Prom Tuxedo Guide

Proms are wonderful things.  They are often a young man and woman’s first exposure to a formal evening.  They mark a rite of passage from youth to adulthood.  They’re fun, flexible, and they can generate the kind of good memories that will last a whole lifetime.  But for many, proms can also be a little difficult to navigate.

Proms are unique among other formal events in terms of protocol, so there are always a lot of questions surrounding them.   That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive Prom Guide.  This guide will provide guidance to any soon-to-be-tuxedo-clad-prom-bound wayfarers out there that could use a little help.


What’s the difference between a prom tuxedo and a prom suit?

Prom Tuxedo or Prom Suit: What's the Difference?
The primary physical difference between a tuxedo and a suit is the presence of satin.  Typically tuxedos have satin facing on the lapels, buttons, pocket trim, and a satin side stripe down the leg of the trousers.  Suits don’t incorporate any satin and usually have either plastic buttons or buttons faced with the same fabric as the coat (aka self buttons.)

As for the difference between “Prom Tuxedos” and “Prom Suits”, as opposed to regular tuxedos and suits, the difference has to do with the message you send.

A prom marks the beginning of a young man’s journey into adulthood and all of the freedom, responsibility, risks, uncertainties, and opportunities that come along with it.  As such, his life lesson is rooted in taking care of himself and making his mark on the world, at the same time celebrating the boyhood he’s leaving behind.  He should be well groomed and dressed in a tuxedo, but one that reflects his personality and has some boyish flair.  That’s why prom’s are so flexible.  Everything from classic black tie to bright colors and contemporary styling are completely appropriate.

Do my accessories have to match my date’s prom dress?

Black Tie or Matching Accessories?
There is usually only one right answer to this question.  The problem is, only one person knows that answer: your date.  But if she doesn’t have an opinion either way, here’s some fodder for your case, whichever way you’re leaning.

To Go Matching:
The current trend of matching your date’s prom dress is a fairly modern one and it serves as a way for a couple to look and feel like a matching set.   The sentiment is visually and emotionally appealing to most prom couples.  And it’s also a way for your date to claim you as hers.  And that’s not a bad thing.  But because of that, one thing you definitely want to avoid is going with a colorful vest/cummerbund and tie combo that is a different color from your date’s.  That could send the message that you’re with someone else, and that’s bad for obvious reasons.  So your best other option is to go Black Tie.

To Go Black Tie:
Traditionally speaking, men wear black and white formal wear for the aesthetic stark contrast, and so the women they are with can stand out in vibrant colors and receive the highest accolades and attention.  A black tie tuxedo is a way of looking great and masculine, but at the same time stepping out of the spotlight so that the girl you’re with can really shine.  Formal wear is all about accentuating your best features, and in this context, your best feature is her.  It’s actually really chivalrous.  Not to mention timeless.

Should I get her a corsage?

Yes.  This isn’t really a tuxedo question, but we get it a lot, so for the record: Yes.  You should get your date a corsage.  Exceptions include steadfast knowledge that your date is allergic to every kind of flower and/or undeniable knowledge that your date hates corsages.  Unless these are the case, go ahead and get her a nice wrist corsage.  And be sure to specify a “wrist” corsage.  It will help you avoid any awkward moments as you try to pin the thing to her dress without stabbing your date.

Bow Tie or Long Tie?

Bow Tie or Long Tie?
Again, this is subjective, based on your tastes.  But there’s some things you should weigh out here.

Long Ties:
These are often the favorite for Proms, since they feel formal but not too formal – much like a prom is a formal event, but not too formal.  A good thing about wearing a long tie is that many formal affairs you’ll attend in life will require a bow tie.  Prom is a good chance to mix that up a little.  The downside is that it makes your tuxedo look more like a suit.  Also, it bisects the white “V” that is made by the shirt when the coat is closed.  That “V” is important because it emphasizes broad shoulders and a narrow waist, for your most masculine look.

Bow Ties:
From a sartorial standpoint, these are always going to be your best look.  The bow tie preserves the white “V” and draws attention to your face, instead of your naval.  It’s also more traditional.  And you can still splash some fun into your outfit with basically ever color and pattern known to man.  We like them both, especially for proms, but if we had to pick either a bow or a long tie, we would opt for a bow tie.