A Fashion History of Cummerbunds

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A cummerbund is an excellent addition to a black tie outfit. It is a type of pleated fabric sash, often made from silk or velvet, that ties or clips shut at the back. They are worn over the top of the trousers and the bottom of the shirt, underneath a traditional dinner jacket.

Many gentlemen choose a cummerbund rather than a waistcoat with a formal suit. They are available in a whole range of colours and styles. Black cummerbunds look very classic and sophisticated, but they can also be effective in a contrast colour, or even in tartan. When a contrast or tartan cummerbund is worn, it’s often paired with a matching bow tie.

The cummerbunds that are worn today in Western countries are directly descended from the kamarband worn by gentlemen across South and East Asia. The name cummerbund is an Anglicised version of kamarband.

The kamarband originated in ancient Persia and has been worn across Asia ever since. The kamarband features in military uniforms as well as civilian attire. The cummerbund came into being in the 1600s when British military officers in colonial India adopted the style.

The officers began wearing their cummerbunds as part of formal military attire, often for ceremonial parades and dinners.

As the cummerbund became more popular and widespread in the military uniform, it began to spread to civilian wear, too.

Today, cummerbunds are an entrenched accessory for formal events. They are regularly worn with dinner jackets, formal trousers, dress shirts and bow ties. A cummerbund is the ideal accessory for black tie events such as award ceremonies, balls or formal dinners.

Would you like to learn more about the history of gentlemen’s fashion? Take a look at our blog posts on the history of blazers, the history of ties, or the history of braces.