Tuxedo shirt styles are like forearm tattoos: painstakingly detailed, and usually covered by a jacket. Unlike tattoos, (most) tux shirt styles do not require laser removal if they don’t turn out the way you expect. Still, you’ll save time and money by getting your tux shirt—and your ink—right the first time. We can help with the shirt.
When it comes to weighing your tuxedo shirt options, you need to have your endgame in mind. While there are many types of tuxedo shirts, it really comes down to how formal or casual, traditional or modern you want your look to be. Dig into our guide, learn what to look for in a men’s tuxedo shirt, and find the perfect shirt for tuxedo style mastery.
tl;dr (The Cheat Sheet)
Real talk: Between dropping the perfect GIF on that office email chain and checking your credit report hourly to make sure “you” didn’t take out a second mortgage, it’s hard to find time to learn the difference between piqué and pleated bib shirts. The good news is, a lot of choosing a tux shirt is about personal preference. Knowing the finer points just helps to better align what you want with what you’re wearing.
But we’re here for that busy guy, too. So use this bite-sized tuxedo shirt cheat sheet to find the right shirt—or read on to become an expert.
Pleat: A fold in a garment’s fabric, held by stitching the top or side.
Bib: A rectangular panel that runs up the front of a tuxedo shirt, doubling the fabric.
Placket: The center strip of fabric where a shirt’s buttonholes are situated
Studs: An ornamental alternative for buttons on some tuxedo shirts, worn in sets of four or five.
Rule 1: If your shirt has a bib, always wear a bow tie.
Rule 2: If your shirt has a wing tip collar, always wear a bow tie.
Rule 3: If your shirt has a spread collar, you can wear either a bow tie or a necktie—unless it has a bib. If it has a bib, see Rule 1.
Q: Should I wear cufflinks?
Q: Does my shirt need to have french cuffs for cufflinks?
A: Usually—though all of our shirts work with cufflinks regardless of cuff style. All french cuffs do require cufflinks or silk knots, like the ones that come included with this shirt.
Q: Should I wear button studs?
A: Only if you’re wearing a bow tie, but they’re not required. Make sure they work with your tuxedo shirt’s placket.
Q: Does my shirt need to have a pleated bib shirt or wing tip collar to wear with my tux?
A: No, but pleated bibs and wing tips make for a polished, classic look.
Q: How should a tuxedo shirt fit?
A: Two fingers should fit comfortably between your neck and the shirt collar. The sleeves should end at your wrist. And you shouldn’t have a lot of leftover fabric in the waist when it’s tucked in.
Table of Contents
Tuxedo Shirt Collar Styles
The collar of your tuxedo shirt cannot be overlooked—figuratively speaking, and also literally, because your shirt collar frames your face. And people tend to glance toward faces when they’re not looking at their phones, so y’know, it’s important.
The most common type of collar today, and the most versatile. They work with suits and tuxedos alike, and both bow and neckties. Spread collars also come in a variety of points and angles—from the forward point collar with its narrow spread, to the cutaway collar’s wide spread (the “spread” refers to the distance between the collar points). Our spread collar shirts are designed with a semi-spread collar, or “the Jeff Goldblum of collar spreads” (everyone loves Jeff Goldblum).
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WING TIP COLLAR SHIRT
The Wing Tip gets its name from the fold-out collar points that look like wings. It’s the most formal collar option, designed to be worn with a bow tie and tuxedo. If you’re going for a laid-back look, this one isn’t for you—never wear a Wing Tip collar with a suit or necktie.
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OTHER TUXEDO SHIRT COLLARS
A band collar shirt, or Nehru collar shirt, is designed to be worn without a tie, making it instantly casual. Band collars are on the trendier edges of the tuxedo shirt spectrum, so only wear one with a tux if you’re confident in your style, and the event isn’t too formal.
Club collars and button downs are casual—too casual to wear with a tux. Save these collar styles for your suit.
Tuxedo Shirt Bibs
Some dress shirts have a rectangular panel that runs up the front of the shirt. It’s called a “bib,” and it doubles your shirt’s chest fabric, ensuring that anything visible under your tuxedo jacket is bright white, not see-through. Only wear bib-front shirts with a tuxedo and bow tie.
PLEATED TUXEDO SHIRT BIB
Pleated bibs feature vertical pleats that run up both sides of the button placket, and are a traditional detail on tuxedo shirts. A modern, narrow pleat can add a little sophistication to an otherwise traditional look.
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RUFFLED TUXEDO SHIRT BIB
You’ve probably never looked at photos from the ʼ70s, and thought, “I really want to dress like that”—but hear us out. The modern ruffled bib tuxedo shirt is a shortcut to adding personality to your outfit. For the right event (which probably isn’t a super-formal occasion), ruffles show you’re ahead of the curve, you came to have some fun, and you’re working on an entirely different level than everyone else.
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The minimalist choice, no bib tuxedo shirts are sleek, modern, and simple. If a bibbed tux shirt feels a little too proper for your style, nobody will miss the bib. Besides, there are other ways to add texture to your look.
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PIQUÉ TUXEDO SHIRT BIB
Piqué bibs, which are made from stiff fabric usually woven with a dimpled pattern, are considered slightly more formal than pleated bibs. The piqué weave was actually invented for white tie events, but you’ve probably worn a polo shirt or two that had a piqué collar.
If your tuxedo shirt has a breast pocket, it’s not a tuxedo shirt.
Tuxedo Shirt Plackets
If you’re not deep into formal shirt design, you might not know that the placket is the center strip of fabric where a shirt’s buttonholes are situated. And yes, you have options when it comes to your placket.
TUXEDO PLACKET (PLAIN FRONT)
This style looks a lot like the French front (below), but the top four buttons are removable for tuxedo studs. Please, let this style live up to its name, and only wear it with tuxes—it should never make an appearance under your suit jacket.
The most common type of placket style, and one you usually can’t go wrong with. Fabric is folded over and sewn with a fused interlining for a classic (and symmetrical) look.
NO PLACKET (FRENCH FRONT)
French front shirts don’t have that folded-over and sewn strip of fabric along the buttons. Going placket-less gives your shirt a cleaner, more minimalist feel, making it an ideal choice for both formal or casual shirts.
COVERED PLACKET (FLY FRONT)
The fly front is a formal, modern style of placket in which an extra piece of fabric covers up the buttons on your shirt. Because sometimes you’ve got to leave a little to the imagination.
Tuxedo Shirt Cuffs
If you tuxedo jacket fits properly, your shirt cuff will peak out from underneath. Show the world that your perfect fit wasn’t an accident, and put some thought into your shirt cuff style.
French cuffs are formal shirt cuffs that are rolled back and held in place by cufflinks. If you’re getting married or going to another event that requires a tuxedo, formal French cuffs will elevate your look. Besides, you should always take an opportunity to add a set of cufflinks to your look.
Barrel cuffs don’t require any rolling or cufflinks—instead, they are held closed by buttons. Most of your shirts probably have barrel cuffs. Unlike the typical, casual barrel cuff shirt that buttons shut, our barrel cuff dress shirts have modified buttonholes that can also accommodate cufflinks, bringing them up to tux code.
Tuxedo Shirt Fabrics
We live in a material world, so choose the right tuxedo shirt material. Sure, it’s a small detail, but in this case you may very literally end up sweating the small stuff. Nobody enjoys a soggy slow dance.
Cotton is breathable, making it perfect for dress shirts and tuxedo shirts. There’s nothing more comfortable, or more classic, than a crisp cotton shirt to contrast texture against a wool tuxedo jacket.
Some manufacturers use polyester to cut costs, adding durability and wrinkle resistance, but poly reduces breathability. What does that mean for you? Shirts that get very, very sweaty. You might spend three minutes ironing a cotton shirt, but at least it’s not a biohazard.
As for high-end alternatives to cotton, there’s silk. It’d be hard to find a problem with the wearability of a silk tuxedo shirt—it’s hypoallergenic, regulates your body temperature well, and its soft handfeel makes a kitten’s coat feel like burlap. The only downside? A quality silk tuxedo shirt can cost thousands of dollars.
The tuxedo shirt is actually where most of your tux accessories will live, and from cuff to collar, there are a lot of ways to personalize your look.
Tuxedo shirt button studs lend your outfit a more formal feel. They’re only for tuxedo shirts, and are designed to fit into the buttonholes of the shirt placket. Button studs are usually made of precious materials like gold, silver, or brass, and some have inlays like onyx or mother of pearl. If you’re also wearing a metallic cufflink, it’s best to match metals with your button studs—gold with gold, silver with silver.
Every man should learn how to wear cufflinks. It’s simple, actually, and cufflinks allow your personality to shine through when you’re wearing a formal outfit. It’s okay to have some fun with your cufflinks (we’ve seen everything from dinosaurs to french horns), but if you’re trying to show your serious side, stick to a metallic style. Or keep your cuffs minimal with classic silk knots, like the ones in this shirt.
Collar stays hide in a small pocket on the underside of your shirt collar, keeping the edges looking crisp and, well, on-point. They also weigh the collar down, making it less likely the edge of your tux jacket will cozy up awkwardly under your shirt collar.
Some collar stays are made of precious materials—stainless steel, brass, mother-of-pearl, and gold. This seems a little over-the-top, considering the goal here is not seeing the collar stay, but do you. Besides, a heavy plastic stay usually works just as well. Just avoid shirts with sewn-in collar stays—they should always be removed before ironing or starching.
BOW TIE VS. NECKTIE
Bow ties are a tux staple—they’re the traditional approach to the question of formal neckwear. But not every event has that strict of a dress code, and modern style means a lot more wiggle room for personal expression. Yes, neckties can be worn with tuxedos.
However, dress codes and formality aren’t the only things to consider when knotting up. The style of your tux shirt can help steer you one way or the other. Don’t wear a necktie with a wing tip collar, and likewise, avoid neckties with pleated or bibbed shirts. Wing tips and bibs are the bow tie’s territory. And this might go without saying, but just to be clear: never wear a necktie and button studs.
Pro Tip: Optimize your neckwear fabric to get the most mileage out of your tie choice.
Covering your Waist
One of the traditional guiding principles of a formal dress code is that all the working parts of your ensemble must be covered or dressed—which includes the intersection of your shirt and pant waist. While the rule has become more of a guideline, we still find the rule’s offspring in formalwear: vests and cummerbunds.
The cummerbund was invented to cover up the awkward shirt bunching that tends to happen around your waistband. Cummerbunds are rapidly approaching “old-fashioned” status, and we won’t go out of our way to recommend you wear one. But if you must wear one, match it with your tuxedo—no neon.
Like a cummerbund, you’ll usually only wear a low-cut vest—occasionally called a waistcoat—at black tie events. Low-cut vests are viewed as more formal and are cut lower in the front than a typical suit vest—hence the name—to show off your tuxedo shirt’s bib and/or studs.
Pro Tip: For a modern, effortless look, ditch the vest and cummberbund altogether and go bare (but still wear a shirt, obviously).
Tuxedo Shirt Colors
Does a tuxedo shirt have to be white? That depends on where you’re wearing it.
There’s no hard rule that says you must wear a white shirt with your tuxedo, but it’s easily the most popular, traditional way to go. It is, however, the only way to go if the event is on the more formal side. So okay, there is one rule.
We’ve seen the tuxedo with colored shirt styles, like light pink and light blue, worn at events like awards ceremonies. But the white tuxedo shirt’s biggest competition comes from the black shirt, hands-down. Pairing a black shirt with a tux is a relatively new trend, and it’s a more casual move than wearing white. Just double check the dress code before you opt for a colorful shirt, and never wear one to a black tie event.
You’ve picked your favorite of all the tuxedo shirt styles available, and it works well with the dress code and formality of your event. Now, you need to make sure it fits. Here’s what to look for.
A good body fit means keeping extra shirt fabric in the waist to a minimum, and enough length for the shirt to stay tucked in. The shirt body size is tied to the neck size of the shirt—as the neck size increases, the body of the shirt increases in size proportionately. Generally, a slim fit shirt will provide a good, tailored fit without requiring alterations, but keep your body type in mind—sometimes a classic fit (or regular fit) will give you the room you need to feel comfortable.
Your sleeves should end where your hand begins—right at the wrist break. If your sleeves reach your lower thumb knuckles, they’re too long. If they don’t reach the outer wrist bone, they’re too short. Shirt sleeves that end at the wrist leave just enough cuff—about ¼” to ½”—to peek out from under properly fitting tuxedo jacket sleeves. And just like the body of the shirt, the width of the shirt sleeves are proportionate to the shirt’s neck size. If you tend to have billowy shirt sleeves, try a slim fit.
With the top shirt button fastened, you should be able to comfortably fit one or two fingers between your neck and the collar band of the shirt. If you’re the kind of guy who always wears his shirt unbuttoned at the top, this might feel a little tight in the beginning, but the alternative is a droopy collar and saggy tie. If every part of your shirt fits well but the collar is just a hair too tight, you may need a collar extender—a small accessory that hides behind your tie and adds ½” of stretch to your collar.
The most important tool in your shirt care toolbelt (if such a toolbelt exists) is a good, reliable iron. The iron is your best bet for knocking out last minute wrinkles or creases on the collar, chest or cuff of your shirt—the visible parts that matter most. Otherwise, leave stains, starch, and general cleaning to the pros at your local drycleaner.
Sorting through all of the tuxedo shirt styles available is only half the battle. Unless you’re heading to a Halloween costume wedding as Tom Cruise in Risky Business, you’ll need a tuxedo. But finding a tuxedo that actually fits can be a hassle.
That’s why we made it easy. Answer a few simple questions to find your sizes, order online, and we’ll deliver your outfit to your door—no tux shop required. Plus, it’ll actually fit. Sound good? Get started here.
You’ve earned your certificate in tuxedo shirts. Now graduate from Tux U. Check out our ultimate guide to tuxedo styles.