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The tuxedo: everything you need to know about this gentleman’s essential

The tuxedo: everything you need to know about this gentleman's essential

If you’ve always wanted to know what you need to know when shopping for a tuxedo (also known as a dinner jacket), Gentologie is here, along with Jean-Michel Bonin from the Clusier boutique, to help you look as stylish as James Bond when he dons his favourite gear at your next evening or ball.

Table of contents

  1. The origin of the name Tuxedo
  2. The different criteria for choosing the right tuxedo
    1. The choice: Trust the evening and your intuition
    2. Renting or buying your tuxedo?
    3. The difference between hight-end and entry-level products
    4. To dare or not to dare
    5. Fit or not?
  3. Tuxedo essentials: the accessories (shirt, bow tie, suspenders, etc.)
    1. Shirt, the front pivotal element
    2. Shirt sleeves – an important detail
    3. What to choose from the little extras?
    4. For trousers, suspenders or cummerbund?
    5. Bow tie, the masterpiece of the tuxedo look
    6. Shoes, the final piece of the tuxedo puzzle

 


The origin of the name Tuxedo

Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond in a Tom Ford tuxedoPhoto : © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC et MGM. All rights reserved.

Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond in a Tom Ford tuxedo
Photo : © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC et MGM. All rights reserved.

According to Wikipedia, Tuxedo in the context of menswear originated in the United States around 1888. It was named after Tuxedo Park, a Hudson Valley enclave for New York’s social elite where it was often seen in its early years. The term was capitalized until the 1930s and traditionally referred only to a white jacket. When the jacket was later paired with its own unique trousers and accessories in the 1900s, the term began to be associated with the entire suit. Sometimes it is shortened to “tux” or dinner jacket as the British commonly said.

In French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Persian, Turkish, and other European languages the style is referred to with the pseudo-anglicism smoking (esmoquin). This generic colloquialism is a false friend deriving from its similarity with the 19th-century smoking jacket. In French the dress code may also be called “cravate noire”, a term that is sometimes adopted directly into English as “black tie”.


 


The different criteria for choosing the right tuxedo


 


The choice: Trust the evening and your intuition

A magnificent smoking with an ETON shirt and bow tiePhoto: ETON

A magnificent smoking with an ETON shirt and bow tie
Photo: ETON

Mr. Bonin’s first piece of advice is to find out about the nature of the event. “Is it a Black Tie or White Tie soirée or something else? But when it comes to evening wear, tuxedo is really the way to go,” he explains. He also suggests that the choice of colours depends on the time of year: burgundy or dark green, and velvet in autumn and winter. For spring or summer, why not go for lighter fabrics, but most people will go for black or dark blue, even in the warmer seasons. Mr. Bonin points out that there are also floral patterns which, while not dazzling, can be very good for certain events.

With so many options, it can be hard to get lost. Mr. Bonin reminds us to choose an outfit we’ll feel comfortable in, as it can be confusing trying on a dinner jacket for the first time. You can, of course, opt for the classic white shirt (I love ETON, who makes some superb ones), black trousers with silk braiding and a black jacket. Otherwise, the owner of Clusier advises us to opt for tones that will suit you rather than going for what might be trendy, so we at Gentologie think it’s best to avoid those with logos that are too obvious. Don’t forget black shoes, the moccasin can also be elegant, depending on the occasion, of course.


 


Renting or buying your tuxedo?

Many men prefer to rent their tuxedo because the cost may seem lower at first. We’re talking less than $500 to rent the complete ensemble, while a made-to-measure/semi-suited tuxedo starts at around $2,000. If you wear your outfit four times over the next 10 years (the estimated time a tuxedo will last), you’ll get your money’s worth, but that’s just the first point. The second point Mr. Bonin made to me is fit. Sometimes, a rental tuxedo won’t be perfect for you, it won’t be right for your figure. Also, if you have your own tuxedo, you won’t be in the running for last-minute invitations—you’ll say yes to every event! And as a bonus, you’ll look magnificent.


 


The difference between hight-end and entry-level products

Daniel Craig in a Tom Ford tuxedoPhoto: OMEGA

Daniel Craig in a Tom Ford tuxedo
Photo: OMEGA

If you compare a Tom Ford (above) or a Canali with a Samuelsohn or Luigi Bianchi (editor’s note: as I own them), the difference, says Mr. Bonin, is often in the fabric, the tailoring, the personalization and the fit. Allow a few weeks for delivery of your made-to-measure dinner jacket, so plan ahead. Always go with your budget and your needs.


 


To dare or not to dare

Following the established rules of the tuxedo rather than breaking with convention is a rule that dominates at Clusier. Often, the style can easily be less tasteful.


 


Fit or not?

Tuxedo---LBM---Dark-blue

A Luigi Bianchi Mantova tuxedo in dark blue
Photo: Luigi Bianchi

Although we live in a time when many items of clothing are worn very tightly, tuxedo trousers should not be too tight. They should fall nicely over your shoes. Tuxedo trousers are also worn a little longer and the waist is often higher. Also, if you want the perfect style, don’t forget the braces or the cummerbund (not both), as the tuxedo trousers didn’t have any belt loops. Bear in mind that the braces often ride up the trousers, and this can be uncomfortable for some. What’s more, Bonin reminds us that a looser-fitting garment tends to wear less prematurely. This is good advice for all your future clothing purchases.

In a tuxedo, there must be a certain construction at the shoulders, says Bonin, “A tuxedo with a dropped shoulder is not the right style of garment. There are 3 types of lapel: the shawl lapel, the peak lapel and the notch lapel, which sometimes looks older.


 


Tuxedo essentials: the accessories (shirt, bow tie, suspenders, etc.)


 


Shirt, the front pivotal element

An ETON tuxedo shirt bibPhoto: ETON

An ETON tuxedo shirt bib
Photo: ETON

When it comes to choosing a shirt, it is important to take a look at the collar. You have many options. The wing collar or butterfly collar is more of a “white tie” style, which is a dressier grade than a “black tie” evening. The addition of shirts with bibs (not to be worn outside a tuxedo), belts and butterfly collars has become less fashionable in recent years, as modern styles have taken over. Mr Bonin also points out that there are several shirts where the buttons are not visible, known as “fly fronts”.

 


Shirt sleeves – an important detail

Mastering the shirt sleeves is essential for a great tuxedo lookPhoto: ETON

Mastering the shirt sleeves is essential for a great tuxedo look
Photo: ETON

The tuxedo’s ally is the shirt with cufflinks, at all times,” reminds the owner of Clusier. The shirt should extend about half an inch beyond the jacket sleeve. It’s also a good idea to try on your tuxedo with your cuff-link shirt, to measure the width of the sleeve and check whether it can accommodate the shirt cuff, because shirt cuffs are often wider.


 


What to choose from the little extras?

The pocket square is an essential to compte the tuxedo perfect lookPhoto : Samuelsohn

The pocket square is an essential to compte the tuxedo perfect look
Photo : Samuelsohn

Do you go for the pocket square or the flower? And what colour? For Mr. Bonin the flower is at its best when worn at wedding ceremonies, while for the classic, the square or pointed white pocket square will be the perfect complement to your outfit.


 


For trousers, suspenders or cummerbund?

A little clarification, as we said earlier, but if you decide to go for the cummerbund, it is this piece only, not the suspenders, which is very important, otherwise you will be uncomfortable and ugly. It is a choice you have to make.


 


Bow tie, the masterpiece of the tuxedo

Bow tie, the perfect aly of the tuxedoPhoto: ETON

Bow tie, the perfect ally of the tuxedo
Photo: ETON

Gentologie recommends a hand-tied bow tie rather than a pre-tied one, but I’ll come back to that in another article.


 


Shoes, the final piece of the tuxedo puzzle

Shoes-Highbury-by-Crockett-and-Jones

Highbury shoes by Crockett & Jones
Photo: Crockett & Jones

For shoes, go for a classic black, if you choose something bright, go for the whole shoe. Our model gentleman, Mr. James Bond, wear the Highbury model in Dying Can Wait, available from Crockett & Jones.

To find out more about James Bond’s tuxedo in ’No Time To Die’, you can see the details here.

Of course, our logical choice for shopping is Clusier, where you’ll find brands like Canali, Samuelsohn and Luigi Bianchi tuxedos and Eton shirts, while if you’re looking for Tom Ford, you’ll find it at Holt Renfrew or Harry Rosen in Canada, where other countries have their own flagship store.

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