tuxedos for women

Black tie optional: The best tuxedos for women

17 Nov 2023 | |By Ellie Goodman

Make a statement this party season in a sharply tailored tuxedo

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As party season approaches, thoughts are turning to the occasion-ready outfits we’ll be rocking as we sip champagne and snack on canapés. This year, more than ever, many of us will be looking to make a strong style statement as we do the party rounds, and what better way than to pull out all the stops with a dashing, black-tie-appropriate tuxedo? 

More formal than your run-of-the-mill two-piece suit, and commonly worn for black-tie galas, parties, balls and events after 6pm, “a tuxedo is most often distinguished by beautiful satin faced lapels, jets and satin-covered buttons of the jacket, usually with a satin side stripe down the trouser,” says Daisy Knatchbull, founder of Savile Row tailor The Deck, which specialises in bespoke suits for women. “They are most often seen as a single-breasted jacket with a peak lapel and one button fastening.”

“The main fabric is usually a barathea weave made from wool, sometimes mohair,” adds Kimberley Lawton, founder of Lawton Ltd, another female-focused tailor. “A tuxedo can be single- or double-breasted, commonly black or midnight blue. It’s typically paired with a white dress shirt, worn with cufflinks and shirt studs instead of buttons, and a matching bow tie.” 

That said, these rules are much less set in stone when it comes to womenswear, leaving you free to experiment with different colours, fabrics and silhouettes. “A burgundy, emerald, or sapphire suit wouldn’t offend anyone,” suggests Lawton. “With texture, you could try velvets. With leg lines, flares or wide legs would work. And you don’t even need to wear a shirt, which would enhance the female form and add a touch of sex appeal.” Knatchbull, meanwhile, recommends “a beautiful silk shirt, camisole or bodysuit to keep your tuxedo looking soft and feminine, topped with a pair of killer heels and good accessories.”

The Deck yellow tuxedo
The Deck

And whether you opt for bespoke or ready-to-wear, there are some key factors that should be considered when choosing your tux. Tailoring, for example, should be first and foremost in your mind when shopping: “go for a strong shoulder, nipped-in waist, single button fastening and slanted pockets,” says Knatchbull. “This will draw the eye to the centre to make you appear longer and slimmer. Make sure the jacket sits below the crotch and the trousers sit at the smallest point of the hips to elongate both top and bottom”.

“A tuxedo should take a closer fit than a business suit for a more elegant silhouette,” advises Lawton. “If you have previously  purchased business suits from a specific tailoring house or ready-to-wear store and have been happy with the fit, then invest in a tuxedo from this preferred provider as they will have refined the cut and fit to your liking.”

Elsewhere, considerations should be made in terms of budget and styling, as this is a style that won’t get as much wear as your little black party dress might. “As it will be worn so infrequently, choose timeless style details to ensure that it will be a faithful and relevant wardrobe staple for years to come,” says Lawton. “Consider your budget, and justify either a bespoke or a ready-to-wear tuxedo based on how many black tie invites you’re likely to receive.”

“Often midnight blue is a better option than black as it feels warmer and lifts the complexion,” adds Knatchbull. “Having jetted pockets instead of flaps is often a nice option to keep the sleek silhouette, and ensure the buttonholes are working – it’s often the sign of a well-made suit!” 

With all that said, here’s our pick of the best tuxedos for women to make a statement this party season…

Alexander McQueen tuxedo mini dress

Having trained in tailoring at Savile Row’s Anderson & Sheppard before moving on to study fashion at Central Saint Martins, it’s no surprise that sharp suiting became such a mainstay of Alexander McQueen’s collections while Lee McQueen was at the helm. Thankfully, not much has changed under creative director Sarah Burton, and tailoring has remained key to the brand’s identity. Putting an off-beat McQueen spin on the traditional tuxedo jacket, this chic mini dress is ideal for making a splash at your next evening do. Cut from 100 per cent wool, with satin peak lapels, jetted pockets and a tailored cinched waistline, it’s so sharp you’ll hardly notice the absence of trousers.

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Etro jacquard double-breasted blazer

With its refined take on the tuxedo, Etro proves that a touch of design goes a long way. Crafted from a navy jacquard silk blend with traditional silk lapels, jetted pockets and a double-breasted button closure, this slim-fit single-breasted blazer is a versatile choice for those who don’t want to save their black-tie attire for only special occasions. Try dressing it down with jeans to make the most of your investment, as Knatchbull suggests, “I love a tuxedo trouser with a white t-shirt and trainers or a tuxedo jacket over jeans for a different kind of look. The great thing is being able to wear your tuxedo jacket or trouser more casually when not at black-tie events.”

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Max Mara Monica double-breasted tuxedo jacket

Rendered in a crisp white, this sleek Monica tuxedo from Max Mara is guaranteed to turn heads and makes for an ideal alternative to classic black or navy styles, without straying into jewel-tone territory. Cut for a streamlined double-breasted silhouette, it features padded shoulders, a subtly cinched waistline and satin-covered buttons.

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Max Mara Kabur wide-leg trousers

Worn with the matching wide-leg trousers, it’s an ideal alternative to a frothy frilled dress come your wedding day, especially when accessorised with sparkling diamond jewellery and your choice of bridal shoes.

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Saint Laurent double-breasted tuxedo

If you’re going to do the classics, you might as well do them boldly, and this Saint Laurent tuxedo certainly does that. Tailored from 100 per cent virgin wool, with a boxy double-breasted silhouette and striking, oversized satin peak lapels it makes for a chic borrowed-from-the-boys look.

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Saint Laurent tuxedo trousers

Styled with the brand’s straight-fit, high-rise trousers, a vibrant floral shirt and a pair of killer heels, it’s sure to make a strong statement at any event.

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Wardrobe.NYC tuxedo jacket

Exemplifying the brand’s ethos of practical urban minimalism, this single-breasted tuxedo blazer from Wardrobe.NYC makes the case for refined design. Tailored in 100 per cent wool with a slim-fitting, contoured silhouette and non-traditional flap pockets, it’s a more versatile style, ideal for dressing up with statement jewellery, or throwing over a big, woolly jumper and a pair of black jeans for a sharp off-duty look.

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Tadashi Shoji tuxedo-style velvet gown

Tadashi Shoji is known for exemplary evening wear and this gown embodies the refined design aesthetic wonderfully. Rendered in black velvet with peak lapels, a sleek double-breasted button fastening, and a sweeping train, it combines the formal elegance of a tuxedo with the easy grace of a floor-length gown. wear this to a winter wedding to make a sophisticated statement.

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