Home > Tux Help > Tux Terminology > Glossary of Formalwear Terms
 
 
 
ASCOT (as-kot)
A cravat with wide square ends; secured with an ornamental pin.
BESOM (be'-zum)
Narrow welted edging on coat body above pocket lip.
BLACK TIE INVITED
An event where a tuxedo or dinner jacket is encouraged but not required. If not a tuxedo, proper dressy attire (coat and tie) is necessary.
BLACK TIE OPTIONAL
An event where a tuxedo or dinner jacket may be worn but is not required. Proper dressy attire (suit, not a sport coat) is necessary.
BLACK TIE REQUIRED
An event where a tuxedo or dinner jacket is required. Don't even think about attending without one.
BOUTONNIERE (boo'-t?-nîr')
A flower or small bunch of flowers worn in a button hole. From Old French, buttonhole.
BOW TIE
Standard formal attire. Wide array of fabrics, colors and patterns. Black is always the preferred choice. Available usually pre-tied with a neck band to wear on a wing-collar or dress-collar shirt. Be bold, buy a black silk tie that you tie yourself. Very James Bond-like.
BRACES
The English term for suspenders. Usually of the button-on variety but also available as clip-on.
BUTTON COVER
Decorative gold or silver ornamentation that locks over the top button of a mandarin collar shirt. Popular in the 90s.
CANE
A straight black cane with white tips on both ends. Traditionally carried when wearing "white tie and tails". Usually accompanied by white gloves and a top hat.
CONTINENTAL VEST (aka waistcoat)
A backless vest designed to accommodate varied sizes of men. Available in a wide array of colors and fabric patterns. With the exception of boys sizes and extra-large sizes, vest comes as a 'one size fits all.' Includes adjustable strapping at the back of the neck for length and across the lower back to adjust the waist.
CUFF LINKS
Traditional formal attire. Usually available in gold, silver, silver plate, gold plate, and nickel-plate. Normally coordinated with four shirt studs worn on the front placket of the shirt in lieu of buttons.
CUMMERBUND (kum'-er-bund')
A broad sash, especially one that is pleated lengthwise and worn as an article of formal dress, as with a dinner jacket. Worn so the open side of the pleats are up (as if to hold opera tickets).
CUTAWAY (aka morning coat)
Classic daytime formal attire that used to be worn only for events prior to noon. Now acceptable up until mid-afternoon, but never for evenings. A charcoal gray or black coat with a long coachman back. The front of the coat "cuts away from the button down. Worn with a dove gray or black vest, striped or pin-dot ascot, wing collar shirt, and either striped or nailhead pants. Black formal shoes or dress calfskin shoes are a must.
DINNER JACKET
Traditionally, for summer, white, off-white or Sahara tan. Panama weave, single or double-breasted, self-faced shawl collar dinner jacket with black formal trousers. Worn with a white pleated wing-collar or spread-collar shirt.
DROP
The number of inches smaller the trouser waist of a suit is than the coat. A size 40 regular suit, for example, usually has a 6 inch trouser drop... a 34 inch waist.
FEDORA (fí-dôr'-uh)
A soft felt hat with a fairly low crown creased lengthwise and a brim that can be turned up or down.
FOUR-IN-HAND
The simplest of neckwear knots to tie. Name comes from a coach being drawn by four horse in two teams, driven in tandem by a single person. Young blades took up the sport, organized into clubs and adopted the professional coachman's tie as a mark of distinction. A four-in-hand is a small knot for wear with a narrow-spread collar.
FULLBACK VEST (aka waistcoat)
Similar to a continental vest but with a full satin back like on a traditional three-piece suit. Usually found with an adjustable strap across the lower back to cinch-in any excess fabric. Available in as many as eight sizes.
GORGE
The seam on a coat where collar meets lapel.
HACKING POCKET
A slanted flap pocket on a coat. Rarely found in formal wear.
HANDKERCHIEF (aka pocket square)
A silk or satin fabric square folded in a variety of manners and placed in the outer breast pocket of a tuxedo. Does not have to match the vest but should complement the colors in the tie and or vest.
HERRINGBONE
Classic zigzag effect resembling the backbone of a herring. Achieved by altering the direction of a twill.
IRIDESCENT
Contrasting warp and filling yarns giving a two-color effect.
JACQUARD
An intricate, variegated, self-pattern weave with clear finish. Named for the Frenchman who invented the loom in the early 19th century.
LOW RISE
The difference between inseam and outseam of trousers. Several inches shorter than normal rise depending on the designer. Favored by the young and slim.
NORMAL RISE
The difference between the inseam and outseam of trousers. (Normal rise for size 32 regular, for example, is 10 7/8" (10 1/8" for 32 short and 11 1/8" for 32 long. Rise increases 1/8" for each increase in waist size.)
NOTCHED (NOTCH) LAPEL
Type of lapel on which the top line slants down in line with the collar seam.
PAISLEY
A fabric woven or printed with colorful curved (amoeba-like) abstract figures.
PEAKED (PEAK) LAPEL
Type of lapel on which the top line slants up from the horizontal.
PIMA
Fine grade, long bred staple crossbreed of Sea Island and Egyptian cotton, developed in Pima County, Arizona.
PLY
One of the strands in a yarn, 2-ply would indicate that two strands have been twisted together to make one yarn.
PUMP
Type of low-cut, slip-on shoe for formal evening wear. Does not have laces or straps. Usually has an ornamental grosgrain ribbon bow in front. Made of patent leather or dull calf.
SHAWL COLLAR
An unnotched lapel with no gorge.
TARTAN
A plaid textile design of stripes of varying width and color against a solid ground, patterned to designate a clan.
TWILL
A textile weave in which filling yarns pass over one and under two or more warp yarns producing a diagonal rib.
TWIST
A yarn formed by twisting two or more strands together. Different colored yarns are often used for unusual color effect.
UNDERBASTING
The temporary sewing together of two pieces of fabric to assure perfect pattern matches. Threads are removed at final pressing.
UNDERPRESSING
Pressing on the reverse side of the fabric to mold it so it will retain its shape.
VENT
Slit at center or sides on the bottom of the back of a jacket or coat.
WELT
A raised double edge, strip, insert, or seam for ornament or reinforcement.
WINDSOR
The largest of the three neckwear knot styles. Worn with wide spread collar shirts. (Half-windsor is worn with medium spread collar).
WORSTED
A smooth, compact yarn form long wool fibers, used for smooth, firm, compact fabrics.
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