When it comes to formal wear, there is to be a lot of discussion about when it’s proper to wear a tuxedo, and when it’s proper to wear a suit.
And to be fair, this is an important conversation to have—because you always want to be dressed appropriately for the occasion.
But here’s another crucial question that sometimes throws people for a loop:
Technically, what is the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?
Nowadays, suits and tuxedos can sometimes look quite similar.
So understanding the basics of how to tell them apart is actually important.
And in this post, that’s exactly what you’re going to learn.
Let’s dive in and talk about it.
4 Telltale Differences between Tuxedos and Suits
1. Satin Details
The most reliable method for telling a tuxedo apart from a suit is the fact that tuxedos are decorated with satin details, while suits all consist of the same material.
On most tuxedos, you’ll find satin-faced lapels, satin buttons, and even a satin side-stripe down the pant leg.
Even on more ‘modern’ tuxedos that don’t necessarily contain all of these details, you’ll at least see satin trim on the lapels, and a thin stripe running down the pant leg.
Suits, on the other hand, won’t contain these hints of satin in the trim.
A suit will usually also alternatively be equipped with fabric-covered, plastic, or even bone buttons.
This is the best and easiest way to tell a tuxedo apart from a suit.
2. The Range of Accessories
When you rent a tuxedo, you’ll notice that it comes with a range of important accessories. Depending on style, you may also receive:
- A cummerbund
- A waistcoat
- A bowtie
While suits, on the other hand, do not require all of these pieces in order to be deemed ‘acceptable’ or to look great.
For example, you can wear a suit coat without a vest. But you would likely never do this with a tuxedo coat.
The range of accessories can give you another important ‘clue’ as to whether you’re looking at a suit or a tuxedo.
3. The Shirt Style
The vast majority of tuxedos are black.
While tuxedos can sometimes come in a range of colors, the shirts don’t really tend to vary much.
Tuxedos are generally worn with white shirts that either have a turndown collar or wing collar.
Suits, on the other hand, can be and will be worn with shirts in a wide variety of different colors and/or styles.
Looking at what shirt a person is wearing under the jacket can definitely give you a clue as to how the entire ensemble would officially be categorized.
4. The Shoes
And finally, you can usually tell a lot about the outfit by taking a good look at the shoes.
Tuxedos are almost always worn with black patent shoes.
Suits, on the other hand, can be worn with oxfords, slip-ons, or even something more casual (think sneakers or tennis shoes, cowboy boots, etc.).
You would never wear these types of shoes with a tuxedo—which tells you that shoe choice is not only important, but that it can also be used as a clue to help you figure out whether or not a particular outfit would fall into the ‘tux’ or ‘suit’ category.
Renting a Tuxedo vs. Buying a Tuxedo
Another difference between tuxedos and suits is that more people tend to purchase their own suits.
Well, since tuxedos are really only designed to be worn for black-tie and formal occasions, there usually just aren’t going to be as many occasions where you’ll be required to wear one.
You can find a wide range of tuxedos available on our website.
You’ll also find that ordering/renting tuxedos is usually easier and more efficient—especially if you rarely attend formal events more than a couple of times per year.
There you have it!
Now you know the key differences between a tuxedo and a suit.
If you’re looking for a tuxedo for your next formal event, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop by.
We’d love to get you fitted and find you the perfect option.
We know a thing or two about tuxedos, and would love to give you hand.