example, if you're wearing a black bow tie, a black cummerbund is the most appropriate choice.

  4. Consider the occasion: The formality of the event can also dictate the color of your cummerbund. For very formal events, such as white tie events, a black or white cummerbund is typically the most appropriate choice. For less formal events, such as weddings or charity galas, you can experiment with other colors and patterns.

The key black tie outfit is to create a cohesive and polished look that is appropriate for the occasion. Here's more about the black tie dress code.

When to Wear a Tuxedo Cummerbund

Traditionally, a tuxedo cummerbund is worn with a tuxedo for formal evening events or black tie events. It is typically worn with a bow tie and a dress shirt with French cuffs. The cummerbund should be worn with the pleats facing up and the waistband positioned at the waistline, covering the band of the trousers.

This creates a streamlined look, while also helping to keep the shirt tucked in and preventing any unsightly bulges. It also adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the overall look.

The cummerbund is a popular choice for formal events such as black tie events, charity galas, and awards ceremonies and is usually paired with a black bow tie to complete the formal wear look.

If you are unsure of the dress code or if the event is less formal, it may be best to opt for black tie attire in a suit or a dressier outfit without a cummerbund. tuxedo accessory cummerbund

Dress Codes to Wear a Cummerbund

Cummerbunds are generally considered appropriate for formal dress codes, such as a black tie event or a white-tie event. These events typically include weddings, galas, charity events, and other formal occasions where guests are expected to dress in their finest attire.

Cummerbunds are often seen as traditional formal tuxedo accessories for a black tie event. These events typically require men to wear a tuxedo or dinner jacket with matching trousers, a white dress shirt, and a black bowtie. A cummerbund can be worn in place of a vest and helps to create a clean and polished look by covering the waistband of the trousers.

For white tie events, which are even more formal than black tie events, a cummerbund is typically not worn. Instead, men are expected to wear a white vest, which provides a more formal and traditional look.

It's always a good idea to check the dress code of an event before deciding whether to wear a cummerbund or not. If the dress code is unclear, it's better to err on the side of dressing more formally, especially if it's a special occasion.

How to Wear a Cummerbund

Putting on a cummerbund is a fairly straightforward process. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Start by putting on your dress shirt and pants. Make sure that your shirt is tucked in and your pants are pulled up to your natural waist.

  2. Hold the cummerbund with the pleats facing upward, and wrap it around your waist, just above your pants. The cummerbund should be snug but not too tight.

  3. Secure the cummerbund in the back by fastening the hooks or clasps. The cummerbund should sit flat against your waist, with no bunching or wrinkles.

  4. Adjust the pleats facing upward so they are evenly spaced. The pleats should help to create a streamlined appearance and cover the waistband of your pants.

  5. If you are wearing a bow tie, adjust it so that it sits correctly around your neck and complements the cummerbund.

  6. Finally, put on your jacket and adjust the fit as necessary. The cummerbund should be hidden by the jacket, but the pleats should still be visible at the bottom.

Cummerbund Etiquette

Here are some do's and don'ts when it comes to wearing or matching with a cummerbund:


  1. Do wear a cummerbund with a tuxedo or other formalwear. A cummerbund can help to create a streamlined look and add a touch of elegance to your outfit.

  2. Do choose a cummerbund that matches your tuxedo or suit. While it doesn't necessarily have to be an exact match, it should complement the color and style of your outfit.

  3. Do adjust the pleats on your cummerbund so that they are evenly spaced and facing up. This will help to create a more polished look.

  4. Do wear a cummerbund that fits properly. It should be snug but not too tight, and sit flat against your waist.

  5. Do wear a cummerbund with a bow tie, if you choose to wear one. The two formal tuxedo accessories complement each other and help to create a cohesive look.


  1. Don't wear a cummerbund with a belt. The cummerbund is meant to serve as a replacement for a belt, and wearing both can create a bulky and unflattering look.

  2. Don't wear a cummerbund with suspenders. Similar to wearing a belt, wearing suspenders with a cummerbund can create an unappealing and unnecessary layering effect.

  3. Don't wear a cummerbund that clashes with your outfit. While you don't have to match it exactly, make sure that the colors and patterns complement each other.

  4. Don't wear a cummerbund that is too loose or too tight. A poorly fitting cummerbund can be uncomfortable and detract from the overall look of your outfit.

  5. Don't wear a cummerbund that is too casual for the occasion. While the cummerbund can be a stylish accessory, it is not appropriate for every event. Make sure to consider the formality of the occasion before wearing a cummerbund.

Best Bow Ties and Cummerbund Sets

Both accessories have been traditionally worn with formal wear, particularly with tuxedos or dinner jackets. The cummerbund was originally designed as a functional accessory to help cover the waistband of trousers, but it has since become a popular style element. The pleats on a cummerbund are designed to face upwards and create a subtle visual interest in the waistline.

Meanwhile, the bowtie is a classic alternative to a necktie and has long been associated with formal events. When paired with a cummerbund, the two accessories can complement each other nicely. They are often seen together as they both add a touch of elegance to the outfit, and they can create a polished, cohesive look.

When it comes to matching the two accessories, it's not necessary for the colors or patterns to be identical, but they should complement each other. A black bowtie, for example, can pair well with a black or navy cummerbund. Alternatively, a cummerbund and bowtie in the same material or color family, such as a navy bowtie with a lighter blue cummerbund, can create a subtle contrast and still look coordinated.

Ultimately, whether you choose to wear a bowtie, or a clip on bow tie, with a cummerbund is a matter of personal preference and the dress code of the event you're attending. Here are a few of our recommended bow tie and cummerbund sets:

  1. Men's Premium 100% Silk Cummerbund, Bow Tie, Handkerchief Set
    best cummerbund and bow tie set 1 amazon

  2. Men's Paisley Cummerbund and Bow Tie Hanky Setcummerbund and bow tie set from amazon

  3. Men's Adjustable Satin and Paisley Cummerbund Setcummerbund and bow tie set from amazon set 3

Cumberbund or Cummerbund Spelling

The correct spelling is "cummerbund". However, due to its pronunciation, some people might spell it as "cumberbund". Nonetheless, the correct spelling is with a double "m".

Cummerbund vs Vest vs Suspenders

Traditionally, a cummerbund is worn in place of a vest or waistcoat as a formal waist covering. Therefore, it is not usually worn with a vest or waistcoat. Similarly, suspenders or braces are an alternative to wearing as waist coverings a cummerbund or vest and are usually not worn together.

However, fashion and style are always evolving, and there may be situations where it is appropriate or fashionable to wear a cummerbund with a vest or suspenders. For example, some fashion-forward individuals may choose to it with a vest for a layered and textured look, or suspenders and a cummerbund for added support and coverage.

If you choose to wear a cummerbund with a vest or suspenders, it's important to make sure that the overall look is cohesive and balanced. For example, you might choose a cummerbund and vest in complementary colors or patterns, or wear suspenders that match the color of your cummerbund. Ultimately, the decision to wear a cummerbund with a vest or suspenders is a matter of personal style and preference.

Frequently asked questions about the Cummerbund

Do The Bow Tie and Cummerbund Have To Match?

Traditionally, the bow tie and cummerbund worn with a tuxedo are designed to match. However, it is not necessary for the two accessories to be an exact match, and there are some situations in which it may be appropriate to mix and match the colors or patterns.

What was the purpose of a cummerbund?

The purpose of a cummerbund is to create a streamlined look and to prevent any unsightly bulges caused by the shirt from becoming untucked.

Is it spelled cummerbund or Cumberbund?

The correct spelling is "cummerbund".

Is the cummerbund out of style?

The cummerbund is still considered a classic accessory for formal occasions and is not completely out of style. However, like any fashion item, its popularity may ebb and flow over time.

Does a tuxedo need a cummerbund?

A tuxedo does not necessarily need a cummerbund, but it is a traditional accessory that can enhance the overall look of the outfit.

Should I wear a cummerbund with my tuxedo?

If you are attending a formal event with a traditional black-tie dress code, a cummerbund is considered a classic accessory and can enhance the overall look of the outfit. Outside of that, it is up to your personal preference.

Is it OK to wear a tux without a Cumberbund?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to wear a tuxedo without a cummerbund. The cummerbund is a traditional accessory that is often worn with a tuxedo, but it is not necessary to complete the outfit.

What is a cummerbund on a plate carrier?

A cummerbund on a plate carrier is a type of accessory that is used to provide additional support and stability to the wearer. A plate carrier is a piece of tactical gear that is worn by military and law enforcement personnel, as well as civilians for personal protection

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