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Among tuxedo accessories, the cummerbund is a bit underrated compared with the all-popular waistcoat. Not because it's unfashionable, but rather because it’s just poorly understood. Wearing a cummerbund adds a subtle and colourful touch of elegance to your black tie ensemble and, as an added bonus, can actually make you appear taller and slimmer. What more could you ask for from a simple band of fabric?
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Cummerbunds and tuxedos were just meant to go together. The cummerbund elevates the formality of the tuxedo while the solemness of the tuxedo dials down the potential flashiness of the cummerbund. Cummerbunds are most often seen in a wedding setting with the men’s cummerbunds coordinating with the bridal party’s gowns. Cummerbunds make an excellent alternative to the waistcoat since its popularity tends to fall in and out of fashion on a regular basis.
The etymology of the word “cummerbund” has Persian roots - the original word being kamarbund. The anglicized version entered English vocabulary in the early 1600s. A cummerbund is simply a broad pleated waist sash worn with a formal jacket in lieu of a waistcoat. The British military adopted the look from Indian men and later, the trend spread to civilians.
Cummerbunds can be worn with the pleats facing up or down. The pleats were once employed for practical purposes to hold ticket stubs and other similar items. This earned the cummerbund the amusing nickname “crumb-catcher”. Formal cummerbunds were usually black, midnight blue, or maroon, but now come in every color of the rainbow.
The modern use of cummerbunds is purely aesthetic and simply provides a transition between the tuxedo waistband and the shirt. These wide waist accessories may, or may not, match the neckwear and/or pocket square. Cummerbunds are now widely used around the world as part of military uniforms.
If you’ve ever wanted to sport a cummerbund, but you weren’t sure how or why you should, let us help you out! Cummerbunds are mainly worn as a substitute for a vest. Vests are great, but fall out of fashion from time to time and aren’t always flattering on every shape. A cummerbund can add a dashing pop of color to your formal ensemble while giving you an edge of elegance in its understated style.
For practical reasons, cummerbunds cover the awkward bunching that occurs when you tuck your shirt into your waistband. It also conceals unsightly belt loops. As a bonus, cummerbunds also have a slimming effect and can make your legs look longer as well. What’s not to love?
Cummerbunds fasten around the back of the waist. They’re often adjustable and secure with hooks, velcro, or tied ribbons. They should be worn as an alternative to a waistcoat - never in addition to one. Pleats can be worn facing up or down, though down is more traditional. A good quality cummerbund made with luxe fabric and excellent craftsmanship is ideal for a top-notch formal look.