Tuxedo Shirt Styles : The ULTIMATE Guide
Tuxedo Shirt Styles : The ULTIMATE Guide

 

There are many tuxedo shirt styles out there.

 

But knowing which one suits you is not always easy.

 

Luckily, one man has donned them all: James Bond.

 

Since 1962, he has worn a tux to most of his outings.

But given the almost 60-year period, it is inevitable that he has experimented with his style.

 

This tuxedo shirt guide will cover the five main types of tuxedo shirt styles, how you should wear them, and which one best fits your style (all while being illustrated by Mr Bond).

 

Tuxedo Shirt Guide Fast Track

 


#1 – The Marcella (Piqué) Bibbed Tuxedo Shirt Style

The piqué bibbed shirt is the simplest of the tuxedo shirt styles, but should not be overlooked.

 

The marcella tuxedo shirt style in Tomorrow Never Dies.
The marcella tuxedo shirt style at the CMGN launch party in Tomorrow Never Dies.

 

From a casual glance, it appears like a regular white shirt.

 

And, if it weren’t for the bib, a second piece of fabric sewn onto the parts of the shirt, it would be.

For reference, the bib overlap occurs on the collar, a part of the torso, and the cuffs: all the places that show from under the jacket

 

The bib is usually of a more brilliant white than a normal shirt, and is woven with a marcella (or piqué) weave, which has a ‘golf ball’ like texture.

 

Marcella pique weave.
A TMLewin graphic demonstrating the marcella weave.

 

But those who get close enough will definitely notice the fine details.

 

It does not command attention, or drown out the rest of your outfit, but gives precedence to your tuxedo, and allows your accessories to shine.

For this reason, is the most basic proper tuxedo shirt style.

 

Should I Wear the Pique Bib Tuxedo Shirt Style?

Yes – every style personality can pull the pique bib tuxedo shirt off, as it is the easiest to wear and ‘entry level’ tuxedo shirt style.

  • If you have preference for simpler outfits, like a simple black tuxedo, it won’t complicate the outfit (but is still a proper tuxedo shirt).
  • Or, if you have preference for louder ensembles, like a ecru dinner jacket, it will give it the limelight it deserves.

 

 

#2 – The Pleated Tuxedo Shirt Style

The pleated tuxedo shirt is a more intentional alternative compared to the marcella style, but has the same level of formality.

 

Sean Connery in Dr No wearing the pleated tuxedo shirt style.
Sean Connery in Dr No wearing a pleated tuxedo shirt.

 

The front of this style also features a bib.

In this case though, excess fabric has been repeatedly folded in on itself to create multiple pleats either side of the placket.

 

Visible from afar, the pleats add visual depth.

 

However, depending on the width, they will not drown out the rest of your outfit, and make for a classic look.

This is especially true if you opt in for a hidden placket (discussed later), which allows you to forgo the visual element of studs.

 

Pleat Width

Although preferred styles through the years do fluctuate, it is currently most common for pleat widths to be narrow.

You can find shirts with thicker individual pleats, such as the shirt Pierce Brosnan wore in 1995’s Goldeneye.

 

Goldeneye's thicker pleated tuxedo shirt.
Pierce Brosnan wears slightly thicker pleats in Goldeneye.

 

Should I Wear the Pleated Tuxedo Shirt Style?

Yes – again, every style personality can pull the pleated tuxedo shirt off.

It is slightly ‘fancier’ than a pique bib, but remains classic and timeless.

  • If you have preference for simpler outfits, it again won’t complicate the outfit, but will simply add slight decoration.
  • It is still appropriate if you have preference for louder ensembles. However, depending on the width and if it features studs or not, you could be bringing in too many visual elements.

 

 

#3 – The Ruffled Tuxedo Shirt Style

This is the least common tuxedo shirt style.

With only one appearance in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the ruffled tuxedo shirt is easily the most daring (and groovy, baby) of the bunch.

It is identified by its distinctive three-dimensional folded fabric, which creates a floral like pattern.

 

George Lazenby wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt in OHMSS.
George Lazenby wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt in OHMSS.

 

A problem with this is that you can risk looking busy, as it attracts attention from its uncommon nature and increased visuals.

 

Therefore, you would probably want to avoid wearing it in combination with a loud tuxedo or dinner jacket.

 

Furthermore, due to the more casual nature of this style, it should not be worn to extremely formal black-tie events.

Another problem is that it is very difficult to find a shirt of this style for sale anywhere. This is because it is currently ‘out of fashion’, and hasn’t really been in since the late 60s and early 70s, 50 years ago.

 

Should I Wear the Ruffled Tuxedo Shirt Style?

Maybe.

  • If you prefer simple outfits, you should avoid this tuxedo shirt style.
  • However, if you’re comfortable with wearing louder outfits, then 100% give it a go – but perhaps tone it down in the rest of your ensemble, to not ‘overdo’ it.

 

 

#4 – Covered Placket Variations

Each of the aforementioned tuxedo shirt styles come in two variations, with a standard placket, or with a covered placket.

 

Daniel Craig with a covered placket in Casino Royale.
Daniel Craig with a covered placket in Casino Royale.

 

If your shirt has a covered packet (pictured above), there will be a piece of fabric that runs over the placket, hiding the shirt buttons.

 

Should I Wear a Tuxedo Shirt With a Hidden Placket?

Maybe.

It’s a good option for when you don’t own, or do not want to wear, tuxedo studs, which are ‘required’ when your shirt has a non-covered placket.

On top of this, if you are wearing something that draws attention, like a velvet dinner jacket, or a ruffled tuxedo shirt, you may want to tone all other aspects down, including not wearing studs, which can only be properly done with a hidden placket.

 

 

#5 – The ‘Plain’ Tuxedo Shirt Style

This is a category that many people think exists, but doesn’t.

A ‘plain’ tuxedo shirt is simply just a regular dress shirt that is appropriate to wear with a suit.

Even though, at most events, it would be fine wearing a French cuffed dress shirt in place of a proper tuxedo shirt, I would highly recommend buying a specific black-tie shirt.

If you have gone to the effort of buying a tuxedo, you might as well go all the way to complete the look.

 

It shows you care, and have put in the effort.

 

Having a designated black-tie shirt enhances the suave aura you will radiate, and sends the message to others that you are a select man.

 

Should I Wear a ‘Plain’ Tuxedo Shirt?

No.

 

 


Tuxedo Shirt Rules

Regardless of the style of tuxedo shirt you choose, the shirt you wear should always feature the following elements:

 

Spread Collar

I am not a fan of the winged collar with a tuxedo, and neither is Mr Bond. You should reserve this for white tie.

 

Instead, you should opt for a spread collar.

 

Sean Connery with a spread collar.
This spread collar creates a flattering look, as it doesn’t extend further than needed.

 

Ideally, you should aim for the points of your collar to end higher than the bottom of the bow tie, as is pictured above.

 

This creates a flattering look, and gives absolute precedence to your bow tie.

 

Although it can look fine if this rule isn’t followed, it helps secure an awesome look.

The spread collar is usually the best option: a cutaway collar will expose the band of your bow tie, and a classic point collar will extend too far below (as is seen below).

 

Daniel Craig's pointed collar in No Time to Die.
Daniel Craig’s collar is too pointed, and comes down past the bow tie.

 

French Cuffs

A French, or double, cuff is when cuff fabric is folded over on itself to create a double layer sleeve ending, which can be fastened by cufflinks.

 

French cuffs are more formal than button cuffs.

 

As black tie is a very formal dress code, you should absolutely make sure your shirt includes them.

 

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale wearing French cuffs.
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale wearing a tuxedo shirt with French cuffs.

 

You should also attempt to coordinate your cufflinks with the rest of the metals you are wearing.

In this instance, Craig is wearing silver cufflinks with a silver Omega Seamaster 300m.

 

Button Covering (Or Replacement)

The normal plastic buttons on your tuxedo shirt should not be shown, as it lowers the formality of your outfit and disobeys the rules of black tie.

To avoid this, you have two choices:

  1. You can opt to buy a tuxedo shirt with a hidden packet, as discussed earlier. This removes the problem entirely.
  2. Alternately, you can go with my preferred option, studs.

 

Quantum of Solace Tuxedo shirt stylewith a spread collar.
Pleated Quantum of Solace tuxedo shirt with a hidden placket and French cuffs.

 

Taking their place as the top four buttons of your tuxedo shirt, studs make you sartorially stand out as the best dressed man in the room, and complete your outfit.

There are many different stud designs out there. The most common type are full metal studs, or metal studs that enclose a precious element such as the Nautilus Shell derived Mother of Pearl.

 

Mother of pearl studs for all tuxedo shirt styles.
Mother of pearl studs.

 

I would strongly recommend trying to find a good set of studs that matches with your black tie metal colour.

 

Killer Fit

Like with everything you wear, your tuxedo shirt should fit properly.

A slither of shirt cuff should show under your jacket sleeve, and it should loosely hug your body, allowing enough room for comfortable movement.

 

Cotton Fabric

Your tuxedo shirt should be made from cotton.

I have seen shirts being made of sateen before, a synthetic and fibre with a sheen.

However I feel they look inappropriately shiny, and cheapen your look.

 


Which Tuxedo Shirt to Wear for Your Style

In summary:

 

For classic looksFor statement looks

Conclusion – Tuxedo Shirt Guide

So, now you have all of the information that you need to know about tuxedo shirt styles, and what you should look for when buying a shirt for your event.

Use it to your advantage, and make sure that you look like James Bond when you rock black tie.

 

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