ItÍs not too often that you see a man sporting a colorful swath of fabric around his waist; that is, unless heÍs performing under the big top, trekking through a Middle Eastern desert or, perhaps in your near future, walking down the aisle in a wedding ceremony. In the Western world, the ñcummerbundî is an accessory to menÍs clothing that is most often worn with a tuxedo at formal events.

The first cummerbunds worn by Europeans were part of the British military uniform during time spent in India and were inspired by the bright scarves tied around the loose tunics worn by indigenous men. Entomologically speaking, the word ñcummerbundî has roots in the Persian language, translating into ñto enclose the waist

The pleats on the cummerbund also have a back story. In India, men used the cummerbund more for function than for fashion, pointing the pleated front upward to serve as cargo area for small items. In todayÍs formal dress, the cummerbund is simply a statement of style, so you donÍt have to worry about which way to orient the pleats. But, itÍs nice to know that you could point them up and stash away your credit cards, to-do lists and even to hide the brideÍs wedding ring.

If youÍre heading to opening night at the opera or some other black-tie society event, youÍll most likely see plain black or white cummerbunds worn with tuxedos. However, at weddings, grooms often like to express their individuality by wearing a colorful cummerbund that matches the bridesmaid dresses, an alma matter school color, or even prints of paisley, plaid and polka-dots. Give your formal look even more flair with a matching bow tie and pair off dashing engraved cufflinks punctuating your French cuffs. Perfect as groomsmen gifts, too _ you can give all the guys a formal makeover.