Q: Dear APW,
My big brother is getting married in December and his fiancé has chosen black bridesmaids dresses for her two sisters. Since I’m standing up with him and the choice is mine as to what I wear (but feel I should at least honor the basic palette instead of, say, teal), do you have any recommendations for hot-to-trot black lady tuxes (or suits even) that won’t cost me a kazillion dollars? Preferably with pants and sky high heels, but I’m open. The wedding is in a month, I’m a size four or six (depending on the cut) and I’d like to keep things under $500. (I will be able to wear it after the wedding, after all.)
A: Hey Lauren,
Well your first mistake was doing a search for tuxedo-related clothing on Net-A-Porter! Oh, that wasn’t your mistake. That was mine. Don’t do it unless you’d like to up your budget to a zillion dollars, because hot damn, couture tuxedos for women are sexy as hell and some things just can’t be unseen (in an “I need to find six grand in my couch cushions tomorrow or there will be tears” kind of way). But I digress. Let’s find you a hot-to-trot tux! (And bless you for using one of my favorite turns of phrase of all time.)
The hardest part of finding the right women’s tuxedo is making sure your outfit doesn’t veer into cater waiter territory. And while that definitely can be helped by a well-tailored suit, it’s mostly about attitude (well, and styling). Janelle Monae has, by far, the best tuxedo game of any celebrity out there. If you want inspiration on mixing and matching separates, and styling things in a way that doesn’t say, “Would you like the chicken or the fish?” then look no further than right here. (The runner-up, Anne Hathaway has a pretty mean, if somewhat limited, tuxedo game too.) What I’ve learned from both of these ladies is that the secret sauce is all in the detailing. An interesting shoulder, a unique lapel, or a cool leather detail will all keep your tuxedo from turning into a uniform.
Now, onto brass tacks.
The Jumpsuit: Full disclosure: after sifting through dozens and dozens of tuxedos for women, I decided that you should just get a tuxedo jumpsuit. First of all, you’ll save about $200 by not needing to buy your pants and your top separately. But also, because the tuxedo jumpsuit looks fancy, without trying too hard. You could just as easily wear this to a black tie event as you could wear it to a cool loft wedding at an art gallery. If you feel like going for broke, I’d get this Alice by Temperley jumpsuit for $595 or this amazing Haute Hippie low-back version for $695. Pair with simple jewelry and killer shoes.
1. BCBG Generation Tuxedo Halter Jumpsuit ($138) 2. Quartz Iris Earrings by Five and Two ($36) 3. Let’s Be Clear Crossbody Bag by NastyGal ($40) 4. Jeffrey Campbell Soiree Heel in Black via NastyGal ($122)
The Updated Classic: The slightly pointed shoulders and exaggerated shape on this tuxedo jacket keep it modern and interesting while still being really flattering. To channel Janelle Monae here, wear the tuxedo shirt buttoned all the way up, with a cool bowtie, killer shoes, and a great udpo. The pants will put you a bit over budget, but they’re too good not to include. Feel free to swap them out for something more sensible. These ones have a similar vibe for a whole lot less.
1. Peaked Shoulder Women’s Tuxedo Suit Jacket from Lookbook Store ($50) 2. Blue by Betsey Johnson Wed Silver Sequin Pumps via Zappos ($129.95) 3. H&M Tuxedo Shirt ($34.95) 4. Asos Bow Tie in Leopard Print ($15.16) 5. Veronica Beard Slim Tuxedo Pants via ShopBop ($495)
The One With Sequins: The easiest way to let yourself off the hook here is to choose separates that intentionally don’t match perfectly. Pair a simple jacket with a sequin skirt, or an edgy blazer with a simple pair of trousers. That way, it won’t be obvious if there are minor differences in fabric color. It will just seem intentional. I really liked the wide lapels of the jacket above, but it’s worth noting that you can really pair any jacket with these pants; it’s just a matter of fit preference. If this oversized number with the faux leather lapel comes back in stock at TopShop, it would make for an edgier, even more of-the-moment choice. Or you could always throw caution to the wind and pair these pants with a tuxedo cape (capes for all occasions is my motto). Extra Credit: I went for the more modest bow tie here, but I really want you to wear the super oversized one.
1. Crippen Black Wool Tux Jacket via Avenue 32 ($438) 2. Silk Tuxedo Pleat Blouse from White House | Black Market ($49.99) 3. Asos Bow Tie ($11.37) 4. Stylestalker Iris Sequin Pant via NastyGal ($200) 5. Nine West Chimein pumps via Zappos ($99)
The good news to come out of all of this, is that in my search I found a ton of super hot options for mix-and-match tuxwear. So if the outfits above aren’t what you had in mind (or if you are mad at me for kind of going over budget a little-bit-slash-a-lot-ish on most of these suggestions) there’s a ton more below. And I know I say this all the time, but if I don’t see photographic evidence of this outfit after the fact, I am going to be heartbroken. For real this time.