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Tuxedo Costumes

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If you have an opera ticket or an invitation to a formal event, and don't have any formal clothes, we're here to help! Up until the mid-20th century, there were strict definitions of "formal wear." There was "white tie" (the most formal), "black tie" (semi-formal), and "business attire." Casual clothes weren't worn in public.  

White tie meant:   

  • a black cutaway tailcoat, short in front with long tails at the back 

  • a stiff white shirt with detachable wing collar  

  • a white bow tie  

  • trousers of the same fabric as the tailcoat, with one wide or two narrow strips of braid or grosgrain ribbon down each side seam  

  • black silk socks or stockings  

  • well-polished black "court pumps" or Oxfords  

  • a top hat (optional)   

  • military decorations for men who have earned them 

White tie was de rigueur for ceremonial occasions such as state dinners, formal balls and evening weddings. Today many symphony orchestra conductors wear white tie for performances. Male orchestra members may wear white tie or black tie. 

Black tie meant the type of suit that is now called a tuxedo:   

  • a black or midnight blue dinner jacket cut like the jacket of a business suit, but distinguished from it by having satin or silk lapels 

  • trousers of the same fabric as the dinner jacket, with one strip of silk or satin braid down each side seam  

  • a white dress shirt with pleated front  

  • a black cummerbund or low-cut waistcoat  

  • a black silk bow tie of the same fabric as the jacket lapels  

  • black stockings  

  • black shoes, usually patent leather 

According to tradition, black tie should only be worn to evening events--after 6 pm in summer or after sundown in winter. Today, though, it is often worn at daytime weddings as well as at formal evening events such as proms and opera performances. 

Since the freewheeling days of the '60s and '70s, notions oof proper dress changed. Traditions were scorned and rules for proper attire were discarded. The pastel tuxedo became the "in" thing, if it was worn at all. Instead of a full suit, separates became the norm. Most dress codes became "anything goes." But true classics never die.   

Our tuxes still come in basic black, but also in a variety of other colors and even in camouflage print. You can buy the whole suit, or buy each piece alone if you want to mix and match colors or if you need a jacket in a different size than the pants. For proms, you can match the color of your date's dress. You can even get a powder blue or orange tux to become Harry or Lloyd from the movie Dumb and Dumber! We have tuxes in boys' and toddlers' sizes, too, and a range of accessories including top hats, canes, shoes and socks. Formal can be fun!