When it comes to black tie functions and formal evening events, the dinner jacket is man’s best friend. Sophisticated and stylish yet also simple to wear, this go-to jacket is one item every gent should have hanging in his wardrobe. Whether it’s a wedding or a ball, there will undoubtedly be occasions in your life when you need to don your dinner jacket, so it’s important to understand what it is and how to wear it. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Here is our guide on how to wear a men’s dinner jacket for a dapper look.
What is a Dinner Jacket?
A dinner jacket is a type of men’s jacket for formal occasions in the evening. Also known as a tuxedo jacket, the dinner jacket does not have tails. It is typically worn with a bow tie and features satin or grosgrain lapel facings.
Difference Between a Tuxedo and a Suit
Before dressing for formal events, it’s important to understand the difference between a tuxedo and a suit. Suits are less lavish than tuxedos, making them more ideal for daytime occasions, low key events, and business functions. Unlike a dinner jacket, a suit jacket typically features lapels made of the same material as the body of the garment. Likewise, suit trousers usually feature no embellishments while tuxedo trousers often have a strip on the outseam. Tuxedos can also be worn with bow ties, pleated shirts, and either a waistcoat or cummerbund while suits are more suited to standard neckties and shirts.
When to Wear a Dinner Jacket
The dinner jacket makes the perfect option for black tie events. For a classic look, select a black tuxedo and pair it with a black bow tie, a white formal Oxford shirt, black patent Oxfords, and a cummerbund or waistcoat.
Not just for black tie functions, the dinner jacket can also suit a variety of formal and semi-formal evening events. To wear a dinner jacket for a smart social gathering, you can consider swapping your matching tuxedo trousers for a different color, changing your bow tie to a standard tie (or losing it altogether), and foregoing a waistcoat or cummerbund.
The Dinner Jacket
Velvet Dinner Jacket
As dinner jackets are intended for the evening time, it can be ideal to choose one with a luxurious and decadent feel, such as a velvet design. Thanks to its unique texture, the velvet dinner jacket creates a charismatic appearance.
Cream Dinner Jacket
For a cool and classic look, a cream dinner jacket can make an excellent option. Thanks to its soft tone, a cream jacket will allow black accents, such as your trousers, bow tie, and shoes to pop.
White Dinner Jacket
Thanks to its light yet neutral hue, a white dinner jacket appears both sleek and bold. To don a white dinner jacket in a classically dapper kind of way, partner it with black tuxedo trousers, a black cummerbund, and a black bow tie. For a unique appearance, opt for white pants instead.
Blue Dinner Jacket
For gents who like to stand out, a blue dinner jacket makes an excellent option. Whether midnight blue, navy, cobalt or an icy hue, a blue dinner jacket can create a fashionable and sharp appearance. For a smart look, pair your blue dinner jacket with matching tuxedo trousers. For a more relaxed feel, consider black pants instead.
Patterned Dinner Jacket
For a modern take on the traditional dinner jacket, a patterned style can be worn. If you’re aiming for a subtle look, consider jacquard or brocade designs in classic colors. If you prefer a bolder appearance, you can try a check style or print, such as paisley.
Black Dinner Jacket
What to Wear with a Dinner Jacket
Before you can select what to wear with your dinner jacket, you must choose the jacket itself. For a dinner jacket, you can pick either a standard single-breasted style or a bolder double-breasted design. When it comes to lapels, you can choose between a peaked or shawl style.
A white formal shirt is an ideal companion to a tuxedo. For a traditional look, select a pleated or bib-front shirt with double or French cuffs. For a more contemporary aesthetic, you can choose a plain-front dress shirt. Also, don’t forget to consider the type of buttons and placket and whether studs are required.
Traditionally, tuxedo trousers should be high-waisted to sit correctly with a cummerbund or waistcoat. For a classic look, they should also match your jacket fabric. However, if there is a strip running down the outseam of your tuxedo trousers, as they’re often are, it should be of the same material as your jacket lapel.
When wearing a tuxedo to a black-tie event, a black bow tie is essential. If you wish to diversify your look, consider experimenting with the material and texture of your bow tie instead of the color.
When wearing a tuxedo or dinner jacket, black Oxford shoes are always appropriate. For particularly formal occasions, you can try a patent style, which will add a sophisticated shine to your look.
Waistcoat / Cummerbund
When donning a tuxedo, you can either choose to wear a waistcoat or a cummerbund to complete your look. While either is appropriate, you should note that if you select a cummerbund, the material should match that of your jacket lapel for a classic look.
How to Wear a Dinner Jacket
- Partner your dinner jacket with matching tuxedo trousers for black tie events.
- Choose either a plain front, pleated or bib front formal shirt.
- Add a bow tie.
- Wear a cummerbund or waistcoat for a traditional appearance.
- Select patent black Oxford shoes to complete your look.
Ideally, you should only have one button on your single-breasted dinner jacket; however, you can get away with two. If you’re wearing a two-button coat, the top button is always done up when standing; however, etiquette dictates you never fasten the bottom one.
When should you wear a white dinner jacket?
White dinner jackets are a great way to stand out from the crowd. However, it’s best suited to formal occasions that fall during the warm, summer months or that take place in a tropical location.
Do you wear a Cummerbund with a white dinner jacket?
You can wear a cummerbund with a white dinner jacket, so long as the jacket is only single-breasted. If you’re wearing black trousers, opt for a matching black cummerbund to tie the look together.
Do you wear a pocket square with a dinner jacket?
A pocket square is an optional accessory but can add some excellent detail. Ideally, you want to keep the pattern simple and choose a color that works with the rest of your outfit. When it doubt, off-white is generally the safest choice.
When should you wear a dinner jacket?
Dinner jackets are traditionally worn for black-tie events held in the evening.
Taylah Brewer holds a bachelor's degree in fashion and business and is a skilled writer with several years of experience in the world of online content creation and copywriting. She is passionate about fashion, beauty, and all things lifestyle-related and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2016. She currently works as the Head of Digital & Ecommerce at White & Co.
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