Decoding Dress Codes: The Difference Between a Tux and a Suit

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 01/24/24
Decoding Dress Codes: The Difference Between a Tux and a Suit

Decoding Dress Codes: The Difference Between a Tux and a Suit

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 01/24/24
Groom Hacks

Part of the Groom Hacks

Decoding Dress Codes: The Difference Between a Tux and a Suit

By  Mac Molli
Updated on 01/24/24

To tux or not to tux, that is the question. And you can’t answer it unless you know the difference between a suit and a tux.

A trendy outfit for formal occasions and loved by multiple incarnations of James Bond, modern tuxedos remain a firm favorite among those that dress to impress.

But on the other hand, a dapper dinner suit or slim-cut two-piece can look just as suave.

When choosing what to wear for a wedding, the debate of tuxedo vs. suit often comes up. After all, it’s natural that you want to look exceptional for the main event.

So what exactly is the difference? And more importantly, which one should you opt for?

Let’s find out.

What Is the Difference Between a Suit and a Tux?

The critical difference between a tux and a suit is that all tuxedos are suits but not all suits are tuxedos.


Don’t worry, we were scratching our heads at this too. But actually, it’s pretty straightforward if you know what you are looking for.

Essentially you need to remember the following:

  • A tux is reserved for formal events in the evening (after 6 pm). You wear a black bow tie with a tux
  • A suit can be suitable for any occasion, including formal events, the office, day-to-day, weddings, and more

Suit features

What’s the Difference Between a Suit and Tux Jacket?

Let’s take a closer look. There are some notable differences between a tux and a suit jacket. The most obvious difference is that they are not made from the same fabric:

  • Tuxedo jackets have satin facing on the lapels, pocket trims, and buttons. Variations of this include a satin trim on the lapels rather than featuring full satin.
  • A suit will not feature satin and can be made from any material. The buttons may be plastic or fabric, depending on the style.

Additionally, the overall style differs between the two jackets:

  • A tuxedo has sweeping or wide lapels called “shawl lapels.”
  • Suit jackets typically feature notch lapels.

What’s the Difference Between a Tux and Suit Pants?

There are, of course, some differences between suits and tuxedo pants:

  • Tuxedo pants feature a stripe of satin down the side seam
  • Suit pants are plain with no accent stripe

While we’re here, let’s also cover the shoes:

  • A tuxedo requires shiny black patent leather shoes buffed to perfection.
  • You can pair any shoes with a suit, and the color can be contrasting. For example, brown shoes look great with a light gray suit.

What’s the Difference Between a Tux and Suit Shirt and Accessories?

Finally, we get to the rest of the outfit. After all, it’s not just the pants and jacket that complete the look.

The shirt is an essential component for both a tuxedo and a suit and can make or break the look:

  • A proper tuxedo shirt is white with a bibbed front and a swing collar. However, a crisp white shirt with a fold-down collar can also be acceptable. Pleated shirts are also popular and widely used
  • A suit shirt can be any color, pattern, or style. But if you want to be wise, opt for a fold-down collar.

To top off the look, you need either a bow tie or a necktie. We’ve already covered that bow ties are the only suitable option for a tux. In most cases, the black bow tie should be worn. Still, occasionally a white one will be perfectly reasonable.

Neckties are the preferred option for smart or formal suits. Choose a high-quality fabric like silk, and feel free to play with color and pattern here. You can wear a bow tie with a suit, but choose the pairing carefully as it can quickly look out of place.
Tuxedo features

Why the Difference Between a Tux and Suit Matters for a Wedding

Now for the million-dollar question, which should you wear for your wedding? 

The decision boils down to two factors:

  • Your personal style and comfort
  • When and where is the wedding taking place

A tux will look stunning if you’re going for a very high-end or formal affair. Depending on your color scheme, you can add a modern twist by choosing a color other than black. For example, heather gray tuxedos are on trend right now, as are slate blue tuxedos.

You might want to consider a tropical black tie for a destination or beachside wedding. This consists of a tux with a white dinner jacket instead of the traditional black.

Ultimately, if you like dressing up to the nines and simply want to wear a tux because it looks so good, then do. It’s your wedding, and you can style yourself however you want.

On the other hand, a well-chosen suit can look devastatingly classy. Suits offer many styles and colors over a tux for originality and individual style.

For example, if your wedding has a strong theme, you can find a suit to match. A suit with an open shirt and loafers fits the bill for a casual wedding, while a well-tailored three-piece suit can often look more formal than a tux.

If you’re unsure, why not try out a few tuxedos and suits for size and see which you prefer?
Groom and his dog in suits

The Difference Between a Suit and Tux: Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Suit or Tuxedo More Formal?

A tuxedo is, without a doubt, the more formal option. While a suit can be worn for almost any occasion, a tuxedo is strictly reserved for formal occasions with a formal dress code.

Can a Black Suit Be Worn as a Tuxedo?

There are specific features that make a tux a tux. Therefore, you cannot substitute a black suit for a traditional tuxedo. However, a black suit is a suitable alternative to a tux if you wear a necktie – not a black bow tie.

Is Tux More Expensive Than Suit?

Tuxedos are typically more expensive than suits because they are made from higher-quality materials like satin. However, where you buy your tux or suit makes a difference. For example, an off-the-rack tuxedo can cost much less than a custom-tailored suit.

Is It OK To Wear a Tuxedo to a Wedding?

A tux is traditionally a form of evening wear. Therefore, a tux is perfectly acceptable if the wedding occurs at this time. Pay attention to the dress code on the invite. “Black Tie” means a tux will be expected. 

What Are Inappropriate Times To Wear a Tuxedo?

Since the tux is an outfit for evening events, wearing it before 6 pm is generally unacceptable. Most black tie events, therefore, take place after this time. There are exceptions, though. For example, many grooms and groomsmen may opt for the tux no matter when the wedding is held.

Final Thoughts About the Difference Between a Suit and a Tux

Now that you understand the difference between a tuxedo and a suit, you can decide what to wear better. And it’ll make choosing the perfect outfit for your wedding easier.

A suit and a tux are classic choices; either option is bound to make you look and feel your best for the most important day of your life.

How’s your wedding planning going? Need a nudge in the right direction? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered over at The Groom Club. From the proposal to “I do,” we have all the tips and hacks required to make your wedding the success it was always meant to be.

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