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Tuxedo Cummerbunds: What are They?

Tuxedo Cummerbunds: What are They?
One of the most misunderstood parts of any tuxedo ensemble is the cummerbund. First of all, it's often misspelled as "cumberbund," since that's how it's often pronounced. Second of all, very few people are aware of the origins of the cummerbund and feel that it's completely pointless. You can debate about the merits - or lack thereof - of cummerbunds until you're red in the face, but it's not going to change the fact that they are an essential part of any tuxedo. If you're going to be attending a true black tie affair, you're going to have to acquaint yourself with this unique article of clothing.

A Brief History of the Cummerbund
Cummerbunds have their origins in India. Before the British military adopted them, they were called "kamarbands." The meaning behind the word "kamarband" is easy enough - "kamar" means "waist," and "band" means, well, "band." In India, the cummerbund was a bright and flamboyant accessory that was intended to jazz up the wearer's ensemble. As British military personnel began flooding the continent and holding lavish black-tie affairs, the tropical heat precluded the use of dinner jackets or tuxedo vests. To maintain a formal appearance, military officers began adopting the cummerbund for their own use.

How to Wear a Cummerbund
Cummerbunds are broad sashes that are worn around the waist. They serve as a transition point between the waistband and the shirt. They fasten in a number of different ways. Some of them simply tie up in the back; others buckle closed. If you prefer Velcro, you can easily find a cummerbund that uses it to stay in place. Tradition dictates that the pleats of a cummerbund should always face up. They were worn that way so that men could tuck ticket stubs and receipts into them, but they pull double duty as "crumb catchers," too.

Choosing the Right Cummerbund
Although some people say that the best course of action is to choose a cummerbund that matches your tie, purists insist that this isn't the case. To maintain a strictly black-tie look, you should choose a cummerbund that's black, midnight blue, red or maroon. Furthermore, you should only ever pair a cummerbund with a bow tie. However, veering away from any of these points can be fun as well. As strange and foreign as the cummerbund may seem, it does have its perks - it tends to make guys look taller and leaner - so wear yours with pride!

You can view more about cummerbund fashion here.

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