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Tuxedo 101

Tuxedo Dress Code Etiquette

Your invitation arrives in the mail. Your cousin's getting married, or you've been invited to a formal business dinner and you're uncertain about what to wear. Sure, you know the occasion requires you arrive in a tuxedo because the "dress code" is stated on the invitation, but you're still not exactly sure what the dress code means.

Nothing's worse than showing up to a formal affair dressed improperly, and since no alpha male should ever be put in that position, the following Black Tie dress codes have been broken down and deciphered to take the guesswork out of dressing for the party.

Black Tie or Black Tie Required

Gentlemen, it gets no more formal and straight forward than this. If this is on the invitation, you can, without reservation, plan on wearing a formal tux with all the bells and whistles. For those who think differently and prefer to show up in your own version of black tie, stay home and don't embarrass yourself or your host. It's that simple. To wear anything other than a tuxedo is offensive and disrespectful to the host and other attendees.

Black Tie Preferred or Black Tie Requested

This pretty much says it all – the host prefers the guests to wear a tuxedo, since the affair is a formal one; however, the words preferred and requested indicate a tuxedo is not mandatory. Typically, the reason a host opts for this dress code is so that men who do not own, or cannot afford to rent a tux, are not excluded as guests. It's really very thoughtful and compromising on the part of the host or hostess, so don't abuse it. If you have access to a tuxedo, wear it, but if you don't, wear the most appropriate suit you own. Black is the color of choice, but if you don't own a black suit, dark suits in charcoal and navy are acceptable. Regardless of the color suit you wear, an elegant white dress shirt is the best option; however, if you have to default to a colored shirt, keep it solid and quiet. If you choose to wear a suit, dress it up with a fancy, stylish tie and dressy accessories that will elevate the status of the suit. You're not attending a business meeting, so conservatism is not the goal, but tastefully dressy is.

Black Tie Optional

Doesn't this mean the same thing as preferred and requested? Basically, yes, but the terminology is usually reserved for large civic and business gatherings, and is not normally found on private event invitations. The affair may be different, but the message is the same – wear a tux if you can, but, if not, resort to a suit. The dress code for this type of event is often looser and unfortunately violated, since the attendees often come from a diverse range of people; some of who may object to wearing a tux for personal reasons. Still, if wearing a tuxedo is not offensive, nor violates your personal belief system, show respect to the host by wearing a tuxedo. If not, apply the same dark suit guidelines found above.

Creative Black Tie

Don't do it unless you're headed to an MTV Music Award Ceremony! The "creative" piece of this code is a leftover from the 1980s when fashion knew no bounds. No surprise that this creative license was, and still is, primarily implemented by younger men wanting to express their individualism... and that it does, but not in a good way! Sure, we still see celebrities strutting their creative selves, but today's universal position on the matter is not what it used to be.  Etiquette experts discourage this dress code across the board, no matter how old the gent is. Hosts should avoid the code because it tends to confuse the guests on how to dress, and guests should avoid falling for the bait. However, if you choose to get creative, limit it to the shirt, tie and accessories. For the rest who would rather not, it's totally acceptable (and recommended) to show up dressed in traditional tuxedo garb.

Today's tuxedo fashions offer men more options than ever before, regardless of the dress code.  Following the recommended dress code is always the way to go; however, there can still be some uncertainty as to what that is, especially among those who don't often wear a tux. If you find yourself in this position, you can always phone the host or hostess and ask what's required, or discuss it with a professional at the tuxedo rental shop. Do whatever it takes to arrive looking like the best dressed man there!

by Aaron Marino

Past Topics

New Topics Added Weekly!
Tuxedo Styles -
March 7, 2013
Most men have the opportunity, at one time or another, to attend a formal affair. Proms, weddings, and other formal or "black tie" events require us to up the ante and look our best by wearing the suit of all suits – the "tuxedo". Although the tux has been subjected to fashion trends throughout the years, it has remained, without question, the most elegant and timeless suit a man can wear, whichRead More»
Remove Stains from Suits, Sport Coats, Slacks -
February 11, 2013
Have you ever spilled something on your suit jacket or nice pants? If you have, you may have done more damage than good. Aaron Marino of alpha m. describes what to do if you stain your suit, sports coat, or slacks. The main point is to not freak out. Take it to the cleaner. Also take preventative measures. Read More»
Shop Around for a Tailor and Dry Cleaner | Save Money on Alterations -
February 4, 2013
Alterations store and the dry cleaners behind Alpha are two separate businesses. Why is he pointing this out?  Aaron Marino of alpha m. says you can save money and negotiate with alterations and dry cleaners. If you need a precise alteration, take your piece (such as a sport coat) to an alteration store rather than a dry cleaner. However, you take your pants to be hemmed at the dry cleaner to savRead More»
Every Man Needs a Lint Roller -
December 13, 2012
Hello black peacoat! What the... Piglet! The cat was all over it! Aaron Marino of alpha m. hates wearing dark clothes with hair and lint all over it. Every man should have a lint roller. No if's, and's, or but's about it... every man needs one! Before you go out, go over the entire piece of dark clothing. You will see that your article is free of hair and lint. Peel away the dirt piece on the lintRead More»

Suit Shopping for the Extra Tall -
December 6, 2012
Modern Tailor Is The Perfect Resource For Tall Men And Suits Alpha will never ever have to worry about this issue; however, Daniel is 6 ft 7 who wear a 42 extra long. This size is not common and is hard (if not impossible) to buy off-the-rack. He's found the 46 long fits in sleeve and jacket length but is big everywhere else. Should he get this size and have it tailored? Alpha says 'no' because thRead More»
Choosing a Tailor -
November 1, 2012
Tailors are the unsung heroes of fashion, who, behind the scenes, perform their magic to make us look our best in the clothes we choose to wear.  Their skillful craftsmanship transforms clothing from the ridiculous to the exquisite through custom alterations that result in perfectly fitted attire.  However, tailors aren't just limited to nips and tucks. Try a tailor on for size to experience theRead More»
Make Your Suit Look Expensive | Copy High End Aspects of Suits  -
August 17, 2012
Modern Tailor | Enter ALPHAM10 for 10% Off Entire Order Aaron Marino Store Alpha loves wearing suits. Nothing makes him feel more confident and sexy than a great fitting suit. A man's suit is the modern day equivalent of a suit of armor-- the same 'don't eff with me' because 'I am the man and I have panache'! Aaron Marino of alpha m. discusses the various elements that make a suit high-end and Read More»
Alpha M. Travel Packing Tip | Garment Bag -
July 4, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. displays his methods for wrinkle-free packing and traveling with suits, dress shirts, slacks, and sports coats. Generally when you use a garment bag, the items don't need to be ironed when you arriving at your destination. Aaron demonstrates unzipping the bag, compartments for shoes & belts, secret compartments for underwear, and the hook area for hanging your clothes.Read More»
Taking Clothing Measurements for Custom Clothing -
May 1, 2012
Aaron Marino of alpha m. talks about men's custom clothing and Modern Tailor which results in questions about how to take measurements. Alpha suggests ways to take measurements and ensure the purchase of perfect fitting shirts or suits. First, start with a flexible tape measurement (not a rigid, metal one). The more accurate, the better your clothing will turn out. Second, you can take the measurRead More»

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