The Right Tuxedo

Everybody's crazy about a sharp dressed man: Whether it's a Christmas party, or you just fancy making some heads turn while you're out on the town, the tuxedo is an essential item this festive season says Georgina Heffernan

When it comes to men's clothing, there's nothing quite as cool as a tuxedo. It’s more than 100 years since the tux first came into fashion but now, with the popularity of shows such as Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and The Hour, the classic style is back in style.


The quintessential male alternative to the Little Black Dress, it conjures up images of Frank Sinatra Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Sean Connery and Dean Martin looking super cool in their stylish evening wear. Today, it works beautifully for the youthful Ryan Gosling and that salt-n-pepper looker George Clooney.


To stay on trend this season, the jacket should be single breasted. Double-breasted tuxedos may be a style that's spot-on for now, but the single-breasted variety is a timeless classic. Black is the traditional colour but midnight blue is an inspired twist. White tuxedos are worn in warm climates - so unless you are planning a trip abroad or happen to be Brian Ferry – they are best avoided.


When it comes to lapels, they are currently wider, evoking old- school Hollywood glamour, but for a timeless style stick to a shawl collar. Trousers should always be plain, not patterned, although a satin trim down the length of the leg is always stylish. As for turn-ups? Not even if your life depended on it.


Quite where the word tuxedo comes from is unclear. Some point to New York millionaire James Potter, who had one run up in Savile Row for a trip to Sandringham, staying with the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. He took it back to the Tuxedo Park Club, playground for New York's elite, and the fashion caught on. Others say the suit was already being worn by the club's members, looking for an alternative to much more formal tailcoats.


However, the name tuxedo stuck, and it's grown in popularity - it's the suit of choice for celebrities when stepping out along the red carpet. Lesser mortals choose it for weddings and formal nights. Double-breasted styles look best on trimmer men, while single button styles are the most flattering.


But remember. Only ever wear a tuxedo when the invitation specifies that you should. Arriving at an event and being the only man present in black tie, is among the most serious of fashion faux pas. Being mistaken for the maitre d' is not what any man about town is looking for, after all.


TOP TIPS
If you don't have the formalwear fundamentals down, you can't take evening dressing to the next level.


1. Find the tuxedo jacket shape that's appropriate for your body. Remember this is something you plan to sport for years to come; it needs to transcend the moment.


2. Decide on a style that works, whether it's a single or double- breasted suit with either shawl or peak lapel. The trousers are uncuffed and are trimmed in satin or grosgrain, depending on the lapel's fabric. Be prepared to cover the waistband with either a cummerbund or vest, and wear suspenders.


3. Wear the right shoes for tuxedo dressing. A classic polished brogue always works best.


4. Learn how to tie a bow tie. Clip-ons are a no-no.


5. Slip a handkerchief into your pocket. A pocket square is the least expensive way to make the outfit look expensive.