What exactly is the difference between a tuxedo and a normal suit? This is the question that gets asked again and again, generation after generation. A lot of the problem comes from the fact that a couple of generations since the 1980s haven’t received a basic education in suit decorum.
After the 1960s the requirement to wear a suit for anything social disappeared in the U.S. By the 1970s, casual was being redefined dramatically. For example, in the 1950s, when people flew in an airplane for travel, everyone was dressed to the nines. Twenty years later, people were wearing sandals, torn jeans, and gauchos.
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A Social Disappearance
While the business suit still remained the standard in the office until maybe about 20 years ago, especially with the business casual approach of the tech industry, the tuxedo almost disappeared entirely.
Aside from special events like weddings and high school proms, tuxedos simply weren’t part of the wardrobe anymore. When they were needed, people for the most part rented them.
Only a small part of the population actually owns a tuxedo or gets a new one as needed with size changes. These are also groups that wear them regularly. Other than that, the business suit became the definition of “formal” wear in the 1980s.
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The Intent of the Tuxedo is Specific
The tuxedo, however, is very much a suit designed for events, celebrations, formal presentations, and similar. It stands out; the tux is designed to be seen and to emphasize the wearer in a crowd.
So, it’s really worth considering as special wear for a black tie party and similar. Granted, there are very fine business suits that can be worn to formal affairs too.
However, when matched up against a tuxedo, the tux is going to win almost every time in appearance and presentation.
Physical Differences Between the Two
In terms of design, business suits generally look very much the same. The variation in suits comes in their fabric as well as their construction.
High-quality business suits are lined on the inside and use higher-grade materials for the coat and stitching. Tuxedos, on the other hand, have high quality and the same with stitching, but their styles and cuts can vary quite a bit.
There are actually three main types of tuxes defined by their collar: notched lapels, peak lapels, and shawl lapels. Notches are the most common and similar to business suits.
Peak lapels are a bit more muted, and shawl lapels are most often seen on entertainers with a sleek, slim cut and line around the edge of the jacket.
Tuxedos also tend to be very uniform in solid colors. If they vary, it’s with a standout jacket color like white, or burgundy satin. Pants usually tend to be black with shiny gloss black shoes.
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Again, business suits tend to be more commonplace, but a tuxedo really provides a standout appearance and experience. Try it sometime with your next event invite when possible. You might find wearing a tuxedo is something you definitely look forward to whenever you can, going forward.
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