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:

Alternatively, scroll down to read it all.

Different Color Cummerbunds

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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:

  1. Hawes & Curtis
  2. Turnbull & Asser
  3. Charles Tyrwhitt
  4. Eton Shirts
  5. The Tie Bar

Feel free to use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all!

1. Hawes & Curtis [Best Value For Money]

Hawes & Curtis Cummerbunds
  • Colours: Black, Burgundy, Midnight
  • Material: 100% Silk
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Size: One-Size
  • Pricing: $40 – $50 [Buy On Hawes & Curtis]
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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.

2. Turnbull & Asser [Premium Cummerbund]

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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.

3. Charles Tyrwhitt [Value Jermyn Street Brand]

Charles Tyrwhitt Cummerbund
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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.

4. Eton Shirts [Swedish Heritage Brand]

Eton Shirts Cummerbund
  • Colours: Black
  • Material: 100% Silk
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Size: S, M, L
  • Pricing: $205 [Buy On Eton Shirts]
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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.

5. The Tie Bar [Most Affordable Cummerbund]

The Tie Bar Cummerbund
  • Colours: Black
  • Material: 100% Silk
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Size: One-Size
  • Pricing: $25 [Buy On The Tie Bar]
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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?

Black-Tie-Cummerbunds

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.”

Cummerbund Material

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.

Cummerbunds-Incorrect

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:

Cummerbunds-Correct

Should I Wear A Cummerbund Or Vest?

Cummerbund-Vs-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?

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:

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