The Making of the Perfect Tuxedo
Fashion Most Wanted
“In a tuxedo, I’m a star. In regular clothes, I’m a nobody”, quoted Dean Martin, hugely popular for his 1953 signature hit ‘That’s Amore’.
There’s an underlying benevolence of the tux that makes it a piece of clothing that defines the occasion, not the other way around. Surprisingly, what is today deemed the most formal evening wear for a man, didn’t quite have its start like that.
October 10, 1886: A young fashion rebel by the name Griswold Lorillard created a stir by wearing a tail-less jacket to a white-tie-and-tails ball at an exclusive country club event.
The location was Tuxedo Park, New York.
The conservative host of the party was appalled at this blatant disrespect towards tradition and kicked Lorillard and his friends out of the party.
However, Lorillard’s jacket kickstarted a new trend.
The tail-less adaptation of the jacket grew in popularity because society was tired of the fastidious tail coat. Little did anyone at that party know, that their act of dismissal had paved the way for the birth of a new fashion norm.
Most men even to date however, confuse between a suit and a tuxedo. At most times picking the inappropriate attire for the occasion. For beginners, a suit constitutes a jacket and trousers made from the same material, can be worn at any time of the day and can be easily pulled off as casual wear minus the tie. The tuxedo on the other hand is worn to only black-tie events, it is usually custom made with intricate detailing.
You can’t just pick a tux off the rack. Tuxedos are meant to be custom made to fit the one wearing it to size. It reflects in many ways the wearers personality and is built to match his demeanour. When it comes to a tux there’s a checklist one must follow in order to have the perfect bespoke tuxedo.
- Figure your size: It’s always recommended to opt for a detailed measuring guide to ensure you get the right fit. If you wear a suit, chances are the size for your jacket would be the same. However, it’s best not to leave this to chance. A number of online measuring guides including this really accurate one here will help
- Pick the right fabric: Tuxedos may be made from a great variety of fabrics today. These include wool, polyester, and rayon. Fancy detailing is generally an imitation silk satin such as polyester or rayon. Linings may be acetate or polyester. Stiffeners are an important part of the tuxedo as they help the shoulders, collar and lapel retain their shape. While the tuxedo has to fit, it also has to be made of the highest quality fabric
- The design: Modern day tux designers stick to the latest trends, gauging requirements and matching the cut, fit and style to resonate with the persona of the wearer. While picking a designer, ensure you collaborate with one that has an eye for detail. Not doing so may put your tux in a league of duds. A designer’s job does not just end with picking the right fabric and style. A tux is all about the minor details including:
- Pockets: Tuxedo jackets feature jetted pockets – making the whole appearance of the jacket more formal.
- Pocket square: With a tuxedo, always stick to plain white
- Jacket lapel: Tuxedos are made with either a shawl or peaked lapel. The material of the lapel is either satin or a rougher weave grosgrain silk.
- Trousers: Tuxedo trousers feature a braid down the side of the leg that matches the jacket lapels
- Shirt: Tuxedos are worn with solid white button-up shirts with studs.
- Neckwear: Tuxedos are to be worn with bow ties and cummerbunds or waistcoats.
- The styling: Tuxedos leave very minimal scope for styling. All focus therefore rests on the shoes you pick. A tux requires patent leather shoes. We place our bet on black balmoral oxfords, unadorned and polished to a high sheen
A bespoke tux is as much about the research as it is about the make.
It’s what you bring to life at the end of the day that caves the path for you. A dime and dozen walk around strutting their finest suit. Only a few among those become the distinguished ones, complete in their perfectly tailor made tuxedos. If you’re wearing a tuxedo you are likely to be rubbing shoulders with others in their dapper best who can probably tell the difference between an average tux and a well-crafted one. In situations like these, the quintessential bespoke man always outshines the off the rack one. The tux after all is not about just playing dress up, it is about commemorating the occasion and suggesting ‘this is special’.
Jeremy Cabral is one of India's foremost fashion bloggers, who is known for his portal Fashion Most Wanted. He is a specialist in men's fashion and grooming, having associated with the most coveted designer labels.