Tuxedo Shirt

The alphabet for April is officially finished, but as I have a couple of days left in the month I thought I would highlight a couple of other styles that didn’t make it into the first 26. First up is the Tuxedo Shirt…

AKA: bib-front shirt, tuxedo blouse

How to say it:  tuhk-see-doh shurt

Traditional Features: 

Tuxedo Shirt

  • styled like a dress shirt
  • has a bib down the centre front – can reach the full length of the shirt front or finish part way down the shirt
  • bib often in contrasting colour or texture


…of the style: The signature bib front style of the tuxedo shirt has gone through quite a few variations over the decades, in the form of the men’s dress shirt. The pleated front style was introduced in the early Victorian period and was popular as it added stiffness to the front of the shirt and allowed for it to remain uncrumpled for longer, extending its life between washing.

In the late Victorian period, styles in men’s formal wear turned towards the stiff, highly starched bib or ‘bosom’, which were made from 4 layers of piqué or pleated linen and generally had two or three studs in the centre front. These studs were purely ornamental, as the shirts were back opening to allow for the bib to sit flat on the body.

The stiff bib style continued to be the acceptable dress for formal occasions into the Edwardian Era, however it was during this time that the soft-fronted shirt, ancestor of the modern tuxedo shirt, also began to be worn by younger men and fashion mavericks.

This style had no stiff bib; instead the fabric of the shirt was pleated in the front, creating a similar look to the stiff bibs on an infinitely more comfortable garment. The soft-front shirt began to be more accepted by the end of the 19th century, although etiquette still stated that the style be worn only with the new informal dinner jacket (tuxedo jacket) on summer evenings or other such informal occasions. Purveyors of etiquette and social propriety continued to rule that the soft-front shirt was only appropriate for informal occasions right up until the 1930s, however the tides began to turn in 1928 when the Prince of Wales began wearing a soft-front shirt as part of his formal attire.

This softer style of dress shirt became the accepted standard for men’s formal wear, with the simple pleated shirt front evolving into a single layer bib style similar to modern styles. The look of the tuxedo shirt remained fairly constant until the 1950s and 60s when the fashion trends turned towards the ruffles and excess of the Regency Era.

Tuxedo shirts had to keep up with the increasingly exuberant dinner jackets of the time and so began to incorporated rows of ruffles, larger pleats or lace down the bib. After this new style of shirt was worn by celebrities at the 1959 Oscars, the look caught on and bib designs got increasingly elaborate, with cascading frills becoming the norm by the middle of the 60s. These decades also saw the decline of the shirt stud, as shirts were all front opening by this time and were increasingly made with white buttons rather than stud eyelets.

By the end of the 70s the tuxedo shirt had somewhat returned to its roots having picked up some more modern traits along the way. The late 70s version was soft fronted, with a soft, attached collar (rather than the stiff, detachable collars of the past) and pleated bib. This toned down, return-to-formality look remained the primary tuxedo shirt style for the rest of the 20th century and continues to be worn by men at Black and White Tie occasions, although the frequency of said occasions are significantly less than in the past.

As for womenwear, I couldn’t really find any information as to when the tuxedo shirt made the jump. Women began wearing shirts and blouses in the mid 1800s, and Yves Saint Laurent introduced his famous Le Smoking collection featuring women’s tuxedos in 1966, so I would assume that it was some time after that. Somewhere along the line the tuxedo shirt got separated from the suit and becoming a shirt style of its own. The shirt became a lot more casual than its predecessors, opening the style up to variations in design, fabric and colour. The modern tuxedo shirt is a perfect medium between casual and smart clothing making it a classic, versatile style appropriate for many occasions.

…of the name: The tuxedo shirt is named after the men’s dress shirt that inspired the design.

For more info on Dress Shirts and Tuxedos try The Black Tie Guide or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

21st Century Tuxedo Shirt

No longer confined to Black Tie affairs, the modern tuxedo shirt is casual, chic and super easy to wear.

Dries van Noten LOFT

Dries van Noten, LOFT

saint laurent Mango

Saint Laurent, Mango


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