Wearing black tie is an exercise in understated elegance. A tuxedo is not a particularly “flashy” outfit by design, which can be confusing for some due to internet #menswear’s focus on peacocking. Black tie, however, is not an occasion to push the boundaries. While there is certainly room for individual style in the way that the tux is worn, and there are now more acceptable variations in what is a very rigid code, wearing a tuxedo well is all about the details: are the elements correct? Is the fit perfect? If so, there’s a very good chance you’ll look great. And, if you are accompanied by a female companion, her outfit will stand out all the more. Here, we’ve detailed a black tie outfit that treads between the traditional and the modern for an ideal blend of elegance and convenience. Let’s go over the elements below.
This is about as classic a tuxedo as you can find, and the details are correct: the jacket has a single buttoning point, has no vent, and boasts a structured shoulder and silhouette. We’ve foregone braces in favor of trousers with side tab adjusters, for the sake of a slightly less complicated and more forgiving setup. Both jacket and trousers will require the hand of a good tailor to make themfit you perfectly, as is the case with almost all tailored clothing.
In this case, alterations are worth it, since tuxedos are not generally something one collects, and one perfect set-up will last a lifetime.
We’ve chosen a pleated bib front shirt with a spread collar (the appropriate collar choice for black tie) as well as a button-out placket, meaning you can choose to wear it with or without studs (we suggest with). The bib extends to the bottom of the shirt, meaning it can be worn without a cummerbund for a look that is still elegant without verging on the precious.
It’s no secret that we are huge fans of affiliate Vanda Fine Clothing’s hand-made neckwear. This black satin self-tie bow tie is the perfect accompaniment for the satin peak lapels on the jacket, and will be the only tie you need for decades of elegance.
Here, we’ve made another slighest of breaks from tradition, and chosen a high-sheen wholecut oxford over a patent shoe. While not quite as formal as an evening pump, an oxford is certainly acceptable, as well as a bit more forgiving for the wearer. We’ve chosen Carmina’s wholecut as it has a narrow waist and a slightly chiseled toe, and the absence of side seams elevates it above a standard oxford.
Don’t overlook studs and cufflinks when finalizing your ensemble. This is an opportunity to add some personality to your final appearance, but that does not mean that it is an excuse or occasion for gaudy jewelry. Onyx and mother-of-pearl are both acceptable, as are gold and silver. Just make sure that you’re not mixing styles.
If you’ve nailed the list above, you’re sure to be a hit at your holiday black tie affair – or wherever your tuxedo takes you.
You’ll note that we’ve foregone braces, a cummerbund, and a pocket square. While a square is not required, should you prefer to wear one, we suggest crisp white linen. We also recommend that your forego a timepiece – even if you have a dress watch, a black tie event is an occasion for socializing, and not for worrying about the hour. Where else do you have to be?