Tuxedo Evening Shirt Styles
In our main dress shirt guide, we discuss colour, collars, and cuffs in detail. If you haven’t yet read it, this resource may be useful in understanding the basics of their formality.
From a high level, traditional tuxedo shirts are white and should usually feature double or French cuffs. However, there are two collar styles to choose from, which consist of either the traditional wing collar and a soft turndown or “spread” collar.
Tuxedo Shirt Collar Types
Traditionally, a shirt with a turndown collar may have a pleated bib to make it formal enough to wear with a tuxedo. Otherwise it would be best described as a white French cuff dress shirt. However, it has become quite common to just have a covered placket that hides the buttons or studs instead.
Below are a few visual examples of typical tuxedo shirt collars to give you a better idea.
Wing Collar Evening Shirt
The wing collar is the more traditional evening shirt for formal black tie wear. You should also note that the bow tie should be place to sit in front of the wings rather than them resting on top of the bow tie.
Additionally, the bow tie’s band is visible here so if you are wearing a clip-on, it may be noticed! Therefore, we recommend learning to tie one yourself. It may look complicated and fiddly at first but, trust us, it’s very easy once you get it.
Spread Or Turndown Collar Tuxedo Shirt
Introduced by the Duke of Windsor in the first half of the twentieth century, it was his response to the stuffiness of dinner clothes, which he hated. It allows the wearer to feel a bit more natural and comfortable, which will always equal greater style.
Spread collar shirts have become much more common in the 21st Century. While purists will argue that they require a bib or pleated front to underline the shirt’s formality, this is becoming less of an obligation.
Eton Evening Shirt Collar [Left] vs. Dress Collar Shirt [Right]
All of the recommended brands above produce spread collar evening shirts due to their growing popularity. In fact, it’s becoming harder to find wing collar evenings shirts these days!
Correct Cuffs For Tuxedo Evening Shirts
While you may see the occasional barrel cuff at proms, the only appropriate style for tuxedo shirts is a French cuff. A barrel cuff is too casual and the elusive single cuff shirt is reserved for white tie occasions only.
However, there are different styles of French cuff. For instance, it may be the standard square shape, angled at the corner, rounded, or cutaway. Some of these options will only be available on custom shirts. Nevertheless, we’ve listed all the different cuff styles available from the brands lsited above.
On a side note, some of the custom clothiers above will offer to monogram your shirt. This is fine but we suggest using a white or ivory colour to ensure that it remains a subtle detail.
Tuxedo Evening Shirt Fronts
Wing collar shirts take plain fronts, whereas spread collar tuxedo shirts would traditionally require some sort of bib. Typically this is a vertical pleat like you see in the graphic above. However, a simple placket band to cover the buttons has become acceptable and quite popular nowadays.
Of course, you can opt for pleated and bib fronts, which are available through higher-end makers like those listed above.
Can You Wear A Black Tuxedo Shirt?
Though it’s somewhat rare, it’s theoretically acceptable to change the colour of your tuxedo shirt if you keep everything else standard.
Throwing too many different colours into the mix or doing things like matching your bow tie to your shirt are overkill with a tux and dilute its formality. After all, it’s traditionally regarded as a uniform.
Below, we offer pros and cons of different colour tuxedo shirts.
White Evening Shirts: Benefits & Drawbacks
- Pros: Traditional, correct for any black tie event, easy to find when shopping.
- Cons: Dirties easily, not great for eccentric men who might prefer something else.
Black Tuxedo Shirts: Benefits & Drawbacks
- Pros: Perfect for a monochromatic look, fashion forward, sleek
- Cons: Non-traditional, too “Hollywood” for many black tie events
Other Potential Tuxedo Shirt Colours
Although you’re getting away from traditional black tie and into creative black tie, it can technically be appropriate to wear a different colour tuxedo shirt. Our suggestion is to avoid light or pastel colours as these may seem too reminiscent of prom night in all the wrong ways.
We also generally advise caution in wearing different colours. As mentioned above, black tie is a traditional dress code and is often regarded as a uniform. If you’re heading to a conservative event, it’s important to ask yourself whether it would be appropriate.
Similarly, you must make sure that the shirt is designed for evening wear. If you just sport a regular dress shirt in a different colour with your tuxedo, you may notice that it doesn’t quite look right.
Purple Tuxedo Shirt
In a dark plum color, a purple tuxedo shirt can be a sartorially smart choice. If you’re going to be so daring, we advise the following:
- Select a turndown collar as opposed to a wing collar.
- Wear this to creative black tie events unless you’re 100% sure that you can get away with it at a regular black tie soirée.
In general, if you’re going to wear a non-white tuxedo shirt, we suggest that they take turndown collars and pleated bibs, as you see below:
How To Wear A Tuxedo Shirt
We’ll now break down how to properly wear and evening shirt with a tuxedo as there are a few pointers worth keeping in mind.
Of course, evening shirts should only really be worn with a tuxedo. Wearing a tux shirt with a regular suit or anything less formal will simply look a little strange. As the shirt is very formal, it would look out of place in any other context.
Furthermore, a tuxedo shirt features French cuffs as we highlighted above. Therefore, you’ll need to wear them with silk knots or cufflinks. Generally, we recommend opting for onyx and silver metals. This ensures that your look remains subtle and elegant.
You will also note that the figure above is wearing white braces. Traditionally, tuxedos trousers don’t have belt loops and shouldn’t be worn with them. Instead, the trousers have fasteners on the sides to tighten them or they’re worn with braces if necessary.
Overall, we suggest white braces like James Bond does in Casino Royale. However, as long as you’re not wearing a cummerbund, you could always choose a solid colour instead as long as the tabs and yoke are black leather. Also, try to refrain from clip-on braces where possible!
Finally, your tuxedo shirt should fit exactly as your normal dress shirts do. If you don’t know how a shirt is supposed to look, see our guide to shirt fit.
What Are Tuxedo Shirt Studs & How To Fasten Them?
Many tuxedo shirts will come with just button holes and no buttons. This is a defining factor of the evening shirt and is made to accommodate studs. In other cases, the buttons are covered by a strip of cotton that is sewed to the placket.
Some evenings shirts may come with studs that are either sewed in or can be removed. If not, you may have to buy some yourself. Most of the shirtmakers listed above sell them anyway or you can simply head to The Tie Bar to pick some up.
Shirt studs also come in a variety of styles. Traditionally, they should be silver metal with an onyx stone in the centre. However, you can also find some that are mother of pearl or similar. Needless to say, your choice in metal and stone changes their cost.
Fastening collar studs is not dissimilar to cufflinks. The button side of the shirt will have small pockets into which you slip the studs. Once you’ve added all the studs, you can then button up the shirt like a normal one.
Studs Or Buttons With A Tuxedo Shirt?
Some evening shirts will have buttons but these are usually covered with a length of cotton over the placket. This adds the convenience of regular buttons but retains the cleanliness of evening wear. For those who don’t like the added jewellery and necessary accessories of shirt studs, they may prefer this style.
However, normal shirt buttons shouldn’t traditionally be seen when wearing black tie. This is the same reasons that the tuxedo’s seams are covered with satin or the pockets are hidden with grosgrain. Basically, a tuxedo is meant to be a sleek and streamlined outfit.
Therefore, in most cases, you should try to avoid wearing a shirt that has visible buttons with black tie. Of course, you may run into an emergency and may not have time to buy an evening shirt for the occasion. As a result, we put together the following section to help you out.
Can I Wear My Shirt With A Tuxedo?
If you haven’t yet bought a tuxedo shirt, you may be asking yourself whether you can get away with wearing one that you already own. In most cases, we would say that it’s best to buy an evening shirt. However, we realise that this isn’t always possible due to time or budget restrictions.
Therefore, we’ll break down the possible shirts in your wardrobe and tell you whether you can get away with it in a pinch:
- Non-White Shirt: Sorry, but unless it’s a dress shirt, coloured shirts are best avoided.
- French Cuffs, Classic Spread Collar, Poplin Weave: If you’re stuck and it’s a nice, clean, white shirt, this should be okay.
- French Cuffs, Classic Spread Collar, Twill Weave: If you have a twill weave shirt, this would be a better option as it distracts from the buttons.
- Double Cuffs, Cutaway Collar: Best avoided as these are made for Windsor tie knots and not bow ties.
- Double Cuffs, Point Collar: Sadly, the point collar is regarded as quite casual and would likely twist the bow tie.
- White Dress Shirt, Barrel Cuffs, Any Collar: Unfortunately, barrel cuffs are much too casual with evening wear.
Again, we highly recommend that you buy an evening shirt if you have the means and the time. However, if it’s an emergency, you could just get away with it on this occasion.
If you have a white dress shirt with French cuffs, make sure that it has a classic spread collar. Ideally, a twill weave will add some visual interest to the fabric and distract from the presence of buttons.
Finally, make sure that the shirt is clean, in good condition, and crisply ironed. Should the shirt have even the faintest stain or be slightly used, it will undermine your sneaky attempt to get away with wearing a regular shirt!
Parting Thoughts & More Reading
Whether off the rack or custom, an evening shirt should fit perfectly and have the necessary aesthetic details to separate it from the average dress shirt. It’s our hope that the information above is helpful to you as you find and wear one of your own.
Now that you understand the ins and outs of tuxedo shirts, take a look at the other pages in our tuxedo series: