Tuxedo vs suit isn’t a decision most men have to make on a daily basis. If you own a tuxedo, you probably only wear it to more formal occasions. However, knowing the difference between a tuxedo vs suit can help you look and feel better, as well as dress appropriately for those not-quite-clear occasions.

There are some things that set tuxedos and suits apart from one another. Use this guide to help you learn more about the battle between tuxedo vs suit.

Formal Wear

The biggest difference when it comes to tuxedo vs suit is the fact that the tuxedo is reserved for more formal occasions. While you might be able to wear one to the bar with your friends, you’re likely to seem out of place, even if other men are dressed in fine suits.

Simply put, tuxedos require some sort of special occasion if you’re going to wear them. That might be a black tie gala, a wedding or a charity event.

Suits on the other hand can be worn almost any time that you feel one is appropriate. You can wear one to work, on a date or even a night out in an upscale bar with your friends. That’s not the case for a tuxedo.

Colors

Suits come in a wide range of colors. While the classics might be black, navy and charcoal, you can get bright blue, red, green, brown and yellow if that’s what you’re looking for. That’s not the case with tuxedos.

When you go shopping for a tuxedo, finding anything other than black, midnight blue, and the occasional white tux, is going to be nearly impossible. If you’re the type of guy who has a reason to wear a tuxedo three times per week, you could get a custom color if you paid a skilled tailor.

Still, the difference in color options really relates to how formal tuxedos are. When you have occasion to wear one, sticking to basic black or midnight blue is going to be the best option almost every time.

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Devil in the Details

If you’re comparing a tuxedo vs suit with your naked eye, chances are they look pretty similar. When you really dig into the details though, you’ll see that the two options have some pretty distinct contrasts when it comes to details.

Jacket Lapels

Satin is a commonly used material for a tuxedo lapel, and in almost all cases, that’s what you’ll see on a store bought or custom tux. On a suit jacket, the material is generally the same as the suit, though other options do exist.

Lapel styles are also quite different in terms of tuxedo vs suit. Notch lapels are common in a suit, but on a tuxedo, they’re far too informal. Instead, you’ll see a peak lapel or a shawl collar on a tuxedo to give a more formal appearance.

Pockets

Pockets on a tuxedo vs suit are actually quite similar. Like jacket lapels, the biggest difference is that most tuxedo pockets will be trimmed with black satin instead of being made from the same material as the rest of the garment.

Unique pockets that you sometimes see on more casual suits will also not appear on any tuxedo. Again, there are custom tuxedos out there, but the vast majority of tuxedos follow a standard pocket configuration for a reason.

Buttons

Like your jacket lapels and pockets, buttons are different when comparing tuxedo vs suit details. On a standard suit, you’ll likely find plastic buttons. If you have a nicer suit, you might find metal, bone or horn buttons.

On a tuxedo, buttons are generally covered in – you guessed it – black satin. Black satin buttons match standard trim and lapels on a tuxedo, working to give your whole look a more formal, tied-together appearance.

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Pants

From the outside, tuxedo pants and suit pants look pretty much the same. While most men, even those who prefer a slim fit suit go for a more classic cut in a tuxedo, fit isn’t necessarily the key to deciphering the difference.

Suit pants generally have belt loops and tuxedo pants do not. That’s because most tuxedo pants feature suspender buttons so you can wear the black braces that match your tuxedo pants for that ultra-formal look.

Tuxedo pants also have a satin stripe going down the side of the leg to match those lapels, pockets and buttons.

Shirts

Almost every man knows what a dress shirt looks like. Most guys can picture a tuxedo shirt as well, and in this case, the differences between tuxedo vs suit are quite obvious.

A standard dress shirt that you wear with a tie typically has a point or spread collar. For the most part, these shirts also feature button cuffs, though French cuff shirts are still popular among many men.

Tuxedo shirts prominently feature pleats running down the front of the shirt. The spread collar or wing collar is the most popular choice.

Tuxedo shirts can be fasted with buttons or studs, and though your standard barrel cuff is extremely popular today, French cuffs are the only option for a tuxedo shirt. Better find yourself some nice cuff links if you’re getting ready to buy your first tuxedo.

Ties

Hollywood A-listers often wear tuxedos to awards shows and galas without ties, but that’s not something you can do. If you’re going to wear a tuxedo, you need to be wearing a black bow tie for almost every occasion. Colored options are available, but they generally are not appropriate for occasions that call for a tuxedo.

When you wear a suit, you get the option to dress up or dress down your look based on whether you wear a tie or not, as well as what kind of tie you decide to wear. Wild colors, bold prints and fun patterns are commonly accepted when it comes to standard ties worn with traditional suits.

Shoes

Almost anything goes when it comes to picking out your shoes for a suit. If you’re going to work on Wall Street, you might want some classic brogues or Oxfords. For another guy though, a pair of Beatle boots could be just what his style calls for.

When you wear a tuxedo, you’re pretty much committing to black patent leather shoes. Lace-up varieties are usually the go to choice if you’re wearing a tuxedo to a formal event.

Accessories

When it comes to accessories, you can get away with almost anything in a traditional suit. Want to wear a watch, lapel flower and a crazy tie? You can do it if you can pull it off with a straight face.

When you put a tuxedo on though, you need to keep your accessories to a minimum. A classic lapel flower can work, but everything else should be left at home. If you have a watch that’s formal – meaning more high end – that’s fine too.

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Ralph Lauretta

About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for Men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.