Is a suit okay for prom? Or does it need to be a tux?

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.

    • my suit is black. and I think around half the people going to prom will be wearing suits instead of tuxedos, since I go to a public school so not everybody has a lot of money

    • Some public schools everyone's rich, some not.

      A black suit, by the way, is more of an 'evening' then a daytime suit (unless it has a stripe).

      I think it will be fine. I'd wear it with either a simple dark long tie or a black bow tie for prom. If you learn to tie the tie yourself, it will look far better then pretied.

      For the formal dinner, how formal a dinner is it, what will others be wearing?

    • the formal dinner is not "formal" in the traditional sense. the high school youth group at my church runs an appreciation dinner every year, where the guys and girls dress up formal and "appreciate" each other. in this case I think the guys will be making dinner and serving it, while the girls took care of desert and drinks or whatever.

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 3

  • You can wear whatever you want, it's your prom :) Most of the guys at my prom just did the dress shirt and dress pants for the night. Mainly because it was so humid that day. Anyone wearing a full suit or a tux got incredibly hot, especially if they were dancing!

    It also depends on your prom. Is it going to be formal, or semi-formal? But honestly, again, it's your prom. I would wear the suit, you said yourself it looks pretty sharp. It's not like you wear suits everyday either, so people will know you are dressed for prom.

    • its a pretty formal prom. but I always figured that suits qualified as formal :P

    • Suits definitely qualify as formal. It's not something you would wear everyday, and it's definitely going to be formal.

  • What's the difference?

  • No a suit is fine.


What Guys Said 3

  • just wear black and black and it'll be harder to tell o.O

    personally... other than the vest is there even a difference between the two

    • lol that's what I thought! apparently there is a difference in looks and the "message" that it gives off. a suit gives off a "well dressed" message, whereas a tux goes the extra mile or whatever.

    • Show All
    • I would buy a tuxedo rather than rent one every time I needed it. Also, if you buy, you can get it altered, because no one wants to wear a baggy tux with short arms that 100 other people have stretched out.

    • Depends if you're done growing. I wasn't at that age.

  • Don't go to prom is my best advice, but generally it shouldn't matter what you wear to any event. Well that's my opinion.

  • Give this a gander: