The tuxedo has become the go-to fancy outfit for men. It’s such a perfect outfit for formal wear, it’s been made to suit the female body, too. The tuxedo has become a uniform of sorts.
Every Hollywood actor wears one on the red carpet, many grooms wear them at the wedding, it’s the thing you reach for when you need to look your absolute best. But there’s a lot more than one type of tuxedo look out there. What do you need to know about the different types of tuxedo pants, how to wear them and why you should choose certain types to wear? I
t’s time to learn more about styling a tuxedo and just how this classic piece of fashion came to be.
How the Tuxedo Came to Be
The tuxedo is an iconic piece of fashion, a highly recognizable item. Everyone’s seen one, many people have worn one…and everyone wants to claim they invented it. The tuxedo has several different legends associated with it, multiple stories about where it came from and how it was created.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the tuxedo originates with the future King Edward VII. In 1865, he was the Prince of Wales as the son and heir of Queen Victoria. He needed a suit that was fancy but without the tails on a tailcoat. He went to Savile Row, the center for fashion in London, and to tailor Henry Pool & Co. Soon enough, the Prince of Wales had himself a dinner jacket.
It wouldn’t be called a tuxedo until later. How the name came to be is the second part of the story.
American millionaire James Brown Potter met the Prince in 1886. The Prince took a liking to Potter and sent him to the tailor to be fitted for a new dinner jacket. Potter ended up wearing the outfit to an Autumn Ball event in Tuxedo Park, New York. Potter’s flashy fancy suit was dubbed a “tuxedo.”
This is how fashion legends are born.
Types of Tuxedo Pants
The tuxedo and changed and evolved since those early royal days. Many different types of tuxedo pants and other components have emerged. What’s the difference and why does it matter?
Tuxedo pants are made without belts loops in all styles, as belts are considered to be too casual to wear with a tuxedo. Traditionally, suspenders were used to hold tuxedo pants in place. Tuxedos are supposed to have a custom, well-tailored look and belt loops don’t look very tailored.
However, in modern style there is another option: adjustable waist. This type of tuxedo pant is made with a waistband that can be adjusted to achieve a perfect fit. This eliminates the need for a belt or suspenders. This is a newer tuxedo pant style and one that has started to catch on.
Classic tuxedo pants fit at the natural waist, right around the belly button area. They are somewhat roomy through the hips to provide room for sitting and taper through the legs, becoming more snug as they get to the ankle. Tuxedo pants are long enough to cover the tops of your shoes. This is the classic fit and look of standard tuxedo pants.
Some tuxedo pants might be made with pleats, rather than a flat front. Pleats are not necessarily more or less formal than non-pleated styles. Choosing pleated versus non-pleated tuxedo pant styles is a matter of taste. Pleats add a little extra room in the pants because they expand when you sit down. They also have a way of hiding bulk in the body and in the pockets. Pleats help camouflage a larger stomach.
There are different types of pleats. Forward pleats face the fly, with the edges sticking inward toward the middle of the body. Reverse pleats face outward, with the edges pointing out toward the pockets. Pleats can have a single, double or triple design.
Traditionally, tuxedo pants are made with a single satin stripe that runs the length of each leg, on either side. The stripe is made with satin in the same material and color as the lapel on the tuxedo jacket. Tuxedo pants made with the satin stripe on the legs also have a satin waistband.
This stripe has a way of visually elongating the leg, making you appear taller. The stripe is a traditional element of tuxedo pants but it is not always present on all types of pants. In tuxedo lingo, this stripe is called a braid.
What Makes a Tuxedo?
The pants are only half of the design when it comes to the tuxedo. To complete the outfit and to truly wear a tuxedo, you’re going to need some extras. The choices to make determine the overall look of the tuxedo and may even dictate the type of tuxedo pants you wear.
Little details can make a tuxedo and provide some room for style creativity. What you add to the tuxedo adds to your overall look.
Cummerbunds are a thick band of fabric that goes around the waist, covering the top of the tuxedo pants. This is a bit of an old-fashioned accessory that has been around long enough to be a classic. You still see this look sometimes, though it’s not considered to be the most modern tuxedo style.
Ties are a big element for any tuxedo, whether you choose a bow tie or a necktie. The tie worn with a tuxedo is often satin, which matches the lapels and little details on tuxedos.
Black has become the traditional, go-to color for the tuxedo and it’s still a classic. However, modern tuxedo styles might be made in shades of blue, white, gray and burgundy. Colors can be mixed up. For example, a white tuxedo jacket and black pants is a classic look that can really stand out. This is a popular look at weddings, where white is a predominant color.
Tuxedo jackets are made with different styles of lapels. Different lapels can create distinctly different looks.
Frame lapels add a little detail to the lapel: a satin edge. This is a narrow piece of satin trim that just edges the lapel. This edge may contrast again, complement or match the tuxedo jacket.
Notch lapels look like they are made in multiple pieces, with a neck piece and two chest pieces that follow down the jacket in a tapering design. At the transition from the neck to the collar bone, there’s a little notch in the lapels that looks like a triangle-shaped wedge of fabric is missing. This is the notch.
Peak lapels look like notch lapels but the top edge of the lap flares out in a wide point before it tapers down to a slim edge as it moves down the tuxedo jacket.
Shawl lapels are wide, uniform lapels with curving, rounded edges. Shawl lapels go down the tuxedo jacket in a clean, sleek sweep.
Wearing Different Types of Tuxedo Pants
Which types of tuxedo pants are going to look best on you? If you’re taller, you might want to choose tuxedo pants without a stripe. The stripe has a way of elongating the body visually, so this is a good choice for men who are shorter in frame or who have shorter legs.
If you have a slim build, choose pants that don’t have pleats or look for pleats that sit flat on the pants. Men who are a little bulkier might want pleats, which will have a more slimming effect on them.
Otherwise, choose the types of tuxedo pants that you enjoy wearing best. The tuxedo is meant to be a somewhat uniform fashion item but you can play with different elements and different choices to make this look uniquely your own.
The tuxedo isn’t as simple as it first appears. There’s a lot that goes into this fashion icon, including the different types of pants that complete the tuxedo look and hold it all together. We’ve got the answers to the most commonly asked questions about tuxedo pants, so we can eliminate the confusion and give you the answers you need to know so you can style your tuxedo just like an expert.
How should tuxedo pants fit?
Tuxedo pants are meant to fit around the waist somewhat snugly, following the body but not pinching it or fitting tightly. They follow the hips, providing a little moving room here, and taper down the legs to end at around mid-ankle.
The pants fit through the crotch, providing just enough room without pulling up or feeling tight but also without hanging down or being too roomy. Tuxedo pants are not meant to be baggy anywhere but they’re also not supposed to be tight or restrictive.
Can tuxedo pants be altered?
Tuxedo pants are tailored to fit your body precisely. The length, the waistband, the crotch are all fitted to your body. The fit is everything in a tuxedo, so tuxedo pants are made to be tailored and altered as needed.
If your body goes through big changes, however, you may need a whole new pair of tuxedo pants. Alterations are for somewhat small changes, just little changes here and there, not for big changes.
Should tuxedo pants have pleats?
Tuxedo pants may or may not have pleats and you can choose the look you like. Wear pleats if you want and don’t wear them if you don’t. Pleats are a perfectly acceptable look in tuxedo pants and just as formal and stylish as pants that don’t have pleats. Sometimes, tuxedo fashion ebbs and flows and pleats may be more in style at one time than another.
Do tuxedo pants always have a stripe?
Tuxedo pants have a satin stripe down the outside of each leg in classic designs but modern styles may not have a stripe at all. The stripe is there as a style preference. Wear a tuxedo pant style with a stripe or without based on the look you want. When you wear a tuxedo pant style with a stripe, the stripe will match the material on the lapel.
What are tuxedo pants made from?
Tuxedo pants are made from a variety of materials, though polyester, rayon and wool are the most common. Polyester and rayon are both synthetic materials that can be styled to resemble another material, such as wool. This is the traditional material used for tuxedo pants because wool is lightweight but durable and it’s available in high-quality varieties that are suitable for formal wear.
Wool is a natural material that is breathable and beautiful when it’s knitted and woven into tuxedo pants.
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