From the Duke Of Windsor in the Thirties to James Bond in Skyfall, black tie remains the standard for formal attire - which means it is essential to get it right.
The tuxedo, also known as a dinner jacket, is notorious for being the trickiest part of menswear to master. In the historic past it was an outfit that was frequently worn, an outfit to take a great deal of pride in. However, nowadays it seems as though putting on a tuxedo for a black tie event is a huge chore and something that many men rush. Seemingly disinterested in what they are wearing because they believe that they will just look the same as everyone else in the room with a black jacket, black trousers, a white shirt and a black bow tie.
This is not the case; the tuxedo is one of the most masculine outfits you can wear. By following just a few golden rules, and adding on some extra individual details if you so desire, you can turn from looking like a schoolboy at a sixth form prom to a grown up man at a black tie event.
Golden Rules for Black Tie:
It’s All About The Fit
If your black tie fits you well it will make a massive difference as it will show that you know what you’re doing. You don’t want to look like you’ve borrowed your dad’s jacket or the guy who looks like his jacket shrunk in the wash. Here are a few pointers:
- The Shoulder – the sleeve of your suit should sit right where your arm meets your shoulder. If it is too high or too low the material will wrinkle on the sleeve or at the top of the jacket.
- The Jacket Closure – the button of your jacket should close without strain and there should be no wrinkles around the closure.
- The Shirt – you will almost definitely take off your jacket at some point so keep the shirt slim fitting to avoid ballooning at the waist. The shirt should also not billow around your sides but should be a straight line from your armpit downwards. Shirt cuffs should end in the dip on your wrist where your thumb begins.
Don’t Deviate Too Much
Black tie has a well known basic structure so it’s important not to deviate too much. This means no trainers or t-shirts to try and make your black tie look cool or different; you may end up looking immature and stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Keep Your Accessories Understated
This means subtle and simple. A black leather watch, muted cufflinks and simple black shoes will never fail you. If you want to add an individual touch, then think about getting a pocket square. A white one will always look classy and take your outfit up a notch, though if you do experiment with colour, make sure it’s not too extravagant or it may look out of place.
Make sure that the fabric of your tie or bow tie matches the fabric of your suit’s collar; i.e. velvet for velvet etc. Also make sure that your tie is black; leave the fancy colours at home. However, if you crave something a bit off-beat then try a black and white tie in stripes or dots or a polka dot bow tie.
Make Sure Your Shoes Are Shiny
It is pure laziness to neglect to shine your shoes. If they are scuffed, then they will detract from all the other effort you’ve put in. (Seriously, it only takes 5 minutes…)
Additional things to consider:
Velvet – Few fabrics in the world ooze the sophistication and class of velvet. If you can pull it off, then velvet instantly catapults your look from well dressed to stylish. However, make sure only the jacket is velvet and not the trousers as well.
Alternative Colours – A black tuxedo is the traditional option but a midnight blue or navy variation can offer an alternative without being too different.
All-White – A brave man’s option. Make sure you wear it with black suit trousers and try and get a dress shirt that has black linings to stop it blending completely into the jacket.