Black tie is the standard formal attire for a gentleman. Something that rarely changes drastically, but rather evolves subtly; the basics stay the same. Evening wear has been unchanged for many years and you must stick to certain rules in order to get it right. Yes, you will all look the same but you can tell when someone has done it properly – and that is the difference between a man, and a gentleman. It is a question of dressing appropriately, and smartly, rather than being bold and making a statement. Colin Firth, Daniel Craig and Tom Ford are some men to follow for black tie style. Here is our advice to getting the ultimate black tie wardrobe.
THE BASIC BLACK TUXEDO
You must own a good jacket; the black tie jacket is tidy, straight down the line elegance, that will never fail you. This is really worth investing in. Worn a few times a year, it will last you decades, so it is worth it being fitted properly. The small details make all the difference.
The facing material on the lapels should be a silk that matches the braiding on your trousers. This will demonstrate style and taste proving that you have fully considered every detail. The lapels should be ‘peak’ lapels, rather than notch lapels. Notch lapels are often on hired jackets, most probably due to the nature of their factory production, rather than tailor made elegance.
Traditionally, the jacket would be woollen but nowadays a mohair and wool mix works well. The back should be completely closed, although this is not practical or comfy; so should you want vents have them put in at the sides. A central one will blow open, revealing your shirt and that looks untidy. There are, however, alternative options to a black jacket that do not breach the guidelines but add something more to your outfit. Try a velvet smoking jacket – my personal favourite; it’s chic, cool, admired amongst gentlemen and allows you to wear colours- burgundy, navy, and dark green are popular choices. Modern and sophisticated, you cannot go wrong… unless you team it with velvet trousers. Don’t. The trousers should be normal black tie.
THE CHIC SMOKING JACKET
A double breasted jacket is equally smart and traditional, but you must be prepared to have it done up all night. If you un-do it, it will hang badly and look messy. Midnight navy black tie is a question many want answers to. You must feel completely comfortable wearing this colour, much like Bond, because when you step out of low light it will be rather obvious. In the right conditions, it can look very refined and special.
THE NAVY TUXEDO
Your shirt should be cream or white and silk material. The collar must be turn down as apposed to a winged collar which is for white tie dress. The bib fabric always looks stylish in Marcela, which is minute diamond shaped material that adds texture and weight to the front area. Of course, this shirt is double cuff. You will also need smart cufflinks.
THE BIBBED SHIRT
You must own your own bow tie: there is no excuse for those hideous clipped bow ties that are done for you – everyone will know you’re wearing one. Style radiates from a self-tied bow and distinguishes a gent from the rest. It is a skill you must learn. This tie could match the silk on your lapels, or you could get a different texture to add another dimension to your suit – but avoid prints and colours. Cummerbund’s are traditional but not as popular nowadays.
Trousers should be flat ironed and plain hemmed. A single braid is the norm and pockets must align with this for a neat finish. There should be no belt loops whatsoever. Braces are a great option for keeping your trousers up in a subtle and classically smart way.
Black (polished) suit shoes are a safe and traditional option. Lace up or slip on, they should not be patent nor pointy toed. The Oxford shoes by John Lobb or a plain leather loafer will do the trick. If you want to show off your taste, try a velvet slipper. Some have their initials embroidered, others stick to a simple style. Wear black socks that aren’t too thick- a silk or cashmere is appropriate for evening wear, and they will be noticed when you elegantly cross your leg over the other, reclining on a sofa with a cigar after dinner. Depending on how Gatsby you want to go a white silk scarf is a gentlemanly touch that only some will try.
THE RIGHT SHOES
TRY SOME SLIPPERS
WHAT TO NOT WEAR:
‘Hollywood black tie,’ is a suit and a tie. This does not count as formal black tie and we think you should up the style stakes.
A white jacket is rarely ever appropriate, especially not in the evening.
You must exercise caution whilst being slightly expressive. Wearing an entire arrangement that you saw James Bond in doesn’t mean you will look as good as him. Ryan Gosling can get away with most things that sadly you probably can’t…