It's the Lapel- the difference between a suit and a tuxedo

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Your big day is coming up, and you’re faced with a decision for which you aren’t prepared. Suit or tuxedo? How can you make the call if you don’t know the difference?

"Tuxedos are the black ones, right?" 007 may have you think so, but not exclusively!

Tuxedos are categorized mainly by two things- the lapels and the buttons. The lapels are the most obvious difference to spot, and are a great place to start when distinguishing a suit from a tux.

A lapel on a suit jacket will be the exact same color, pattern, and fabric as the rest of the jacket. The lapel on a tuxedo will be different, usually silk satin.

These two jackets, though worn very similarly, actually have some important differences. The tuxedo jacket on the right has a black silk satin lapel.

The silk satin on the lapel can be subtle. Even if almost all the lapel is the same color and fabric as the rest of the jacket, the inclusion of a silk satin embellishment puts a jacket in the tuxedo category.


This jacket may look like a suit at first glance, but the silk satin piping on the side of the lapel makes it a tux.

The other major distinguishing factor is the button. Tuxedo jackets will include fabric-covered buttons, and suit jacket buttons will be bare.

Even without seeing any other part of the garment, we can tell this jacket is a tuxedo because of the covered button.

We can tell this jacket is a suit because of the bare button.

The other difference you may see in a tuxedo is the silk satin strip down the side of the pant leg. It’s quintessential to the classic black tie tuxedo, but in modern fashion it is either shrinking in width to complement a more tapered, slim-fit pant look, or disappearing altogether.

By Liz Preston 11/05/20