Tuxedo vs Suit: Details Make the Difference

The difference between tuxedo vs suit styles is in the details. Learn how these outfits differ and find the perfect look for your next event.

silk lapels are the primary difference between tux and suit styles

What’s the difference?

While there is a big difference between tuxedos and suits, it’s not always obvious what sets these two formal wear staples apart. After all, tuxedos and suits have a lot in common: they’re both are made up of a combination of a jacket and matching dress pants, and paired with relatively formal ties, shoes and accessories.

The details are where we find the real differences. Let’s dig into the tuxedo vs suit convo and dive deeper so you know which one to wear for your next event.

Table of Contents

Jacket Differences
Tuxedo vs Suit Pants
Shirt Differences
Tuxedo vs Suit Ties
Tuxedo vs Suit Shoes

Tuxedo vs Suit Jacket Differences

Tux Jacket
Silk lapels? Definitely a tux jacket.

The jacket is a great place to start if you’re looking for the main differences between tuxedos and suits. That’s because tuxedos are defined by the accent fabrics used (and where), and lapels (the fabric that folds away from your chest) and the buttons will be a bit different on a tux vs suit.

blue tuxedo vs suit jacket
L to R: Tuxedo vs suit jacket.

Tuxedos feature a silk satin lapel (often black silk, but not always), while suits are designed in one consistent fabric on the body and lapels of the jacket. If you spot the lapel shimmer, you’re probably eyeballing a tux. Likewise, the buttons on the jacket can tell you a lot. Tuxedo buttons are often covered in silk, while suits feature normal buttons made of horn.

Tux with silk satin lapels, buttons, and pocket accents.

If you look closely, and you might also notice a silk satin accent on the breast pocket or waist pockets of a tux. Conversely, suits always have a simple breast pocket opening and the same fabric throughout.

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Suit vs Tuxedo Pants

black tuxedo pants
The silk stripe is the key—these are tuxedo pants.

As with the suit vs tux jackets, the primary difference between suit vs tuxedo pants comes down to fabric placement. Tuxedo pants usually feature a satin silk stripe down the outseam (the outer length of the pants).

grey tuxedo vs suit pants
L to R: Tuxedo vs suit pants.

Some tuxedo pants have a silk waistband, but they never have belt loops. Instead, tux pants have waist adjusters on either or side, or they’re tailored to fit the wearer’s waist. Utility is the name of the suit game, and suit pants are almost always designed with belt loops.

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Tux vs Suit Shirt Differences

white bibbed tuxedo shirt by the black tux
Does it look almost too fancy? It’s probably designed for a tux.

While some of the traditional formal wear rules hold up, others can feel a bit outdated. For example, you’d always wear a formal pleated bib and wing tip collar with a tux, and a less formal dress shirt would be frowned upon (sad).

The traditional bibbed wing tip shirt is still a safe choice, but for a modern look, try a shirt with a fold-down collar. We offer a few styles that mix and match modern and classic elements of the tuxedo shirt, and both would pair well with any tux. Limit your shirt color choice to white when you wear a tuxedo for the biggest impact.

traditional bibbed tuxedo shirt vs blue suit shirt
L to R: Traditional tuxedo vs suit shirt.

Pretty much anything else is fair game for a suit, including patterns and colors, but don’t try to break the old formal wear rules and wear a pleated shirt with a suit vs tux. That would be like eating a steak with your bare hands, or a Big Mac with a knife and fork.

barrel Suit vs tuxedo shirt french cuffs
L to R: Suit vs tuxedo shirt cuffs.

The topic of shirt cuffs might seem like tux vs suit minefield, but cuff design is mostly a personal style thing. If you want to wear cufflinks, just make sure your shirt cuffs are compatible (all of our shirt styles work with cufflinks). Because tuxedos are a bit more formal, french style cuffs (on the right above) would probably be a better tux match.

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Suit vs Tux Ties & Neckwear

Tuxedo equals bow tie, suit equals necktie—right? Not necessarily.

The biggest difference between suit neckwear and tuxedo ties comes down to the dress code of the event. For the formal dress codes, plan to wear a black bow tie with your tuxedo, or at least a bow tie in the black and white color palette. The less formal the dress code is, the more freedom you have to sub in a patterned bow tie or even a necktie—all of which works just as well with a suit.

black tuxedo bow ties
Tuxedo bow ties for formal dress codes.

When you wear a suit, you can mix up the colors a little more—a very popular move when couples choose their wedding ties. There’s nothing stopping you from wearing a bow tie with a suit, though neckties are a more common choice.

casual suit neckwear
Less formal neckwear works best with a suit.

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Tuxedo vs Suit Shoes

Tuxedo shoes vs suit shoes
Can you spot the difference between tuxedo vs suit shoes?

Oxfords, derbys, loafers, sneakers. There are so many styles to categorize, and which shoes are acceptable to wear with a suit or a tuxedo is always changing. That’s why we’re not going to dive into those weeds, except to say: If you’re going to wear sneakers with a suit or tuxedo, do it with confidence—that’s half the battle.

velvet and grosgrain patent leather tux loafer slip on shoes
Velvet and patent leather shoes for tuxedos.

A simple way to contrast shoes for a tuxedo vs a suit is by varying the shoe’s material. The classic tuxedo look features a patent leather shoe. Velvet is also a trending shoe material match for a tuxedo, often styled into a loafer. Some designers even mix materials, like patent leather and grosgrain ribbon, or even a matte leather combo. We recommend black tux shoes unless this is a festive, fashionable, or laid back event.

brown suede and black leather suit shoes
Suede and polished leather shoes for suits.

There’s no rule that says you can’t wear patent leather shoes with a suit—potentially a big style flex—but suede and polished leather shoes are more common choices when you’re not putting the finishing touches on a tux.

man in grey suit by the black tux

Tuxedos and suits that fit.

Once you make your decision between a tuxedo vs suit, you’ll need to find one that fits your bod. Anyone who has shopped for a suit (or went to prom in the ’90s) can tell you that used to be pretty tricky, which is exactly why we changed it.

Not only do we offer a full collection of modern tuxedos, suits, and accessories (not to mention free home delivery), but we make it easy to find the perfect fit. Just answer a few simple questions about you and your body, and we’ll tell you your sizes. Simple, right?