Many don’t understand the difference between a tuxedo and a suit, and with the style of tuxes changing, it’s becoming even harder to tell them apart. When most people think of tuxedos, they think of Daniel Craig as James Bond in his black dinner jacket and bowtie, but many modern tuxes go beyond the classic black-and-white look to incorporate newer styles in grey, tan, or navy.
Whether you’re getting married or you’ve been invited to a formal event, it’s important to know the difference between a tux and a suit, and when it’s appropriate to wear each ensemble.
Deciding whether to wear a suit or a tuxedo on the wedding day is a big decision for most grooms. That’s why many men look to their future wife to steer them in the right direction. But what if you don’t have a preference one way or the other? How do you decide which type of attire your groom should wear on the big day? The decision mostly comes down to the overall formality of the wedding, as the groom’s attire sets a standard for a white-tie, black-tie, formal, or semi-formal affair. Not sure what suits your wedding best? Here’s how to decide whether a suit or a tux is right for your groom and your wedding.
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What is the difference between a tuxedo and a suit?
First of all, you must know what the key differences are between a tuxedo and a suit. The biggest difference is that a tuxedo has the presence of satin on it, while a suit does not. You will see satin on the lapels, buttons, and pocket lining of the tuxedo jacket, as well as a strip of satin down each pant leg. In contrast, suits have plastic or cloth-covered buttons and no satin parts. Tuxedos may also have additional components like a cummerbund or vest, while a suit may or may not be accompanied
A relatively new type of formalwear that seemingly bridges the gap between traditional tuxedos and suits. It’s a hybrid of them both! Conversationally referred to as a “suit/tux,” this newer option might be the compromise brides, and grooms are looking for when planning the formalwear for their Tennessee weddings. This formalwear option has a thin piece of satin on the lapels, but it has cloth buttons.
Is it inappropriate for the groom to wear a suit to the wedding?
Not, according to today’s fashion trends! But there is a great deal of difference about the symbolism between a tuxedo and a suit. Whereas a suit is traditionally worn to the office, at job interviews, and casual weddings as a guest, a tuxedo stands alone as something only worn on very important occasions. Think of it this way: the bride will likely be wearing the most expensive, most amazing dress she’s ever worn on the wedding day. It’s up to the bride and groom to decide whether the groom should dress “up” to match her efforts with a tuxedo or “down” to make the wedding more casual with a suit.
Your decision between a tuxedo and a suit should encompass other details about your wedding as well, including the time of day you’re getting married and your venue. While wearing a suit to the wedding can make the groom harder to single out in the crowds (unless the girl in the big white dress is by his side), there are times when wearing a suit is simply more appropriate. Chat with your local formalwear professional for his or her opinion on the matter.
What is the price difference between a tuxedo and a suit?
Not surprisingly, this varies depending on whom you’re asking, although you’re very likely to find competitive rates between local providers. At retail, of course, a tuxedo is more expensive than a suit. When considering rental costs, however, which is a more popular option at this time, you’ll likely find that tuxedo rentals start at a lower price point than suits.
What’s the best way to find out? Give your local provider a call and check. “In the end, though,” Keep the big picture in mind. Think about the bride’s dress and even her flowers, and make sure you don’t crash! Everything should fit together like a puzzle piece when it comes to wedding attire, so don’t focus too hard on the little details without taking a step back to see the big picture!
Tuxedo vs. Suit Price
A high-quality three-piece suit can be purchased for $300 to $800. If you look for sales, you may be able to find a great suit for even less. Keep in mind that you’ll still need a shirt, tie, and shoes, and you may need to pay between $30–$100 for alterations.
- Multiple wears. The benefit of buying a suit vs. a tux is that you’re more likely to wear it again. Many occasions call for suits, from work functions to weddings, and every man needs at least one great suit in his closet. It’s even more likely that you’ll wear the shirt, shoes, and tie again, even if the vest and jacket collect dust.
- Buying. Tuxedos cost about $700 to $1,000 for the jacket and pants. You may be able to find a sale on a tuxedo, but generally, you will be paying more than you would for a suit. You’ll also need a shirt, vest or cummerbund, a tie, and shoes. You may also need to pay for alterations.
- Renting. If cost is a concern to you, you can rent a high-quality wool tuxedo for $150 to $250. Many tux packages contain everything you need, including the vest, shirt, shoes, and cufflinks. If you think that you’ll wear your tuxedo at least two more times, it may be worth it to buy instead of rent.
Unique tuxedos. Not every tuxedo has to be the classic black jacket and pants with a crisp white shirt beneath. These days, more grooms are showcasing their personalities and preferences by wearing tuxedos in a variety of colours, including shades of grey and blue. Even tan tuxedos have made an appearance at weddings. One of the more unique twists on the tuxedo look is the “Tropical Black Tie.” You’ve probably seen it before in the movies or on the red carpet. A tropical black tie features a white dinner jacket over a white shirt with black pants and a black tie. The jacket typically includes one-button front and self flap pockets. Suits will typically give you a lot more colour and style options, so if you want to create a bold look that is all you, a suit might offer you more fashion freedom.
How to Wear a Suit or a Tuxedo
In addition to the physical differences between a tuxedo and a suit, they are typically styled differently — especially for a wedding or traditional black-tie affair.
Shirts: Tuxedos are typically styled with a white tuxedo shirt. But when we say a tuxedo shirt, there is not just one variety. There are tuxedo shirts with pleated, plain, or pique cotton bib fronts. Each of these styles is considered to be traditional and equally appropriate for black-tie. In addition to the different options for the front of the shirt, there are different collar options to consider when selecting a tuxedo shirt. The most traditional option is our Classic Tuxedo Shirt, a wingtip collar shirt with black stud buttons. The more modern option is a point collar tuxedo shirt. This selection can be made solely on your preference.
Accessories: The white tuxedo shirt is typically accessorized with a stud set and cufflinks. Most tuxedo shirts have a strip of removable buttons that can easily be replaced with a stud set and French cuffs to receive cufflinks. There are many options for stud sets and cufflinks in a variety of metals and materials including silver, gold, rose gold, pearl and mother of pearl. Select a stud set and cufflinks that are complementary to the other elements of your wedding or your attire. If your accent metal for the wedding is silver and/or your bride will be wearing silver jewellery, then consider purchasing a silver stud set and cufflinks to be consistent with these details. On occasion, your tuxedo shirt will come with a hidden placket in which case a stud set will not be necessary, just cufflinks. Click here for more tips on sporting cufflinks with your tuxedo.
Neckwear: With a tuxedo, it is proper etiquette to wear a bow tie, not a necktie. And in the past, black-tie events called for wearing actual black bowties, but this rule has relaxed a bit over the years. You will now find that it is acceptable for men to wear bow ties in a variety of different colours, patterns and fabrics. For a standard suit, a necktie or bow tie is acceptable but for black tie, stick to a bow tie. We always recommend a hand-tied bow tie.
Shoes: The foundation of any look is the footwear and wearing a tuxedo is no different. Tuxedos are typically worn with patent leather lace-up shoes. Our Brooks or Gala tuxedo shoes are great options. In recent years, patent leather and velvet smoking slippers have also become popular to wear with tuxedo looks. If patent leather lace-ups or smoking slippers are not your things, consider wearing a black leather whole cut shoe. It is not quite a formal as patent leather oxford shoes, but they will provide a look formal enough to be worn to a black-tie wedding.
Tuxedos should be worn for any wedding or event indicated as black-tie. If the invitation states “black-tie” then you must wear a tuxedo. It is not proper etiquette to wear a suit to a black-tie alternatively, if the event is indicated as “black-tie optional”, then you may wear a dark suit in navy, midnight or black. If you are planning a wedding and are unsure of whether to designate your wedding as black-tie, consider the level of formality of the event that you are planning. Do your wedding venue, style, and theme dictate that the event should be black-tie and your guests in tuxedos? If the answer is “yes”, then black-tie, it is. If you are not set on requiring each of your guests to wear tuxedos, and maybe you want something a little less formal, then indicate “formal” on the invitations and allow your guests to wear suits. Either way, you choose, make sure it is clearly stated on the invitation, so your guests have been given clear instructions on the attire for the event!
The Big Differences
All suits and tuxedos are not created equal. In terms of the big differences, satin is usually seen on the detailing of a tuxedo, usually lining the lapel, decorating the buttons, or in the form of a side-stripe down the pant leg. Suits are typically made entirely of one fabric, which makes them slightly less formal. The accessories often vary with tuxedos and may include a cummerbund, waistcoat, and bow tie. That said, these accessories aren’t required for a tux.
To learn more, check out our post on How to choose a suit for the groom?
Pay Attention to the Time of Day
Tuxedos are meant for evening events only, so your groom wouldn’t wear one for a morning or afternoon wedding. If you’re planning to marry during the day, a suit would be a better option for your groom’s attire.
The Formality of the Wedding Is Key to Your Decision
If you’re planning to have a black-tie wedding, a tuxedo is a must for your groom. It’s the most polished option, and you’ll want your groom to set the tone that this is a very formal event. If you set black-tie as your wedding dress code, you’ll likely have several guests arrive wearing tuxedos, and the last thing you want is for anyone to look more formal than your groom.
When it comes down to making the final call, personal preference will likely play a big part in your groom’s decision. If your guy cares about great style and he’s excited to don a tuxedo instead of a suit, let him run with it. If he’s a guy who enjoys his accessories, a suit may be a better fit. If he has zero preference and is happy to wear whatever you choose, use the timing and formality of your wedding to guide your decision.
Tuxedo or Suit for a Wedding?
The primary physical difference between a tuxedo and a suit is the presence of satin. Typically tuxedos have satin facing on the lapels, buttons, pocket trim, and a satin side stripe down the leg of the trousers. Suits don’t incorporate any satin and usually have either plastic buttons or buttons faced with the same fabric as the coat (aka self buttons.)
As for the accessories, tuxedos are traditionally worn with bow ties and a vest or cummerbund, while suits are traditionally worn with a long tie, alone or with a matching vest. That’s not to say that you can’t wear a bow tie with a suit or a long tie with a tuxedo. You can. It’s just that the other way around is more common and traditional. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.
Now, regarding whether you should wear a suit or a tuxedo for your wedding, that has less to do with the physical differences and more to do with the different messages that a tuxedo and a suit send. Here are our thoughts:
This day belongs to you and your wife-to-be, and the two of you can dress for it however you want. But the truth is, you can wear a nice suit to a wedding and feel very dapper and dressed up, but so can everyone else in attendance. Besides, you can wear that same suit to work and feel very well put together any other day of the year. For your wedding, you’ll want to wear something that sets yourself and this day apart from the rest. That’s where a tuxedo comes in.
The point of dressing up for your wedding isn’t simply to look your best. That’s a big part of it, but it’s also to commemorate your marriage in an ensemble that’s designed for that very purpose. Your wedding day is a special day, and it deserves a special dress code.
A suit says that you’re a very well put together, competent, dashing, and productive member of society. That’s why they’re great for the workplace and less formal social functions. But a tuxedo says more than that. A tuxedo says “I have come to share this moment with you. I would look out of place anywhere but here. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Not to mention that, when done correctly, you’ll never look better than you do in a well made, nicely fit tuxedo.
Partner’s preference. Don’t have a preference for wearing a suit or tux for your wedding? Ask your partner for their opinion. They may know exactly what they want you to wear. (Don’t be surprised if you get colour and accessory recommendations as well.) In the case of two grooms, it always looks great when the grooms wear a matching style, (either two tuxes or two suits), though individual styles and colours can vary to express your different personalities.
If you’ve decided to wear a tuxedo, you can choose to have your groomsmen also wear tuxedos for continuity. You may also decide that you want to stand out from the pack, and therefore have your groomsmen wear suits. You can also choose to make your look unique with different accessories than your groomsmen.
When it comes to deciding between a suit vs. a tux as a wedding guest, take a look at the invitation. If the invitation says “White Tie,” “Black Tie Invited,” or “Black Tie Preferred,” you should wear a tuxedo. If the invitation says “Black Tie Optional” or “Formal,” you may choose to wear a tuxedo or a dark suit. For all other weddings, your best bet is to wear a suit.