What’s the difference between a dinner jacket and a tux? It’s actually just in the name. In the UK, we say dinner jackets; across the pond, they say tuxedos. Though nowadays, calling it a tuxedo is becoming more and more common over here.
Either way, the real distinction you need to know is the difference between a tuxedo and an evening suit. You’ll usually have a fancy invitation that spells out black tie before you need to reach for a tux. It can be anything from a prom to a ball, premiere or opening night – basically, any occasion that demands you look your smartest.
Both are pretty smart, right? Yes, but the real difference between a tuxedo and a suit is that one is fancier than the other. It comes down to satin – dinner jackets have it, evening suit jackets generally don’t. You’ll usually see satin adding elegance to the lapels, buttons and pockets of a dinner jacket. The satin is black, pretty much universally. So even if you go for a tux in burgundy velvet or navy wool, it’ll probably have black satin detailing. The main body material can have a slight sheen too, which you don’t normally see on standard suits.
The lapels of a suit and tux are where the lines start to blur. Both evening suit jackets and dinner jackets can have notch and peak lapels, with peak lapels generally standing out as the dressier option. The difference comes with shawl lapels. These are the single pieces of material that sit in an unbroken curve from your collar to your waist, and they’re only seen on dinner jackets.
You’re also more likely to see a single-button fastening on a tux and a two-button fastening on a business suit. It’s because, broadly speaking, the fewer buttons there are on a jacket, the more formal it is. Both dinner jackets and suit jackets can be double-breasted, so it’s best to look at the other pointers to decide which side of the fence it sits on.
For black-tie occasions, you’ve got a dress code to follow. This actually makes styling your tux pretty easy. Just follow these steps…
It all starts with finding your tux, and you can follow our guidelines above for this. Next, reach for a white dress shirt – it can have either white or black buttons, and will sometimes be pleated down the front. Just remember to keep the pleats subtle for a more modern look. Choose a classic collar, saving wing collars for white tie, and remember your cufflinks because your shirt will probably have double cuffs too.
Then, add a bow tie (learn how to tie yours here). Play it safe with black or let it be the talking point of your outfit with a bold pattern or colour. Finish off your accessories with a white pocket square in a flat fold or in a neat ruffle. If you want to, you can wear a cummerbund but it’s not necessary.
Finally, choose a pair of dress shoes in black leather or patent, and give them a good polish the night before.
If you want to wear a dinner jacket to a party, choose one in a pattern or bold colour, and wear black trousers and no tie. Team it with either a button-down shirt or a t-shirt to keep it casual for a confident, laidback look.