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Monday, 1 October 2018

How to Wear a Cummerbund

A cummerbunds is a traditional piece of men’s formal wear that is commonly worn with tuxedos and similar attire. Even though cummerbunds are simple accessories, there’s a right and wrong way to sport them. Always put on your cummerbund with the pleats facing out and up, making sure it’s sitting at your natural waist. Your cummerbund should complement the rest of your outfit, so choose a bow tie in the same fabric and basic style, if possible.


EditPutting on a Cummerbund

  1. Place the cummerbund over your natural waistline. The upper half of the cummerbund should cover the bottom of your dress shirt, and the lower half should cover the top of your trousers. If it falls below the bottom button on your dinner jacket, it’s too low. If the fabric of your shirt is visible around your waistline, it’s too high.[1]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 1.jpg
    • Positioning your cummerbund correctly may require you to wear your trousers slightly higher than hip level, which is where they tend to sit on more modern styles.
    • Cummerbunds make for a neater profile, as they hide the billowing fabric where your dress shirt tucks into the waistband of your trousers.
  2. Position the cummerbund with the pleats facing up and out. This is the “right” way to put on a cummerbund, for the sake of both fashion and function. While they’re not usually too conspicuous, downward-facing pleats can be send the message that you’re unfamiliar with the accessory.[2]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 2.jpg
    • The pleats in a cummerbund are not just there for aesthetic purposes—they can actually be used to hold loose cash, tuck away ticket stubs, or even catch wayward crumbs at a fancy dinner.[3]
    • Not all cummerbunds have pleats. If yours doesn’t, look for a label or logo to help you get it oriented properly.
  3. Fasten the cummerbund using the buckle at the back. Guide the long strap on the left side of the cummerbund up through the open end of the buckle, then down and out through the other end. Pulling the strap will tighten the accessory, while lifting up on the buckle will loosen it.[4]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 3.jpg
    • You may need to have someone assist you with securing the cummerbund, since it can be difficult to thread the buckle behind your back.[5]
    • It’s important that your cummerbund fit properly before you head off to attend a high-profile formal event. You don’t want it to be so snug that you have trouble breathing, or risk slipping down while you’re engaged in conversation.
  4. Hide excess strap material in the interior pocket. Nowadays, most cummerbunds feature a small pocket on the back inside face that makes it easy to hide the end of the buckle strap. Simply tuck the strap into the pocket after you adjust the cummerbund to the desired fit. This may be easier if you first remove the accessory and put it back on when you’re finished.[6]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 4.jpg
    • Make sure there are no wrinkle or folds in the strap. These could start to cause discomfort the longer you wear your cummerbund.

EditPairing Your Cummerbund with Other Accessories

  1. Wear either a cummerbund or a vest, but not both. The time-honored tenets of men’s formal fashion dictate that you make a choice between one and the other for black tie events. Since both of these accessories essentially serve the same function, to conceal your waistline, the one you go with will largely be a matter of preference.[7]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 5.jpg
    • Cummerbunds are more comfortable for warm-weather events than full vests, as they cover less of your torso.
    • Wearing a cummerbund with a vest is considered a critical fashion error, as the two accessories end up competing for the same space and looking thrown together.
  2. Complete your outfit with a bowtie. Cummerbunds are traditionally worn with bow ties. The reason for this is because longer neck ties often extend down to the beltline, causing them to overlap awkwardly. Ideally, the bow tie you wear should be the same material as your cummerbund.[8]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 6.jpg
    • Don’t worry if you’re not a bow tie person. They’re also typically worn with tuxedos and similar formal attire, which means they’ll look quite natural with a cummerbund.
    • Never wear a pre-tied bow tie with a cummerbund, or with any other formal attire, for that matter. Clip-ons are easy to spot, and the last thing you want at a black tie event is to look like you don’t know how to dress yourself.[9]
  3. Avoid color-coordinating your cummerbund to your bow tie. While an all-black cummerbund and bow tie combo is the traditional norm, it’s perfectly alright to pick out a cummerbund in a subtle shade if you want to add a splash of color to your ensemble. Just resist the urge to match your bow tie or any other accessories to a colorful cummerbund. Doing so can easily make a tasteful tux look tacky and immature.[10]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 7.jpg
    • Sophisticated colors like burgundy, hunter green, and midnight blue tend to work best for livening up a cummerbund.
    • If you’d prefer to play it safe, stick to a basic black bow tie and let the cummerbund itself do all the talking.
  4. Choose a cummerbund in the same material as your jacket lapels. For dinner jackets with satin lapels, anything but a satin cummerbund (or a convincing faux-satin material) will look out of place. If your lapels are ribbed or grosgrain, you’ll want to shop for a cummerbund in a material with a similar texture.[11]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 8.jpg
    • Matching your cummerbund to your jacket lapels helps it blend into the rest of your outfit, making it appear more uniform.
  5. Wear your cummerbund over suspenders. There’s no rule that says the two accessories can’t be worn together, as long as the cummerbund goes on last. The suspenders are there more for support than style, so only the cummerbund will be visible with your dinner jacket on.[12]
    Wear a Cummerbund Step 9.jpg
    • Opt for either black or white suspenders to ensure that the color scheme of your outfit is consistent and keep from looking too busy.


  • When it comes to men’s fashion, cummerbunds are about as dressy as it gets. For this reason, they should be reserved for black tie events and special formal affairs only.
  • Cummerbunds are also a common sight at proms, cotillions, and military ceremonies.
  • Drape your cummerbunds over a hanger when you’re not wearing them to minimize wrinkles and keep them looking sharp.

EditSources and Citations

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