The Gentlelady’s Guide to Wearing a Tuxedo

Women in tuxedos. Is there anything sexier? Whether it’s watching Blake Lively strut across the screen tucking red gloves into her pocket or Emma Watson saunter down a red carpet, there is no denial – tuxes are hot. But as Boromir said, "one does not simply wear a tuxedo". Ok, he didn’t say that exactly, but it’s true. There is an art to perfecting the look and that can vary based on what you’re wanting. However, there are a few hard and fast rules to follow when you’re planning on putting the "black tie" in your next black tie affair.

1. Tie the knot.

Nothing sets you apart faster than a genuine bow tie. A properly tied bow tie will not be perfectly even, but will instead be a little uneven demonstrating its authenticity to viewers. In fact, Winston Churchill was famous for tilting his bow tie to one-side just to prove he had tied it himself. With bow ties, just as with humans, the value lies in the imperfection. Learning to tie a bow tie will take you maybe 20 mins and a youtube tutorial. It’s worth the nod of approval you’ll get from seasoned tuxedo wearers and the look of bewilderment you’ll get when you literally show the boys how it’s done. Here’s a quick video to help with the education.

2. Ace the square.

A pocket square is an optional asset to the tuxedo for some, but to me it’s another free cherry on the sundae of perfection. There are many different ways to fold a pocket square but the easiest way is the single-point. This means the square is folded into a triangle. Don’t just shove it into the pocket and call it a day. Your pocket square should also either match either your bow tie or your socks.  Again, a short video can make this an easy tilt of the hat to the seasoned renaissance woman. Knock yourself out with this video here.

3. Rock the Socks.

The happier the sock, the happier the foot, right? This is your chance to have the most fun and make your tuxedo unique to you. Of course, you want to keep an element of class and remember the occasion and season you are dressing for. I personally elect a pair of red plaid socks by Happy Socks in the winter and a lighter argyle by the same brand for warmer seasons. There are a lot of fun socks out there but maybe leave the flamingos and hedgehogs at home if it’s truly a formal affair.

4. Choose the shoes for YOU.

When I first told my friend I would be wearing a tuxedo to a formal event her first question was, “You’re wearing heels right?” I took a moment before responding. “If I wear heels it will be for everyone else. If I wear dress shoes, it will be for me.” You can already guess which one I picked. (These here). Regardless of whether you are going for a more “femme fatale” vibe or the classic “dapper Dan”, your shoes should compliment your tuxedo’s cut and style and most importantly, your personal brand. Also, as a rule of thumb your shoes should never be lighter than your suit. This means leave the bright pink shoes at home this time, and opt for a classic black.

5. Cum(merbund) for me, baby.

Ok, it’s not as dirty as I made it sound. The cummerbund is that big flat belt looking thing that wraps around your waist and covers your pant line. This is also optional. I personally don’t care for the look on me, but for more tall and slender women (see, e.g. Blake Lively) it can really complete the ensemble. Make sure if you do go this route you do it properly. Your cummerbund should match your bow tie. This isn't the high school prom, so again, no bright colors unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to be chosen for a wedding party. In which case – God speed.

6. Suspenders or belt – never both.

As a little history lesson, suspenders were originally invented to hold up men’s pants. Likewise, the belt was invented to hold up men’s pants. You see where I am going with this. Combining the two is perhaps one of the biggest fashion faux pas you can make and sadly it is all too common with men trying to be Jay Gatsby who ending up looking like Huckleberry Finn. Just use your common sense here, ladies. Suspenders should also not be combined with a cummerbund and neither should a belt. The three are mutually exclusive fashion events, so choose one and commit.

7. Strut your stuff.

You’ve put in the work, watched the tutorials and tilted the bow tie. Now the most important part – own your look. Confidence is more attractive than diamonds on a woman, and far more valuable. Whatever event you’ve decided to wear your tuxedo to, wear it with confidence and you can never go wrong. You may be the only woman in the room wearing the tux, but let’s be honest, would you really want it any other way?_________________________________________________________________________

Looking for the perfect Tux? This blog wouldn't be complete without a shameless plug to the company who made mine - Little Black Tux. They specialize in women's tuxedos and offer really great selections and excellent customer service. They even threw in a free pocket square for me!

Leave a comment