The Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit

Fashion is an ever-evolving medium, growing and changing as time marches forward. For years, suits and tuxedos were worn only by men, but now, thankfully, these commanding pieces are enjoyed by all, serving as strong statements of power and influence by their wearers. Business meetings, fancy parties, special occasions, or even for daily wear, the declarations of the suit and the tuxedo are timeless. Regardless of the person showcasing the garment, the question continues to be asked: what’s the difference between a suit and a tuxedo? While the simple answer is that the tuxedo holds the presence of satin, but there are exceptions to this rule, and there are a few other elements in play when defining the differences between a tuxedo and a suit.

The Mentality of the Tuxedo Vs. the Suit

While there are physical differences between a tuxedo and a suit, there is a mentality that goes along with the wearing of a tuxedo. A suit hangs in your closet, alongside other suits of similar colors and fabrics, paired methodically with accompanying shirts and accessories. The feeling of a suit is one of everyday style, and that’s not to downplay its role in fashion but instead to define its place in dress. A tuxedo, however, is a special item, one that perhaps hangs in its own garment bag, accessorized uniquely, made of more exquisite fabrics and destined for greater occasions than simple everyday office meetings. Tuxedos are for special occasions, even if the special occasion is simply wearing the tuxedo. There is a mentality that goes along with slipping into a tuxedo that is simply not there with the wearing of a suit. Tuxedos are designed to feel luxurious, tailored more to the wearer’s body, created to give the wearer power, importance, and to truly stand out from the crowd. The difference between a tuxedo and a suit can all come down to a feeling, the feeling that one has when walking into a room wearing a beautiful, tailored tuxedo. 

The Physical Differences Between a Tuxedo and a Suit

The difference between a tuxedo and a suit in design can come down to the simple element of satin fabric. Traditional tuxedos incorporate satin into the design, including placement on the lapels, trim of pockets, buttons, satin piping inside the jacket, satin lining inside the jacket, and satin striping down pant legs. Suits typically do not have satin. The modernized tuxedo has lessened the presence of satin, sometimes only including it in a thin trim on the lapels or thin satin striping on the pant leg. Truly, some modern tuxedos can even exist without the presence of satin at all. Another physical difference between a tuxedo and a suit can be seen in the incorporated accessories. Suits have ties, and tuxedos have bowties, scares, or cravats. The presence of vests suspenders, and cummerbunds can add a whole other element to the mix. There are exceptions to every rule, and one of the most delicious qualities about fashion is that the main rule is that there are no rules. Today, suits can be worn with bowties, tuxedos can be worn with ties, either can be worn without any accessories at all. Tuxedos are often created from more luxurious fabrics and tailored more to the wearer’s body. They are more one-of-a-kind because, many times, they are indeed that.

So where is the line drawn when defining the difference between a tuxedo and a suit? What does the wearer do when RSVP’ing to an invitation that says the words, “Black Tie?” It comes down to this: what piece best defines you? When standing in your closet, which garment feels most exquisite, feels most luxurious, feels most like you? The modern tuxedo is not only defined by the wearer, but it is defined by the time. Suits and tuxedos are not just for men anymore, and tuxedos are not just for black-tie-only occasions. The most important response to the question “What’s the difference between a suit and a tuxedo?” is complete with three words: luxury, uniqueness, perception. At the end of the day, it’s about the feeling you feel when you slip into the garment, the power it gives you, and the ability it holds to make you feel truly, uniquely, beautifully you.

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