Go­ing Al­ter­na­tive

Rules For The Modern Man - - Rules For The Mod­ern Man -

As we've pointed out, black tie has re­laxed slightly over the decades. The most notable is the use of the shawl lapel in tuxe­dos. The curved lapel was first used in smok­ing jack­ets worn by men when loung­ing at home. Its tran­si­tion into din­ner at­tire was pro­pelled by Hugh Hefner, the founder of Play­boy magazine. Fol­low­ing the en­trance of the shawl lapel, black tie has seen a few more ad­mis­sions, such as the use of vel­vet as a jacket ma­te­rial.

Colour codes have also re­laxed. To­day, deep shades of most colours from grey to green are ac­cept­able as black tie. In ad­di­tion, an al­ter­na­tive to the cum­mer­bund is the three­but­ton vest that is vis­i­ble only when the jacket is un­but­toned. Men can also dis­pense with the cum­mer­bund al­to­gether. They may choose to wear their pocket square in a more flam­boy­ant puff, and glide their feet into vel­vet slip-ons, which have be­come ac­cept­able.

One should bear in mind that when meet­ing roy­alty, one should never be less for­mally dressed than the per­son­age. Oth­er­wise, you're pretty free to rock it up.


Fixed bow ties are a cop out. A gen­tle­man who is at­tend­ing a for­mal black tie din­ner should wear a proper bow tie. If you’ve never learnt how to do this, flip the page and find out how. It’s one of those things that sep­a­rate the men from the boys.

Thereʼs a sim­ple rea­son why you should. At the end of the evening, when the for­mal­i­ties are over, you can take plea­sure in letting your hair down, loos­en­ing your bow tie and per­haps also the top shirt stud to look not just debonair and also dan­ger­ously sexy.


More of­ten seen in morn­ing dress, the cra­vat or as­cot was pop­u­larised by English dandy Beau Brum­mell. The dress as­cot, a more debonair ver­sion of the day cra­vat, can be worn in black tie with a cra­vat pin, with­out loop­ing the front of the broad tie back through the knot. Wear­ing a cra­vat is sim­i­lar to wear­ing a neck tie, but you sim­ply loop twice around the other end and bring the broader side back to the front, then pin­ning it down.


Not so much in the manner of gold chains or out­landish ac­ces­sories, but a dress watch, which pairs well with a tuxedo. Dap­per in­di­vid­u­als in our time have also donned in­tri­cate bracelets to ef­fect a per­sonal flair. A signet ring or choice cuff­links also give your suit a slight dis­tinc­tion from the oth­ers around you.


The most for­mal evening dress code in the mod­ern style book, white tie is worn at state din­ners, so­ci­ety balls and other royal events. In white tie, a wing col­lar shirt is re­quired, along with a white bow tie and waist­coat, and a tail­coat.

Pleats are not per­mit­ted on the shirt, which is fas­tened with studs. The tail­coat is never but­toned, but worn open and cut close to the body, ex­pos­ing the waist­coat that should also be cut low. The lat­ter should sit just above the front of the tail­coat. The tail bears a sin­gle vent.

Of­fi­cial dec­o­ra­tions can be worn with white tie, es­pe­cially when one is meet­ing roy­alty. Hats are also re­quired on such oc­ca­sions. Only top hats in silk are per­mit­ted. Opera pumps with black satin rib­bons are ap­pro­pri­ate, but black patent leather ox­fords are also per­mit­ted. The most tra­di­tional of out­fits, this is one that you do not mess around with.

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