Tux vs Suit: the basics

Both consist of a jacket-shirt-pants combo, but how much do you know the nuances that separate a tuxedo from a suit? Either works for a wedding—it comes down to personal style and what suits (pun intended) the formality of the ceremony. Know how to spot the difference…

The tuxedo distinguishes itself as the more formal option through detailing. The jacket tends to be a one-button affair that includes contrast detailing on the lapel.

The more formal ‘pointed’ lapel is so called because the tips point upwards towards the shoulder. Tuxedo trouser legs are usually not cuffed and may include satin detail as per the lapel. The tux shirt includes a pleated ‘bib’ detail at the front. Ruffled shirting is an option, albeit a rather flamboyant one.

Shirt collars may vary: the traditional tuxedo wing collar (small points folded forward to sit out horizontally from the neck), the mandarin collar (short, oriental style with no fold), conventional point collar or wider-spanning spread collar. The French sleeve cuff folds over on itself, fastened with cufflinks for a stiffened effect. A cummerbund or waistcoat (never both) is worn underneath. Secure trousers with suspenders and finish with a bow or Ascot tie.

Generally less ritzy in design, the suit jacket features two or three buttons and a conventional step lapel—the kind that is notched below the collar. The shawl lapel is considered more formal, sweeping up and around the neck in one continuous piece and can be found on a tux or suit. The fabric on a suit is uniform all over, devoid of the contrasting textures and extraneous detailing set the tuxedo apart as a formal look. The suit’s more somber finish makes it much more versatile.

Likewise, pants and shirting are more simply executed with plainer detailing like single button or double button ‘barrel’ cuffs, which can be worn with or without cufflinks.

Waistcoats may be incorporated into the look, something that may hold particular appeal during the cooler months. Unlike a tuxedo, which will mostly be either black or white, suits adopt a variety of colour palettes.

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