The cummerbund is a traditional alternative to a vest or waist-coat, first adopted by the British military during the occupation of India. Today, it is largely a piece of formal-wear used in tuxedos or similarly dressy men's attire. Many men will have never seen one until they rent a tuxedo and may be confused about how to correctly wear it. It may seem an odd little bit of fabric, but it is quite easy to handle.
Research the occasion. Formal dinner parties have different dress requirements than weddings, and the rules of fashion tend to change around major holidays. Certain colors of cummerbunds are reserved for Christmas. Also, consider the time of day. If you're attending a function before five p.m., you may be required to wear morning dress. In this case, you would forgo the cummerbund for a waistcoat.
1. Wear a cummberbund that matches your tie. It is a style faux pas to wear a mismatching cummberbund and tie. Choose an appropriate-color cummerbund. Simple, solid colors are the most elegant and safest bet. For weddings, you can choose a color that complements your tie or handkerchief. A good rule of thumb is to wear black if you're unsure.
2. Wear a single-breasted jacket with your cummberbund. Single-breasted jackets are always worn with either a vest or a cummberbund, but not both. The jackets are most often worn open to show the cummberbund. Do not wear a belt if you are wearing a cummberbund.
3. Wear trousers with a high waist that will be completely covered by the cummerbund. The cummerbund provides a transition between shirt and waist. It is considered tacky to have an exposed waistband while wearing a cummerbund.
4. Attach the cummerbund snugly around your middle with the pleats facing up. This gives a somewhat slimming effect. The reason the pleats face up is a hold-over from late Victorian England, when gentlemen would tuck theater ticket stubs into the pleats of their cummerbunds.
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