The tuxedo, which is effectively the traditional uniform of the black tie dress code, is something every man should have the pleasure of wearing at least once in their lifetime. As the default ensemble for formal eveningwear events, it is inherently glamorous, stylish and sophisticated.
So, whther this is your first time donning a penguin suit or you’re looking to upgrade your formalwear to cope with a packed social calendar, here we rundown the considerations you should make prior to purchasing a tux, the brands making the highest quality dinner jackets right now and modern ways you can style it. It’s time to fix up, look sharp.
Dinner Jacket Or Tuxedo?
To dispel any confusion straight away, a tuxedo is a dinner jacket and a dinner jacket is a tuxedo – they are one and the same thing.
Quite why two monikers were applied to essentially the same garment either side of the Atlantic ocean can be explained by the following anecdote: as the story goes, Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & Co was tasked by Edward VII in 1865 to make him a formal jacket he could dine in because he was sick at having to sit in a frock coat with tails all the time.
Poole thus created what is known in the UK as the dinner jacket – a smart peak lapel or shawl lapel black tailored jacket with silk grosgrain lapels and no tails. Being something entirely new and fancy, the dinner jacket caught the eye of one of Poole’s American customers, one James Potter of Tuxedo Park, New York.
Potter took his dinner jacket back to the States, where friends and associates of Potter rather fancied one for themselves, and lo and behold they soon became known as the ‘Tuxedo Boys’ of New York.
Should You Rent Or Buy A Tuxedo?
The question of renting or buying a tuxedo is a bit of a subjective one. If the future opportunities for attending black tie events are slim or next to zero, then renting will certainly be the more affordable option and won’t hijack any space in your wardrobe.
The downside of course is that the rented tuxedo will never look as good as your own, so from a purely aesthetic point of view, we would always recommend you buy one.
It needn’t be wildly expensive either. Of course, you can go the Savile Row route and spend a serious wedge, and luxury designer tuxedos are pretty pricey too, but there are more affordable options of good quality (see our list of brands below) that don’t make the cost-per-wear calculation quite so eye-watering.
The Best Men’s Tuxedo Brands
If you’ve decided to make the investment, these are the tuxedo brands you should be considering, from affordable to luxury.
Favourbrook, located on London’s Pall Mall, was founded by Oliver Spencer over 20 years ago and specialises in men’s formalwear and tailoring. The company produces a stunning perennial collection of black tie options, not least its wool dinner jackets, which it offers in both peak lapel and shawl lapel options.
The cut of the jackets is very classic and timeless so investing in a Favourbrook tuxedo is something you’re going to be able to wear for life, provided you stay trim.
The brand also provide an excellent alterations service to ensure that its off-the-peg tuxedos fit like a made-to-measure service would.
Tom Ford is largely credited for reintroducing black tie and elegant eveningwear into the men’s fashion arena back when he was at Gucci, and since he launched his eponymous label in 2005, the American designer has continued the sartorial angle with some stunning tuxedo styles.
His creations are regulars on the red carpet circuit for good reason – they blend the classic and the contemporary well, with slick double-breasted and midnight navy styles as well as bolder contemporary jacquard options.
Alexander McQueen’s unique brand of tailoring is not for everyone, but if you are looking to elevate your wardrobe with avant-garde silhouettes and contemporary embellishments, there is no better brand.
The house is steeped in tailoring of course, with McQueen himself learning his trade on Savile Row, and Sarah Burton’s expertise in the field unarguable.
The McQueen tuxedo is real red carpet stuff – the house produces an asymmetric style in black grain de poudre with satin peak lapels, which is an absolute head-turner, but you can ramp up the glam even more with its cut-out version that features a deep V neck and cut-out back (probably not for your office Christmas do, but if you happen to be attending the Met gala on the other hand…).
Ede & Ravenscroft
Ede & Ravenscroft, situated at the foot of Savile Row on Burlington Gardens, is London’s oldest tailor, having been founded in 1689. The Royal Warrant holder naturally does a fine line in tailored classics, including stunning iterations of the traditional dinner jacket.
With both single- and double-breasted jacket options cut from 100% pure new wool, as well as peak and shawl lapel styles with silk grosgrain facings, at £495 a pop, Ede & Ravenscroft’s tuxedo jackets represent incredible value from a tailor with such a storied and well-regarded heritage.
Dutch brand Suitsupply changed the tailoring game when it launched in 2000, providing excellent value for money suits and separates cut in high-quality fabrics from some of the best mills in the world.
Naturally then, you can expect a good level of craftsmanship and choice when it comes to the company’s eveningwear. All the traditional styles are there, from black and midnight navy tuxedo jackets with broad peak lapels, to smart contemporary double-breasted versions.
With a dinner jacket and trousers coming in under £800, Suitsupply’s offering will provide a great ROI.
Dolce & Gabbana
If you have ever seen Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria line then you know that the Italian duo love the glamour, and this sense of sartorial fun has filtered down into its off-the-peg tuxedo collection.
With a slim fit and svelte silhouette, Dolce & Gabbana’s tuxedo options are plentiful, with classic black wool and silk styles providing timeless sophistication, alongside more contemporary double-breasted versions in the house’s signature Sicilia fit.
Ralph Lauren Purple Label
Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label has come to represent the pinnacle of classicism when it comes to men’s tailoring.
Using the finest fabrics to create timeless cuts, the Purple Label is of course replete with tuxedo options. Foremost among them is the Gregory tuxedo jacket: a fully canvassed style with shawl lapels (a peak lapel version is also available), handcut from barathea wool by expert Italian tailors and finished with details such as hand-sewn buttonholes and trims.
Rome-based tailoring house Brioni has some of the finest off-the-peg tuxedo jackets that money can buy, and you’ll need a fair wedge of it.
Brioni has not spared any expense in the creation of a quite brilliant tuxedo collection. Its fully lined Policleto tuxedo comes in Super 160s wool, and is a traditional two-button, single-breasted jacket with classic satin peaked lapels.
The Narciso tuxedo jacket is jaw-droppingly expensive but you do get a supremely constructed work of sartorial art, cut from cashmere, wool and mohair.
Bespoke suitmaker Thom Sweeney has a fantastic ready-to-wear collection that includes two dinner suit styles which have been constructed in Italy to the house’s exemplary standards.
Cut with a soft silhouette in a merino and mohair blend, the peak lapel version in midnight navy subtly shapes the wearer’s body for a natural drape. There’s also a classy shawl lapel version – both are single-breasted.
From the lauded French designer, who was the first to appropriate the dinner jacket for his female audience, the inventor of ‘le Smoking’ would be pleased with his fashion house’s current tuxedo offerings for men, which features a trio of stunning single- and double-breasted dinner jackets in grain de poudre wool with satin lapels and silk lining.
Gone are the super-skinny silhouettes of former creative director Hedi Slimane – this current generation of Saint Laurent tailoring, while still svelte, seems better proportioned and very classy.
How to Wear a Tuxedo
While there are lots of different options when dressing for black tie, the black or midnight blue tuxedo is the default standard. It comprises of a black/midnight blue wool jacket (single-breasted is the go-to version but there are plenty of great double-breasted options available, too) with silk grosgrain peak or shawl lapels. It is worn with matching dress trousers that sport a single row of silk braid down each outside leg.
Typically, one’s shirt is a plain white dress shirt cut from midweight marcella cotton, featuring a bib front (although pleats and ruffles are also acceptable), and a black silk or velvet bow tie is the cherry on the sartorial cake (‘Hollywood’ black tie simply swaps out the bow tie for a standard black neck tie).
On your feet should be a gleaming pair of polished black Oxfords, preferably in patent leather, as well as a lightweight pair of black silk socks. Waistcoats are not an option for black tie – the only other garment you can wear on your torso is a cummerbund, and although quite antiquated these days, they can provide a welcome swathe of colour or pattern.
Don’t forget the pocket either. It might be diminutive in size but a well considered flash of silk in your breast pocket can really elevate your look.