Section: Formalwear and Accessories - Blog
Do you know how to wear your black tie appropriate attire, including your tuxedo, properly? After all, anyone can wear a tuxedo, but not every man can rock his tux and make a statement. If you want all eyes to be on you, here’s all you need to know.
Dressing for a black tie event can be a stressful, even unpleasant, activity, but it doesn't have to be. After all, black-tie events are usually exciting, gala affairs. The object is to have fun without stressing over getting the "uniform look" perfect.
While your best tailor made men's suits may look good, they are meant to be worn for business and some social events, not black tie celebrations. Tuxedos are event-specific (think weddings or celebratory events), and it is this specificity that makes them so impressive. Formal dress code events do have specific guidelines, but as long as you abide by them, you can feel confident you are appropriately dressed.
A dinner jacket or a tuxedo jacket is not the same as a men's suit coat. A single-breasted suit jacket is the most widely accepted style and for extremely formal occasions, the unvented versions are the most apposite.
An unadorned “shawl” lapel, where the lapel runs in a simple ribbon from the button around the back of the neck, is the most classic style option. Peaked lapels, with upward sweeping points near the collar, are appropriate and provide added flair. However, black-tie dress code denotes understated elegance and so while they are appropriate, peaked lapels are usually not a good choice.
For most events, the simple shawl collar is the best choice, unless you have valid reasons for wearing attention attracting garments. Notched lapels are inappropriate for formalwear; avoid them.
Dinner jackets should always be black, with either satin or grosgrain on the front of the lapels. Midnight blue is also acceptable, though it is a less-common option that makes the wearer stand out. White jackets are formalwear, but they should not be worn to black-tie events as they have their own guidelines and etiquette rules for wear.
Trousers should always be made from the same fabric as the jacket, and the fabric on the seams should match the lapel facings. Single braids are the traditional seam adornment, but simple, narrow bands of fabric can be equally appropriate. Braids, however, denote high-quality formal trousers.
Cuffs interfere with the seam decorations and are not used. Formal trousers are worn with waistcoats or cummerbunds as well as suspenders. Formal trousers with pleated fronts look much better than the other varieties of formal trousers.
Formal waistcoats are not vests in the same sense as the waistcoat of a 3-piece suit. They button low across the torso, leaving the front of the shirt visible. They usually have their own lapels or are fronted with the same fabric as the jacket's lapels. “Backless” waistcoats can be fastened with a buckled strap in the back, rather than the buttons in the front.
Originally considered more suitable for casual wear, cummerbunds were confined to summer and outdoor wear. Today, black cummerbunds are as acceptable as waistcoats. The pleats on the cummerbund face upwards, while some cummerbunds have pockets hidden at the back.
The business shirt beneath a black tie jacket should always be white. Ideally, collars should be turndown, with the collar points hidden behind the bowtie, but the sharply- pointed wing collars have gained acceptance as well, even though they tend to draw attention.
Well-made business shirts should always have a doubled-over “bib” of fabric, up the front of the garment, usually decorated with narrow, double- spaced pleats. The shirt should be fastened with studs (not buttons), which should always match the cufflinks, and are usually black, gold or mother-of- pearl. Black remains the most commonly available version.
A fixed-length tie of an appropriate length is far better than a clip-on, pre-tied or adjustable model. Keep the tie proportional to your face by ensuring the ends of the bow fall between the edge of your face and the outer corners of your eyes.
The material of the tie should match the jacket's lapel facings visually.
The classic formal footwear for black-tie is patent leather pumps with a black ribbon bow at the front. While modern men may see a resemblance to women's shoes in these pumps, the purpose of black-tie is to provide an outfit suited to the occasion.
However, if you don't own these types of shoes, and you don't want to purchase them for just one or two events, wear your best dress shoes, which should be shined to perfection. Since men's formal pumps are suitable for wearing indoors, they enhance the luxury and sophistication of the formal style exuded by tuxedos.
Modern black-tie standards allow for any black, patent-leather dress shoes with simple and formal styles like the plain-toe oxfords. Regular black leather dress shoes that have been polished to a highly-reflective shine can be worn as well, especially if there are no scuffs or scrapes on them.
A white linen handkerchief should always grace a black-tie pocket, folded according to your preference. Some men prefer to slip the pocket square in and let it take its own shape, thereby adding an attractive irregularity to an otherwise uniform outfit.
However, avoid pre-made pocket squares with a permanent fold as these rank alongside clip-on bow ties as a beginner's mistake.
A boutonniere – a small flower in the buttonhole of the left lapel – is a formalwear option that may or may not be appropriate for the occasion. Only a few flowers are considered “true” boutonnieres.
Therefore, if the event is casual enough to allow a bit of personalised colour among the guests, a small, fresh flower can be a wonderful accessory to a black-tie event.
Overcoats are needed for the journeys to and from black-tie events in winter. Thus, the coat should always be dark – black, midnight blue or grey – and should not be made of artificial material like Gore-Tex or nylon that can be easily spotted from afar.
A white, tasselled scarf, also called an opera scarf, can be worn as well. A modest black hat is also acceptable with fedoras and homburgs being among the most commonly worn. Keep top hats for wearing with tailcoats (also called white tie) for providing a stylish and elegant look, and avoid stocking caps.
If you attend many black tie events, consider buying a custom made tuxedo rather than hiring one. For starters, a custom made tux fits better than a hired one will, so you'll always look like you are at the top of your game.
Next, you won't have to worry about how many other gents have worn the same tuxedo or if you can even find one to fit. Finally, there's nothing like the luxury of slipping into a perfectly fitting garment, whether it is a tuxedo, a suit or a business shirt.Stop by our Sydney showroom for a one-on-one fitting today.
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