Picking out a tux can be a dizzying task-especially for the gentleman who prefers pajamas to partywear. So the groom can talk the talk, here are a few key terms.
The maximum degree of formality: evening events only and must include a white tie and tailcoat.
Tailcoat (Also: Tails) Buttons at the waist but cuts away at the legs so that there are two strips of cloth hanging down. A similar style is a morning coat (or cutaway), which tapers from the front button to the back tail and is worn at daytime weddings.
A matching formal coat and pants, defined by the satin stripe down the leg and accompanied by a bow tie and cummerbund or waistcoat. These coats can be double-breasted (good for skinny types) or single-breasted (for the robust).
A lay-down collar is the fold-down collar typical of a button-down. A mandarin collar stands up around the neck and has no folds. A wing tip is a mandarin with two tiny triangles that fold down on each end near the throat.
A wide tie that goes around the neck like a scarf, then folds over the top. Reminiscent of a nineteenth-century British gentleman.
A piece of cloth that wraps around your waist, worn with the pleats pointing upward. Should match your bow tie.
Another term for a vest. Considered a fractional step down in formality from a cummerbund. Should coordinate in color or pattern with the bow tie. Also commonly worn with a traditional tie.
Single-breasted tuxedos have one, two, or three buttons. Adding a button makes the coat higher set, so the taller you are, the more buttons you can get away with.
Gets wider from button to shoulder and has a notch near the top. Usually worn with a black bow tie and cummerbund. Very traditional.
Shawl Lapel A rounded lapel that runs without a break from the top button all the way around the neck and back down the front. Usually worn with a lay-down-collar shirt and a cravat. Very fashion-forward.
The lapel sweeps upward from the button and becomes wider until it ends in a point near the shoulder. Very Count Dracula.
From the Spring 2005 New York Wedding Guide