How to be a tailored black tie guy

Suppose Frank Sinatra performed in T-shirts and James Bond wore flip-flops; they wouldn't have looked anywhere near as suave and wouldn't be anywhere near as iconic as they are today. As it is, they are role models for men everywhere, teaching them that wearing a tailor-made suit is cool, fashionable, and will guarantee you the pick of the ladies!

However, these men didn't simply wear their suits for special occasions, they were everyday-suit kind of guys, making the most informal events that little bit more special. Do you envy those men who wear black tie to ‘black tie optional’ events? Do you marvel at how smart, handsome and confident they look among everyone else dressed in simple, off-the-rack suits? You can be one of those men: you just need a little guidance in order to be able to pick the right suit, and a little self-confidence to pull it off – which is where we come in…

The shirt

Traditionally, the black tie shirt is white, and can look odd in any other colour, so stick with white, unless told otherwise. The collar can be a wing collar, which is the most formal of collars and is more often worn with a white tie or bow tie; alternatively, a turn-down collar is more commonly worn with a formal black tie. The shirt should have French cuffs for cuff links, and the front should really be pleated or pique. If you will be more comfortable in a traditional front or are planning to wear a waistcoat, that’s acceptable too. Take care when wearing your shirt, and at the end of the evening, ensure you have it ready to send to the cleaners the following morning.

The dinner jacket (DJ)

The dinner jacket is normally black, but midnight blue is also quite common also. There’s a great deal of scope when it comes to choosing an appropriate style, and your tailor may make recommendations based on your physique to choose one that suits you. Common choices may be between a single or double-breasted jacket with a variety of lapel shapes. More style-oriented men may choose to have their lapels in a different material to the rest of their jacket, which is where you and your tailor can enjoy getting a little creative. Your sleeve buttons should be the same fabric as your lapels; small attention to details such as these will make a drastic difference to overall impression.

The trousers

Your trousers should match the colour and material of your jacket precisely, which is why it is important to buy both at the same time. Often, you can choose to have a single braid along the seams to match your lapel facings, but this isn’t entirely necessary. Your trousers should not pile on top of your shoes, but rest comfortably just above the laces, with one crease only. A good tailor will get this right the first time.

The waist coverings

Waist coverings are not a necessity these days, and your suit can look just as smart without them. However, your waist covering could be a cummerbund made from the same material to match your jacket facings, or a waistcoat made from the same material as the jacket. Waistcoats are only worn with single-breasted jackets, never double-breasted.

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