For most men, there may be two occasions where they will wear a tuxedo: their prom and their wedding.
For the prom, the tux may come in pastel colors and be accompanied by accessories such as top hats and spats.
But for a wedding, the tuxedo and, hopefully the wearer, will have more of a grown-up appearance.
Make no mistake, while a man's suit and a tuxedo might look similar, a tuxedo is not a man's suit paired with a bow tie.
The biggest difference between suits and tuxedos is the use of silk satin in the design of the tuxedo, most prominently on the lapels.
Suits are almost always made with a consistent fabric on both the jacket and pants — no special lapels, no satin leg stripes. And most tuxedos have silk-covered jacket buttons while suits have normal buttons.
Deciding to wear a tuxedo to your wedding is a decision to elevate your appearance above the usual Sunday-go-to-meeting suit.
If you're wearing a tuxedo, you're probably celebrating something special.
And it's rare that a bridegroom can decipher the dress code called for in such a situation, although James MacDonald IV did just that during his October wedding in Miami Beach, Fla., said his father, James MacDonald of West Sunbury.
“He decided on a white dinner jacket,” said the elder MacDonald. “The wedding was at 2 in the afternoon on the top of a hotel. The groomsmen wore gray and he wore a white dinner tuxedo.
“I gave away the bride because her father couldn't be there and I wore a gray suit.”
Usually, a bridegroom has input, in some cases a lot of input, from the bride, said Haley Ward, branch manager for Tuxedo Junction, 20215 Route 19 in the Cranberry Shoppes in Cranberry Township.
“More often than not, it's a couple that comes in the first time,” Ward said. “They'll go through the styles and she'll say, 'What do you think? You're the one that has to wear it.'”
Ward said more grooms are going for a slim-fit tuxedo than a more relaxed fitting one.
As far as colors, Ward said, “People kind of do what they want to do. They choose all black or charcoal or navy.”
Ward added that prospective tuxedo renters shouldn't be intimidated by a multitude of tuxedo styles and accessories.
“Customers should realize that the people here are going to guide them,” Ward said. “They're not going to let them make a mistake.
“Sometimes there's a little hand-holding as well as measuring,” she said.
Ward added that the best advice she could give prospective brides and bridegrooms is to start planning — the earlier, the better.
“Don't put it off for a really long time because you are intimidated and don't know what to do,” she said. “The best thing to do is just do it.”
Any mistakes can be corrected with enough lead time, she added.