I recently went prom shopping and I got myself a three piece suit for a reasonable price because it was on sale. I didn't know the difference between a suit and a tux until I looked online and found out that I had bought a suit instead of a tux.
People tell me that a tux is pretty much demanded for prom because wearing a suit to prom is underdressing. To be honest I think the suit looks very classy, especially with the fancy vest underneath and the sharp tie.
Also for a separate event:
I have a formal dinner coming up a few weeks after prom. Should I wear a bow tie to a dinner instead of a long tie, since bow ties are more suited for dinners? I intend on using the same suit, but I've also heard that bow-ties go with tuxedos and not suits.
Ugh, even men's dress code is confusing... :(
Most Helpful Guy
Men's dress code is much less confusing then women's dress code, or would be, if people didn't keep trying to make it vague and flexible. You just don't know the basics.
Formal evening typically nowadays calls for a tuxedo, which means a tuxedo with vest or cummerbund and a bow tie, ideally black. This is also referred to as 'black tie'. There is also a type of event where the invitation would say 'black tie optional' which means you can wear a tuxedo or a suit. This is assuming evening. Formal in the day would nowadays mean a suit.
Semi formal calls for a suit.
For the sake of knowledge, I'll mention that decades ago, a tuxedo would have been considered semi-formal in the evening. "Formal" back then meant -white- tie. That is, black tails, white shirt, white vest, white tie. Formal in the daytime meant a 'morning suit' which involves blacktailcoat, grey striped trousers, grey vest typically and a different sort of tie. If you see rich people hanging around at a horse race in england during the daytime, that's what they're wearing. This level of formality is not something you're likely to see much in the US now unless you go to formal events run by particularly well off southerners or a few very well off north easterners.
So coming back to your present situation, a tuxedo would be the correct attire for prom. I doubt you'll be turned away if you're not wearing a tuxedo. Whether everyone will be in one or not depends on the sort of school you go to. You might find out by asking around. Whether I would try to get away with a suit if most are in a tux depends a little on the color of your suit. What color is it?
As for your formal dinner, I wouldn't assume 'bow ties are more suited for dinners'. A tuxedo calls for a bow tie, but with a suit they are simply optional, though they were out of style, apart from among chemistry professors who liked the way they didn't get into their chemicals, and other physical science sorts who hung around with them (and the odd bond trader in solidarity). They've recently made a little bit of a comeback.