Once an obligatory accessory to the tuxedo, the cummerbund is often overlooked and even forgotten entirely today. However, we believe that it’s still an integral part of the black tie dress code.
In this guide, which is part of our tuxedo series you will learn everything there is to know about cummerbunds. From how to wear one and the best brands on the market, use the following links to explore your options:
- What Is A Cummerbund?
- When & How To Wear A Cummerbund
- Cummerbund Coordination
- Cummerbund Vs Waistcoat
- Conclusion: Other Tuxedo Resources
Alternatively, scroll down to read it all.
More Accessory Guides
Dress Code Guides
Top 5 Best Cummerbunds To Buy Online
In this guide, you will learn all about cummerbunds. To give you a better idea of what’s currently on the market, we’ve assembled the best cummerbunds that you can buy online:
Feel free to use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all!
- Colours: Black, Wine
- Material: 100% Silk
- Adjustable: Yes
- Size: One-Size
- Pricing: $69 [Buy On Charles Tyrwhitt]
Charles Tyrwhitt is another well-known Jermyn Street brand, which is renowned for providing excellent value for money. We’re particularly fond of their luxurious cummerbunds, which are available in wine red or black.
Like the above options, they’re made from silk and are adjustable to your size.
- Colours: Black, Burgundy, Midnight
- Material: 100% Silk
- Adjustable: Yes
- Size: One-Size
- Pricing: $50 [Buy On Hawes & Curtis]
Hawes & Curtis is a British heritage brand that continues to operate from its Jermyn Street flagship store in London. We’re pretty fond of their modest selection of cummerbunds, which are all made from 100% silk.
Available in midnight blue, burgundy or even black, there’s something for any colour palette. Additionally, they’re all one-size and adjustable up to a 42″ waist.
- Colours: Black
- Material: 100% Silk
- Adjustable: Yes
- Size: One-Size
- Pricing: $205 [Buy On Turnbull & Asser]
Turnbull & Asser is one of the few heritage Jermyn Street brands that continues to retail products that are made in England. Indeed, their cummerbunds come from Gloucester, which is why they’re at a premium.
Nevertheless, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more exquisite specimen with its rich Barathea weave and lustrous silk material.
While perhaps not as well-known as some Jermyn Street brands, Eton has been operating since the early 20th Century and continues to produce luxurious shirts. Unlike most other cummerbunds, theirs come in several sizes.
These are all adjustable too. For instance, small is for 31-35”, medium corresponds to 35-39”, and large fits 39-43” waists.
If you’re looking for a cheap yet reliable cummerbund, The Tie Bar is a great port of call. We’re very fond of The Tie Bar and their affordable accessories. Their website is also very well-made and allows you to easily put together coordinated garments and accessories.
What Is A Cummerbund?
So, what exactly is a cummerbund? It’s a pleated waist sash worn with single-breasted tuxedo jackets. Traditionally black, they are also available in other colors, most notably burgundy, bottle green, rich gold, and even white. They are widest around the front and were adopted as a warm-weather alternative to the black tie waistcoat.
The garment has its roots in Asia. Indian men traditionally wore them, and the British adopted it while India was under colonial rule. Etymologically, the word is a corruption/cognate of the Urdu/Persian word kamarband, with kamar meaning “loins” and band meaning “sash.” In Hindi, the word is cummerband.
We can certainly all agree that “cummerbund” has a nicer ring to it than “loinsash.”
Note that in modern Persian, the word kamarband refers to anything belt-like. This is most often an actual belt, but can also refer to a safety belt or a road that encircles a city, such as Washington D.C.’s Beltway.
Why Wear A Cummerbund?
When wearing a tuxedo, an immaculate presentation and attention to detail are of the utmost importance. A cummerbund acts as a waist covering, preventing your shirt from peeking out below the buttoning point of your jacket. This means that the only part of the shirt visible is above your chest, forming a powerful V-shape that makes you look stronger and more masculine. Having white popping out below would be distracting to say the least.
Cummerbund Or Cumberbund: How It Is Spelled?
There is a lot of confusion as to the spelling of this word. This is understandable as it’s an Anglicized Persian word, but make no mistake, it’s spelled “cummerbund,” not “cumberbund,” or “cummerbun.”
Traditionally, cummerbunds are made of silk. Cheaper models at discount stores will often be made of synthetic material such as polyester, and these should be avoided unless you’re on an extreme budget.
When & How To Wear A Cummerbund
Wearing a cummerbund isn’t obligatory, but if you’re going to wear a tuxedo and forgo the waistcoat, we strongly encourage you to wear a cummerbund. This is particularly true in warm weather, when even a backless waistcoat may be impractical.
Do You Have To Wear A Cummerbund With A Tux?
In a word, no. In lieu of a cummerbund, you may wear either a waistcoat or, if you’re going for a more contemporary look, no waist covering at all. If you opt to omit a waist covering, ensure that your tuxedo trousers’ waist is high enough to avoid any shirt showing underneath the button.
Cummerbund Pleats: Up Or Down?
Most (but not all) cummerbunds have pleats. Once upon a time, these pleats were functional, serving as pockets with which to hold ticket stubs and other night-at-the-opera sorts of things. As such, if your cummerbund has pleats, it is only correct to wear them facing up.
Colloquially, a cummerbund was known as a “crumb-catcher,” as upward-facing pleats offered the wearer this fringe benefit.
Should A Cummerbund Match My Tie, Jacket, Or Something Else?
Traditionally, cummerbunds are black and thus match the bow tie, jacket, and trousers all at once. As time has gone on, it has become more common to inject other colors into the black tie ensemble, so it’s totally appropriate to wear a cummerbund in a deep tone such as burgundy, plum, bottle green, or dark blue. Patterned cummerbunds exist as well and are appropriate to wear, so if you happen to find one that strikes you, by all means snatch it up.
In the event that you choose to wear a cummerbund in such a color or pattern, do not wear a matching bow tie, but rather the standard black one. Throwing too much color into a tuxedo compromises its integrity as a semi-formal outfit, and the look is decidedly pre-packaged and a bit clownish.
When people use the term “monkey suit,” this is the look they have in mind. Below, we see a couple of examples of how cummerbunds can be worn incorrectly. At left, we have a matching cummerbund and bow tie set, and at right we have a cummerbund that was intended to match its jacket.
Instead of emulating what you see above, take a look at the graphic below. At left is the classic black cummerbund with black bow tie, and at right is a contrasting cummerbund that doesn’t attempt to match the jacket with which it’s been paired:
Should I Wear A Cummerbund Or Vest?
The choice of wearing a cummerbund or vest is up to you. It’s a matter of personal preference and comfort, as a waistcoat will work better in colder months while a cummerbund is the preferred option in spring and summer.
Aesthetically, though, it’s good to look to your lapels. A tuxedo jacket takes either peaked lapels or a shawl collar. The curve of a cummerbund syncs well with a shawl collar, while the points of a waistcoat coordinate wonderfully with those of a peaked lapel. While coordinating these items on this basis isn’t necessary, it’s a smart design element to consider.
Can You Wear A Cummerbund With Braces?
Indeed you can. In fact, you can wear braces with a waistcoat as well. You may also forgo braces entirely, but only do this if your trousers fit exceptionally well and / or have side adjuster tabs to help keep them where they belong. Further, you can make that decision based on your body type, as some men look better in braces than others.
Conclusion & Other Tuxedo Resources
A cummerbund isn’t necessary for a black tie ensemble, but it’s certainly a dapper way to cover the waist when wearing your tux.
For more tuxedo information, take a look at the resources at your disposal:
Very helpful and insightful! Thank you so much!
You’re very welcome! Thanks for your kind comment!
Thank you for your insight on Tux shirts I wear a tux shirt at least six times a month. Have many types. The one shirt you did not mention was the no collar tux shirt.
Do you mean a tunic shirt for stiff collars or a Mandarin collar?
I read that the cummerbund is designed to get rid of the sharp V that’s formed by the jacket. And to that end, the cummerbund should match the color of the pant (if you’re wearing traditional black tie, no colored cummerbund).
Is that the case? Should the cummerbund first and foremost match the pant? And if so, does it matter too much if the cummerbund does not match the bow tie exactly?
There’s the school of thought that the cummerbund should be the same colour as the trousers. Meanwhile, there’s the more modern approach in having one with a pop of colour. Ideally, it should match the bow tie but it’s no big deal if it doesn’t.
These days, you’re quite free to do as you like as long as you believe that it’s tasteful!
All the best,
There’s a difference of opinion from the “experts” regarding wearing braces with cummerbund. I prefer braces and they don’t’ show with the jacket on. That’s what I’m going to do. Experts also differ on cummerbund color and tie combination. I’m taking the safe route and wearing all black. Tuxedos in public are so elegant (and rare) you can’t really go too wrong wearing any combination.
Absolutely, you’re right that it’s a rarity these days and it’s hard to really make mistakes when wearing black tie! Sure, a lot of people (experts or otherwise) differ on the so-called “correct” way of wearing formalwear. I guess that’s one of things that make the topic so fascinating!
thanks for information. #bespokesuit
Glad to be of service, Ammar!
I have a question about matching bow tie with a cummerbund. I have a dark navy tuxedo which has peaked black lapels and plan to wear an ivory coloured bow tie. Can I pair this with a black cummerbund?
Look forward to your advice.
A navy and black combination might be a tad difficult to pull off as they’re very similar and tend not to go all that well. However, it might be doable. If you already have the garments, try them out in the mirror and see if it works!
Thanks for your response.
Apologies if I wasn’t clear earlier but I specifically wanted to know if it’s acceptable to wear a cream bow tie with a black cummerbund?
Look forward to your response.
If the tuxedo is black, then I’d say that it’s absolutely fine to have a black cummerbund and ivory bow tie. However, if you have a black cummerbund and dark navy tux, the it might be a little difficult.
I have a Midnight Blue Tuxedo (custom made for me by Jos. A . Bank) that has black lapels. So wearing a black bow tie and cummerbund is automatically the first choice. For the record I also have two more custom tuxedos from Bank. One I sth traditional black and the newest one is my burgundy tux. Both are with black lapels so again, black bow and cummerbund. By the way, all of these look smashingly spectacular an dI have been complemented many times. Next up: a gray tux coming sometime this summer as I can afford it.
Sounds like a beautiful collection indeed!
Should cummerbund and suspenders match? Thinking particularly if cummerbund has a pattern
Not necessarily. Cummerbunds are typically worn with tuxedos, which are traditionally black, and a white shirt. Consequently, the braces themselves should normally be either black or white.
Hi. Thanks for these pointers. I’m scheduled for a tropical wedding and will be wearing white linen but would still like the tux “look’ and want to incorporate bowtie, suspenders, cumberbund, if appropriate. Was thinking of light blue for a splash of tropical color and since everything white seemed, well, too white. If this resonates with you, would you color the bowtie, cumberbund, suspenders? If yes, identically? It seems not, according to what you wrote….
I love the ideal of light blue to accompany the white linen suit! I think that will capture the ambiance perfectly!
Otherwise, similar pastel colours like salmon or lilac might work too. That said, I think light blue would be your best bet.
On this occasion, I would say that using identical colours for the bow tie and cummerbund would be fan as it’s a contemporary look and it’ll offset the use of white. However, I would opt for white suspenders to avoid it being too overbearing.
All the best,
I have a dark blue patterned tux, planning on wearing a white shirt and black bow tie, would a black cummerbund look ok with this or no?
I’d personally prefer a dark blue cummerbund but black is absolutely fine too!
How do you feel about a black cumberbund paired with a non-black bow tie, Military Branch colors, for a Military Ball?
We’d usually recommend switching up the color of the cummerbund before that of the bow tie. But if it’s a themed even where guests are expected to display colorful bow ties then the best options would likely be a black cummerbund with the non-traditional tie.
I will be wearing a blue velvet suit with black lapels, white dress shirt, black cummerbund and bow tie, and black trousers to a gala dinner.
Would it be appropriate to wear black velvet shoes with this attire?
Thanks for your help!
I think that’s fine. If you’re feeling a little daring, I think that blue velvet shoes that match the jacket would look even better, though!
I am attending a red tie charity event. Is it appropriate to wear a red tie with a black cummerbund?
Thanks for checking out our guide. As we covered briefly above, wearing a black cummerbund with a red tie would be most appropriate.
The word is “CUMMERBUND”. There’s only one “b” in the word. You variously spell it a “cummerbund” and a “cumBerbund” on this site. Thanks.
We used both spellings to attract the attention of people who spelled it wrong when searching online but we do have a section in the article that highlights the correct spelling.