Wearing a cummerbund or vest is often considered a necessity with your tuxedo; however, this is not the case.
It’s entirely possible to wear a tuxedo without a cummerbund and vest, but it has to be done the right way. So, how do you do it?
To wear a tuxedo without a cummerbund or vest, you must make sure your jacket is double-breasted and kept buttoned for the entire occasion. Your tuxedo should fit well and preferably be black. You should always wear a cummerbund or vest to a black-tie event.
Although that’s the crux, there’s way more to it.
With that in mind, let’s explore further.
1. Wear A Double-Breasted Tuxedo Jacket
It’s important to wear a double-breasted tuxedo jacket if you choose not to wear a cummerbund or vest.
A common criticism of wearing a tuxedo without a cummerbund or vest is that the outfit looks incomplete.
Wearing a double-breasted jacket detracts attention from the lack of a cummerbund or vest and draws attention to the jacket itself.
This makes the outfit look more complete as there’s an extra feature compensating for the cummerbund or vest.
It’s worth noting that, typically, you’d want to avoid drawing attention to yourself at a formal or black-tie event.
However, by wearing a double-breasted tuxedo jacket, you will attract little enough attention to not seem disrespectful while also attracting enough so that not wearing a vest or cummerbund is acceptable.
2. Button Your Tuxedo Jacket
When wearing a tuxedo without a cummerbund or vest, it’s essential to make sure your tuxedo jacket is kept buttoned.
An unbuttoned tuxedo jacket would reveal more of your shirt than necessary. As shirts have a habit of bunching towards the bottom, one of the purposes of a cummerbund or vest is to hide this, keeping the outfit crisp.
If you aren’t wearing a cummerbund or vest, it’s important to ensure that the potential bunching towards the bottom of your shirt is hidden.
The way you can do this is by keeping your tuxedo jacket buttoned.
As well as hiding the bunching of your shirt, buttoning your tuxedo jacket will also make the outfit look complete.
It’s often said that not wearing a cummerbund or vest can make an outfit look incomplete, so buttoning your jacket is a way to prevent this.
Like ensuring your tuxedo jacket is double-breasted, keeping it buttoned will draw attention away from the lack of a cummerbund or vest – especially with a double-breasted jacket.
3. Ensure A Good Fit
An essential part of looking good in any outfit is ensuring it fits well – this is particularly true for wearing a tuxedo jacket without a cummerbund or vest.
Typically, cummerbunds and vests are used to keep the outfit looking crisp and minimal, and by not wearing one of them, you are potentially sacrificing this.
One way to maintain this dapper look is by making sure your clothes fit well, especially your tuxedo jacket.
Ideally, your tuxedo jacket should conform to the shape of your shoulders, lie flat on your shoulders, and be snug but with enough room for movement freedom.
Double-breasted jackets are slightly different in that they should be wider at the shoulders and snug around the hips.
This means that double-breasted jackets can be much more flattering than the standard tuxedo jacket.
The length of your jacket is also an important factor. It should be long enough so that it is barely covering your buttocks. Additionally, your sleeves should reveal 1/4 to 3/4 inches of the cuff of your shirt.
Going to a tailor is highly recommended to get that perfect fit.
4. Keep It Black
Black is arguably the most versatile and appropriate color for occasions where you’ll be wearing a tuxedo.
It’s particularly important to ensure your tuxedo is black when wearing it without a cummerbund or jacket.
Because cummerbunds and jackets help maintain formality, the lack of them must be compensated for.
You can do this by making sure your tuxedo is black. Alternatively, midnight blue will do the job, but black is ideal.
Black is a very versatile color and is, therefore, appropriate in most situations. When wearing a tuxedo, you’ll likely be attending a formal event.
At formal events, it’s vital you stick to the correct dress code, which is black in most cases.
Any different colors could attract unwanted attention. This would not be appropriate at formal events.
Similarly, patterns aren’t appropriate and are entirely unnecessary. The double-breasted tuxedo jacket is a staple piece in its own right. Therefore, different patterns or designs aren’t necessary to make this apparel stand out.
On top of this, the double-breasted tuxedo jacket is likely to draw a little attention, so any extra would be excessive.
5. Consider A Necktie
Generally, wearing a necktie with a tuxedo is avoided due to the awkward overlap of the tie and cummerbund.
However, when you aren’t wearing a cummerbund with your tuxedo, this is no longer a problem.
This means that you have some freedom to experiment with a necktie. Although experimentation isn’t usually advised for formal events, it is appropriate in this instance.
If deciding to wear a necktie with your tuxedo, it’s important to ensure common tie practices.
This includes the correct color, knot, and length of your necktie.
At a formal event – where a tuxedo is necessary – your tie should always be black, with no patterns. This is a widely accepted rule and should pretty much always be followed.
The most popular and elegant tie knot for such events is a Windsor knot. It’s subtle and looks great with a tuxedo.
Typically, ties aren’t worn with cummerbunds because the best length for them means that they significantly overlap with the cummerbund.
When you aren’t wearing a cummerbund, however, the best tie length is where the tip of your tie rests at the middle of your waistband (or belt if you’re wearing one) when standing in your natural posture.
While wearing a necktie is appropriate without a cummerbund or vest, it isn’t a necessity.
Wearing a bowtie will do the job just as well and is arguably less controversial.
6. Avoid At White Tie Events
White tie events are the pinnacle of formality and have a stringent dress code. Therefore, you should avoid any deviation from the standard attire on such occasions.
This includes the experimentation of not wearing a cummerbund or vest with your tuxedo: you should always wear one of them at a white tie event.
Because of the formality of a white tie event, you should always stick to the classic, conservative style.
Traditionally, you wouldn’t wear a tuxedo at a white tie event as tailcoats are considered the most appropriate garment.
However, it’s becoming increasingly common to wear tuxedos and other alternatives at more lenient white tie events such as “white weddings”.
If wearing a tuxedo to a “white wedding”, it’s important that you do it the right way.
Understanding that you should always wear either a cummerbund or a vest at a white tie event where a tuxedo is appropriate is crucial to pulling off the look.