These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

From the wing-collar shirt to the cummerbund, these eveningwear essentials give tuxedos a reason to live on…

The last couple of years haven’t been easy. But, as hard as it may have been for us, it’s been a lot harder for the black tie brigade. Traditionalists and tuxedo lovers have spent month after month divorced from their dinner jackets — with wing-collar shirts, bow ties and patent leather shoes left unbuttoned, unlaced and unloved in the bottom of their well-heeled wardrobes.

And yet, black tie will never die. Why? Because, despite ever-relaxing dress codes and a dearth of eveningwear events, the endangered dinner suit is pieced together using solely specialised, singular garments — items of clothing that really have no other use. So from cummerbunds to ‘horseshoe’ waistcoats, here are the six boutique, bespoke pieces that are giving black tie a reason to live on…

The silk bow tie has tied itself in knots...

First up; the notable piece of neckwear that gives black tie its name. Whether satin, silk or velvet, the formal bow tie has no real use outside of dinner-jacketed, tuxedoed circles. Grandfathers and geography teachers may be able to get away with tweedy, brushed cotton varieties and versions — but silky luxurious bow ties? Not so much.

As Turnbull & Asser says, ‘the classic bow tie is a sartorial starting point’. And the British brand’s contemporary slim silk design will see you through a lifetime of stylish soirées. New & Lingwood’s option is cut from the finest English silk satin and Emma Willis’ is created using black silk barathea — and is available in either self-tie or ready-tied versions.

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Turnbull & Asser Black Silk Bow Tie

£95

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

New & Lingwood Classic Silk Bow Tie

£55

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Emma Willis Black Silk Bow Tie

£95

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The cummerbund gets a bad (w)rap...

If the bow tie is in dire straits, then the cummerbund is really on the silk-satin edge. Bordering on extinction, this endangered accessory is an alternative to a black tie waistcoat; a broad waist sash intended to black-out any unsightly white shirt material that might out from under your dinner jacket. And sadly, if the tuxedo vanishes, it’ll have no reason to stick around.

Which would be a crying shame — because the quirky cummerbund is a perfect example of English eccentricity. Huntsman knows it; with this Savile Row-crafted satin design. But it’s not just a British favourite — with the Italian Brunello Cucinelli and the American Tom Ford also adopting the lustrous look for their black tie get-ups.

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Huntsman Black Satin Cummerbund

£210

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Tom Ford Silk-Satin Cummerbund

£310

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Brunello Cucinelli Silk Blend Cummerbund

£270

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We must step up for black patent dress shoes...

Unless you’re marching in a brass band or Trooping the Colour, you shouldn’t be wearing patent leather shoes. That is, of course, unless you’re buttoned into a tuxedo. With the highest level of high-shine, these shoes are the icing on the bottom of the black tie ensemble; but a shoe that would overstep if laced up with any other outfit.

But they undoubtedly look beautiful. So, from Crockett & Jones’ plain-fronted, lightweight leather ‘Overton’ shoes to Cheaney’s highly-polished ‘Kelly’ design, let’s give them a reason to stride another day. Even Church’s statement-making ‘Whaley’ shoes, with subtly squared toes and slivers of grosgrain, wouldn’t work with anything but a sharply tailored tux.

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Crockett & Jones ‘Overton’ Dress Shoe

£385

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Cheaney ‘Kelly’ Oxford Dress Shoe

£320

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Church’s ‘Whaley’ Patent Leather Oxford

£650

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The wing-collar dress shirt has been stitched up...

From ‘Cuban’ to ‘Cutaway’, there are plenty of different collar styles for plenty of different occasions. But the wing-collar — stiff of tip and rakish in appearance — is perhaps the rarest. Unfortunately, however, it’s already started to disappear from the face of formalwear; usurped by the simpler, more versatile ‘Spread’ collar.  And the post-pandemic lull in parties could see it off altogether. 

So let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Because, whether it’s the double cuffs of Turnbull & Asser’s offering, the slick hidden button placket of Eton’s design or the bib front of Oliver Brown’s ‘Marcella’ shirt, this is a heritage garment that we don’t want tipping into obscurity.

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Turnbull & Asser Wing Collar Dress Shirt

£275

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Eton Signature Twill Tuxedo Shirt

£165

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Oliver Brown Marcella Dress Shirt

£85

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The ‘horseshoe’ waistcoat has been laid to waste...

Like the cummerbund above, the ‘horseshoe’ waistcoat — or evening waistcoat — is another accessory that only really works when paired with a dinner suit. When else would you wear such a deep-scoop front, if not with a bib-collar shirt and a bow tie? It’s an extraneous addition, but one we consider well worth our time.

Some designs, like Ralph Lauren’s classically black version and New & Lingwood’s bright white ‘Marcella’ waistcoat, are virtually backless — with only simple waist buckles and button-neck closures in place to create an eveningwear illusion. But others, such as Oliver Brown’s, feature feature shawl collars, corded silk lapels and full back-panels.

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Ralph Lauren Silk Satin Waistcoat

£540

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Oliver Brown Velvet Evening Waistcoat

£245

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

New & Lingwood Marcella Waistcoat

£125

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Tuxedo trousers are on their last legs...

The last piece of the black tie puzzle? Save for perhaps the dinner jacket itself, the trousers are the most unique part of a tuxedo. These singular strides come with a satin strip running down their length, adding a hit of high-shine to complement those patent shoes. It’s a bold look, a timeless, traditional style — and one that deserves a renaissance.

Richard James’s trousers, trimmed with satin stripes, are cut from a lightweight wool and mohair-blend. Dunhill’s are finished with detailing in grosgrain; a stiff ribbon of silk with a taffeta weave. And Thom Sweeney’s navy trousers are tailored in a sleek taper — cut from lustrous wool and detailed with a sheened blue strip. 

These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Richard James Satin-Trimmed Wool Trousers

£325

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Dunhill Grosgrain-Trimmed Wool Trousers

£595

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These 6 pieces of eveningwear prove that black tie will never die

Thom Sweeney Satin-Trimmed Tuxedo Trousers

£495

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Want more style rules? Here’s the ultimate back-to-work style guide, with Mathias Le Fèvre…

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