The Low Down on The Cummerbund
This spring I was asked to wear a cummerbund to a wedding. No way, I thought. I am a men’s fashion writer and I am not an extra in Wedding Crashers. When the bride wouldn’t relent I decided I would cave but, hell to the no to Men’s Warehouse rental cummerbund. I reached out to my friend David Hart who was ecstatic to make one for me. He is a huge fan of the black tie accessory and delivered a damn good looking one with a little secret pocket, which I used for aspirin.
The waist sash originated with British military officers in India to replace the sweaty waistcoat. But they adopted it from the Afghanistan tribes who then influenced the Persians and Indians. The word comes from the Persian ‘Kamar’ and ‘band’. You can still see them sported by many military men in the French Foreign Legion as well as in the Indian and Pakistani Armies.
Since it is wedding, prom, graduation, summer social swirl time, I asked Mr. Hart a little more about this old skool waist cincher for men.
Why wear a cummerbund?
Cummerbunds are one those men’s accessories that have developed a stigma, maybe they are associated with a bad date to prom, or a cheap rental wedding tuxedo, but when given the proper attention it can be considered one of the most sartorial accessories in your wardrobe. I’ve always been a big advocate of the cummerbund for black tie dressing. A proper cummerbund will contain a pocket hidden within the pleats, which is prefect for keys, theatre tickets, cash, credit cards, coat check tickets, and most importantly condoms for your activities after your event…a cummerbund ain’t no fanny pack!
Are they worn with a specific kind of jacket or suit?
The best way to wear a cummerbund for black tie dressing is with a proper bib front piquet tuxedo shirt (studs are of course required). They also pair best with your tuxedo when you are wearing braces and a bow tie, and of course your tuxedo should have either a shawl collar or a peak lapel.
Can you wear one casually?
I’ve never tried wearing a cummerbund casually, but as I am an advocate of personal style I’m sure it can be done.