[ Like tailcoats, cummerbunds are increasingly appearing outdated—as if from another age and time. But popular or not, they are never worn with double-breasted tuxedo jackets since those jackets should not be worn unbuttoned. A 21st-century gentleman who insists on wearing a cummerbund (And he would be totally justified in doing so) should be certain to position the open edges of its pleats facing upwards, a vestige from the days when evening pants did not have pockets and the upward-facing pleats were used to store theater tickets and the like. And despite trends to the contrary, where everything from ruby-red satin to Madras plaid to kente cloth cummerbunds and matching bowties are worn, “black tie” means a black tie. And cummerbunds should follow suit. (A viable alternative to a cummerbund is an evening waistcoat of black silk or the main fabric of the tuxedo. A white waistcoat made of the same fabric as the shirt, but of a heavier weight, is also permissible. Unlike regular vests, where the lowest button is traditionally left unbuttoned, all buttons of a formal waistcoat are buttoned).
The word “cummerband” has been included in the English dictionary since 1616. It is originally a Persian genitive phrase, “kamar-bandi,”combining the words “kamar”(waist) and “bandi” (band). The cummerbund was adopted by British military officers in colonial India as an alternative to a waistcoat (vest) and as a decorative covering for the belt. Eventually, by the Victorian era, the accessory had found its way into civilian use. By the 1920s the cummerbund had taken its present form—with pleats. Since the first decade of the 21st century, with tuxedos taking on the overall slimmer fit of modern men’s suits in general, the cummerbund has seen a decline as it tends to add visible bulk to a waistline which has been “narrowed” by the shorter, modern, form-fitting tuxedo jackets. On the other hand, cummerbunds, when of the same color as the trousers, tend to create the illusion of elongated legs—even if at the expense of the illusion of a shortened torso. In the end, then, cummerbunds tend to look best on tall, slender men and men with V-shaped torsos, neither body type being particularly common amongst adult males. ]