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White Tuxedo Jacket When Appropriate to Wear?

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I own a black tuxedo but would prefer to wear a white jacket (with the black pants) during the summer. Is this just another outmoded concept? Isn't wearing black in July kind of gauche, not to mention hot?


Trying to Keep Cool

Dear Trying to keep cool,

A black tuxedo is a year 'round classic. However, in summer or warm climates, you can substitute a white dinner jacket for the black tuxedo jacket. points out that although white dinner jackets would be appropriate at formal occasions in the tropics year round, in the United States it is appropriate during the summer season at open air functions such as country club or yacht club parties. Blacktieguide also suggests avoiding synththetic fabrics and bright whites.

In brief are some guidelines for white dinner jackets given by below.


1) Single- or double-breasted models are both correct and both offer distinct advantages for warm-weather climates. The former allows the jacket to be worn open while the latter permits the wearer to dispense with a waist covering [cummerbund].

2) Lapels: while peaked lapels are perfectly acceptable, the more casual effect of the shawl collar is ideally suited to this less formal dinner jacket.


1) White Color: Although etiquette experts generally refer to these alternative jackets as "white" and rental shops are filled with brightly bleached polyester coats, sartorial authorities deliberately prefer descriptors such as off-white, ivory, cream or winter white instead. There are a number of reasons for this:

a) white wool and other natural fabrics take on a yellowish appearance over time

b) when worn in abundance pure white is counterintuitive to the understated elegance that formal wear is intended to convey

c) bright white is unflattering to fair-skinned faces

2) Unlined, lightweight natural fabrics are acceptable alternatives to the standard worsted wool. This includes cotton, gabardine and linen. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they donít breathe well (and usually donít look very good either).


Traditionally, the lapels are self facing meaning that they are covered in the same fabric as the rest of the jacket. The details of the pockets, vents and buttons are the same as for the classic jacket.


Warm-weather trousers follow the same rules as classic trousers including their black or midnight blue coloring. Trousers tailored for hot climates should be constructed of lighter weight worsted than used for a year-round tuxedo.

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