Asking what makes a tuxedo and a suit different is an age-old question that gets asked on a regular basis because to the non-discerning eye, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference.

You might even say that the tuxedo is quite possibly one of the most questioned outfits to ever hit men’s fashion.

Of course, it makes sense considering the backstory of both the tux and the suit.

A Brief History of the Tuxedo

 Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit?

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Tuxedos first hit the men’s fashion scene around 1865 courtesy of Prince Edward VII because he wanted something that wasn’t the traditional tailcoat that had been the presiding look at the time.

Types of Tuxedos

 Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit?

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Prior to that time, white-tie formal attire had been the only acceptable clothing to wear to a formal event.

Even today, white-tie dress is the pinnacle of formal attire, but few understand quite how it works. To think it all started with the change and innovation that Prince Edward mandated because he wanted something different.

A tailor from Henry Poole & Co., Savile Row, was actually the person that fitted Prince Edward. The prince had wanted something that was still formal but without a tail.

The ideal look would be something that could translate well into formal and informal settings. The resulting look was called a dinner jacket, first commissioned in a dark blue and with a pair of matching pants.

Originally only available in black and dark blue, the dinner jacket or tuxedo as it was later called, usually had accessories to complete the appearance. There was a significant level of importance assigned to having proper evening wear, and there was an air of sophistication that went with it.

In the 1800s


The tuxedo became popular in 1886 when aristocrat, James Brown Potters attended the Autumn Ball in Tuxedo Park, New York. Potter was a friend of the prince and is the most likely individual to have brought the dinner jacket to this side of the world. How it spread to the rest of the country depends on the story you hear.

In the 1900s


Dinner jackets became the norm in the early part of the 20th century and remained popular among the upper class through the rest of the 1930s. The two most popular colors remained the dark blue and black when it came to the tuxedo.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that the tuxedo moved out of the way, and suits began to take center stage. There were more styles and colors incorporated into the suits that you would see.

But once again, in the 1950s, tuxes began to make a comeback. By this time, it was rare that you’d see a white-tie event, but you would often see black-tie dress at the most formal of affairs. Traditional tuxedos came around during this time and didn’t change much more until the 1970s.

When the 1970s hit, the formal tuxedo was completely reinvented and now reflected the age of disco. Trousers were now bell-bottoms, shirts now had ruffled fronts, and you’d see larger bows instead of the stuff bow-ties from generations past.

Modern Times


Once disco fell to the backseat, so did the stylings of the tuxedo, and they once again began to appear more conservative. This became the new normal until the 21st century when the lines started to blur.

Alas, the tuxedos became a garment that people used to wear a long time ago, and suits were the clothing of choice. Men didn’t wear tuxes as much instead favoring black suits along with colored button-down dress shirts. Formal wear didn’t have much of a place anymore.

That is at least until the past several years. Tuxedos are trying to come back thanks to men that are realizing that there was something to be said about the class and sophistication that were simply part of a tuxedo. Like all fashions, even men’s clothing styles come and go, and the tuxedo is one that should eventually come back as more men are making a choice for the classic tux.

A Brief History of Suits

1800s

1900s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

60s-70s

80s-90s

The Difference Between Tux and Suit

There are a few key differences between a tux and a suit, but truth be told, there really aren’t very many.

 Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit?

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One of the main things is color. Tuxes are traditionally either black or midnight blue for a truly formal affair. Anything else is probably best left to a high school prom.

Tuxes should also only be worn with bowties because assuming you’re wearing the correct lapels, a tie would not look right and would actually detract from the overall appearance.

Suits, on the other hand, can be worn with neckties or bowties and lapel placement ensures that either will work.

 Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit?

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You don’t ever want to wear a cummerbund or waistcoat with a suit, but they are standard pieces of a tuxedo. Tuxedos should also only ever be worn for evening formal affairs, while suits are worn for daytime or evening informal occasions.

Also, consider the shirt style you’d be wearing. Any color can work with a suit, but with a tux, white with black studs is the only color that is truly appropriate.

You’ll also want to look at the difference between tux and suit when you’re looking at the pants. Tux pants are plain at the bottom, never cuffed. Suit pants, on the other hand, come in both plan and cuffed bottoms.

Another difference that you need to pay attention to is the shoes that you choose for the garment. Tuxedo shoes should be patent black leather, while shoes for suits tend to complement the fabrics and colors can vary.

A Few Last Words

When you can’t decide between a tux or a suit, you’re going to want to ensure that you think about the time of day and the occasion that you’re going to be wearing them.

If it’s an evening, formal affair, then a tuxedo might be what you need. Alternatively, if it’s a daytime celebration or a day at the office, a suit is going to be a better choice.

Just keep in mind that the differences really can make or break your overall appearance goals.

Whatever you do, don’t make exceptions for tuxes and wear them as they were meant to be worn.

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