Tuxedo shirts are almost always worn with studs, but it's not a must. Depending on the formality of the occasion, men can have some flexibility with their tuxedo shirt accents and choose traditional studs with matching cuff links, button covers or a fly front -- a plain strip of cloth that covers the buttons -- as a shirt finish. Certain tuxedo shirt finishes, such as ruffles, look more elegant with a fly front; whereas pleats or smooth fabric are beautifully accented with studs.
The Tuxedo Shirt, Deconstructed
Tuxedo shirt fronts can be plain, pleated or ruffled and most often come in classic white. Classic tuxedo shirts also feature French cuffs: cuffs that fold over onto themselves and fasten with cuff links. Tuxedo shirts can be collarless (Mandarin collars), feature "laydown" collars -- similar to standard dress shirt collars -- or wing collars that have triangular points protruding from the top front of the collar. Bow ties are the traditional tie of choice with a classic tuxedo shirt.
Button Covers and Studs
Button covers feature a slotted disk that slides under a shirt button and an attached cover that snaps shut over it. In case of loss or damage to a button cover, the button itself keeps the shirt front intact. Traditional studs fit through button holes in the front placket of the shirt where buttons normally reside. If they're lost, there is no button to close, leaving the wearer exposed. In either case, it's a good idea to carry extras in case of loss or damage.
The Plain or "Fly" Front Tuxedo Shirt
For the man who doesn't want to fuss with tuxedo shirt studs or button covers, consider the fly front tuxedo shirt. It features a standard button-down front that's covered with a flat band of shirt cloth. The buttons are rendered invisible and the the look is is sleek, simple and elegant. This style works well with either a bow tie or traditional tie.
Busy, Plain or Just Right
Wearing tuxedo shirt studs depends on the occasion and the wearer's preference. Extremely formal occasions call for the traditional smooth or pleated tuxedo shirt with matching studs and cufflinks. A semi-formal affair allows for the wearer's creativity in choosing to wear studs or not. If the tuxedo shirt is ruffled, studs or button covers are overkill. A fly front is ideal for the ruffled style. If a traditional tie is an option, opt out of wearing studs, as they'll be covered by the tie.
Shelley Moench-Kelly is a writer and editor whose clients range from L'Oreal and www.Makeup.com to the McGraw-Hill Companies and FIDM. She has interviewed notables such as Dr. Andrew Ordon of “The Doctors” and the legendary Vidal Sassoon. Her first book, "Egg," is slated for release in 2016.