The dos and don’ts of wearing a tuxedo can get overwhelming. One commonly asked question when it comes to wearing a tux is – can you wear a regular dress shirt with a tuxedo?
You should not wear a regular dress shirt with a tuxedo, as it would be too casual to be worn as part of a black-tie outfit. Instead, you should wear a tuxedo shirt as they include formal features that look much more appropriate when worn with a tuxedo.
That’s the general gist.
But let’s get into the reasons why you shouldn’t wear a regular dress shirt with a tuxedo in a little more detail.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Regular Dress Shirt With A Tuxedo
Although it may be tempting at first, wearing a regular dress shirt with a tuxedo is a fashion combination that should be avoided.
A lot of this comes down to the fact that a regular dress shirt is simply too informal to be worn together with a tuxedo.
Let’s discuss this in more detail, and explain why you should opt for a tuxedo shirt instead.
1. The Collar Is Too Informal
One important difference between regular dress shirts and tuxedo shirts is the collar styles they come with.
Regular dress shirts can be found with many different collar styles, such as the straight collar, button-down collar, and band collar.
One thing that these collar types have in common, is that they are generally too informal to be worn with a tuxedo.
Additionally, these types of collars do not pair so well with bow ties, which is the tie of choice when it comes to wearing a tuxedo.
Tuxedo shirts, on the other hand, have 2 types of collars that are formal enough to pair well with a tuxedo shirt.
These are the wing-tip collar and the semi-spread collar. Both of these collar types look great with classic black bow ties.
The wing-tip collar is the more formal style of the two, and with this collar style, the entire collar does not fold down over itself like a standard collar.
This means that the entire band of your bow tie will be visible, which is a great way to emphasize this part of your outfit.
The take-home here is that regular dress shirts generally have collars that look too casual to be worn with a tuxedo, so a more appropriate option is to choose a tuxedo shirt instead.
Here’s an example of a standard tuxedo shirt on
2. They Don’t Have Bibs
One thing that really sets apart tuxedo shirts from regular dress shirts is the presence of a bib.
Now, this is not the type of bib you may be thinking about; I’m talking about the extra layer of fabric that often sits on the front of a tuxedo shirt that you won’t find on a dress shirt.
This panel of fabric adds an extra style to the front of the tuxedo shirt, which will show through the tuxedo jacket, and also adds an extra layer of formality to a black-tie outfit.
Because regular dress shirts lack this front panel, again this makes them simply appear less formal and therefore they contrast negatively with a tuxedo suit.
In other words, normal dress shirts would simply appear too plain to be worn with a tuxedo.
It is true that not all tuxedo shirts come with a bib; enter the plain fronted tuxedo shirt, which comes without this extra fabric panel.
However, even this plain tuxedo shirt – which is seen as the least formal type of tuxedo shirt – would still be considered more formal than a regular dress shirt, by virtue of other features, such as their collar, placket style, and cuffs.
Hence, this is another reason why regular dress shirts are too informal to be worn with a tuxedo.
3. They Don’t Have The Right Placket Style
A shirt placket is simply the name for the piece of fabric which runs down the center of the front of a shirt and contains buttonholes and buttons.
Both regular dress shirts and tuxedo shirts have plackets. However, regular dress shirts carry placket styles that are not well suited to being worn with tuxedos.
This is because normal dress shirts will typically have a standard placket or a no placket front (also known as the french placket). In both of these styles, the buttons or buttonholes are visible.
As a general rule, buttons on shirts worn with a tuxedo shouldn’t be visible, as they are seen as informal. Instead, the plackets on shirts that are worn with tuxedos are usually concealed, or designed to be worn with button studs.
This is the case with tuxedo shirts, which carry certain placket styles that are not typically found on regular dress shirts.
The most obvious one is the tuxedo placket, also known as the plain front placket. With this style of placket, the top buttons are usually removed and left as open buttonholes, to allow studs to be used.
Tuxedo shirts may also come with a covered placket, in which the buttonholes are covered by fabric so that buttons are not visible.
Overall, this makes tuxedo shirts more formal than regular dress shirts, and therefore more appropriate to be worn with tuxedos.
4. They Sometimes Have Pockets
Some regular dress shirts are made with inbuilt breast pockets, and this is a problem when it comes to wearing a tuxedo.
Pockets on a shirt are definitely at the more casual end of the spectrum, and so for this reason they do not go well with a tuxedo, which is black tie formal attire.
As a result, if your shirt has a breast pocket, then it shouldn’t be worn with a tuxedo. For this reason, you will never find a tuxedo shirt that has breast pockets.
Although you can find regular dress shirts that are pocket-free, this is still a reason why as a general rule it is not recommended to wear a regular dress shirt with your tuxedo.
5. They Have An Informal Cuff Style
Regular dress shirts usually have barrel cuffs, which do not require cufflinks in order to be held together and are usually fastened by a simple button.
This is the type of cuff that you will be used to seeing on most shirts.
Although convenient, and a good way to keep your shirt secure around your wrists, this barrel style of cuff is seen as more informal.
Although you may think that you can hide your sleeves beneath your tuxedo jacket, it is the presence of a smart cuff style and cufflinks that can really set off your tuxedo outfit.
Tuxedo shirts will usually have one of two cuff types; French cuffs or convertible cuffs.
Both of these cuff styles are designed so that they can be worn with cufflinks, which is generally expected when you are wearing a tuxedo.
The most formal cuff style is the French cuff, which looks great when paired with a set of cufflinks of your choice.
Overall then, because regular dress shirts lack these cuff styles, this is another reason that you shouldn’t wear them with a tuxedo to a formal event.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now understand why wearing a regular dress shirt with a tuxedo is best avoided in pretty much all circumstances.
There are several other questions that often come up when it comes to shirts and tuxedos.
I’ll try and shed some light on these below.
Can You Wear A Tuxedo Shirt Casually?
You should avoid wearing a tuxedo shirt as part of a casual outfit because the formality of the tuxedo shirt does not pair well with a casual set of trousers.
Technically, yes you could decide to wear a tuxedo shirt with jeans instead of the usual tuxedo.
But should you?
The safest answer here is always no; it will generally look odd to pair a tuxedo shirt with jeans or casual trousers and no jacket, and it is something it is not really done.
Unless you are emulating some sort of costume or walking down a high fashion runway, it is really best to avoid wearing a tuxedo shirt casually unless you want to draw a few odd looks.
The collar, cuff style, and placket style that define the tuxedo shirt and make it appear formal and so will clash when paired with casual trousers.
This is a situation where it is best to stick to the classical rules of dressing.
Can You Wear Studs With A Regular Dress Shirt?
You can wear studs with a regular dress shirt if they have stud holes. However regular dress shirts do not commonly have stud holes, unlike tuxedo shirts which should almost always be worn with stud fastenings.
If your shirt has stud holes, then yes, you can wear it with studs. This goes for certain regular dress shirts as well as tuxedo shirts.
In fact, although studs should always be worn at formal events or black-tie events, they are being worn more and more even at semi-formal/black-tie optional events, even though they are not strictly speaking required.
It is true that studs are more classically paired with a tuxedo shirt than a regular dress shirt, and this is why you won’t find as many regular dress shirts that have stud holes.
But if your regular dress shirt does have stud holes, then it has been designed with the option of wearing studs and so this is acceptable, albeit less common.
At the end of the day, when dressing for a black-tie formal occasion you don’t want to be that person who stands out because they made an awkward fashion faux pas.
For formal events such as these, there is less room for error due to most people adhering to the traditional rules of dress.
Hopefully, this article has given you some clarity as to why you shouldn’t wear a regular dress shirt and opt for a tuxedo shirt instead when you are wearing a tuxedo.