Proper Way to Wear a Cumberbund

Updated April 17, 2017

Formal affairs require formal attire. For men, this means wearing a tuxedo with a cumberbund. A cumberbund, also called a cummerbund, is a wide pleated sash, or waistband, worn instead of a vest. Although the traditional function of a cumberbund has been phased out through the years, there are still several basics to keep in mind when wearing one.

Historical Usage

Cumberbunds were traditionally worn with the pleats facing up. The purpose of this was to provide a place for the men wearing them to place tickets, papers or bills. The pleats provided a sort of pocket into which small items could be tucked. Some also claim that a cumberbund in the "pleats up" position functioned as a "crumb catcher" during meals. However, in modern society, the use of cumberbunds is completely aesthetic in nature.

Contemporary Usage

Because cumberbunds are no longer used to hold ticket stubs or other small papers, modern men have begun wearing them both ways: pleats up and pleats down, as a matter of personal preference. The one thing you do want to be sure of never to wear a cumberbund with a vest. The cumberbund should serve as an alternative to a vest and should be worn with a button-down shirt, single-breasted tuxedo jacket (left open or unbuttoned) and coordinating trousers. The cumberbund can be worn with either a bowtie or necktie; just make sure that, whichever one you choose, it matches the cumberbund.


Cumberbunds are available in a wide variety of styles and colours. Silk and brocade are the two most popular choices of material for cumberbunds. For more traditionally formal events, silk cumberbunds in shades of black and grey are appropriate. Brocade cumberbunds are available in pleated or plain solid style. For weddings, cumberbunds can be a great way to incorporate your wedding colours into the bridal party. Both the cumberbund and tie can be chosen in colours to match the bridesmaids' gowns (for the groomsmen) or the bride's dress and jewellery (for the groom).


Cumberbunds are usually elasticated or buckled and can be adjusted to the appropriate fit. Be sure to try on the cumberbund in advance to ensure proper fit. Always wear suspenders with a tuxedo, never a belt. And although cumberbunds can serve to emphasise the waistline, they also create the illusion of being taller, which is good news for men on the shorter side.

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About the Author

Kara Riccitelli is a writer and editor with more than a decade of professional experience. She joined the staff of The Vindicator, a daily newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio. Her articles and section layouts have appeared in numerous special advertising sections of The Vindicator. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and editing from Youngstown State University.