Any time a tuxedo is needed, a choice arises: to cummerbund or not to cummerbund. Also called cumberbunds, cummerbunds are an accessory that add polish, colour and flare to the otherwise bland tuxedo. Cummerbunds are a more traditional option when formal attire is required.
Cummerbunds have long been worn by men. Europeans developed the style from the scarves and sashes worn by Indian men during the occupation of India. They were first a part of formal military wear and gradually found their way into civilian formal attire. Today, cummerbunds or their counterparts, sashes, are the only formal wear piece worn by men of every culture.
Colourful cummerbunds can add some flare to the wearer, or a classic black can have a slimming effect. They can also give the illusion of longer legs. If colour is selected, it will always match the tie. Prom dates and brides may insist the colour match their dress or wedding colours.
How to Properly Wear
Tradition suggests that the pleats on the cummerbund point upward. Cummerbunds were originally functional pieces for their wearers, and the pleats were used to hold small items. It should fit snugly but not constrict or cut into the body. They are worn over the shirt and trousers but under the jacket. Cummerbunds attach in the back with snaps, buttons or buckles. The cummerbund is worn over the waistband of the trousers. Remember, it's either a cummerbund or a vest--never both.
Fabric, Color and Pattern
Cummerbunds come in every colour of the rainbow. Rental shops provide them in sets with a tie, which means their colours matches exactly. Red, grey and black are the most conservative and traditional colours. More expensive cummerbunds are made of silk, although rental shops supply satin polyester. If purchasing a cummerbund, choose silk, which is appropriate for any event for even the most formal event. Brocade cummerbunds recently have become a popular choice for grooms. Plaid tartans are available for those who are proud of their heritage.
Cummerbunds vs. Vests
Whenever a tuxedo is worn, either a vest or cummerbund is an important accessory. Cummerbunds are considered to be more traditional; vests are more popular with younger men. Cummerbunds accentuate the waistline, which means they should probably be avoided for those with protruding bellies.
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