WHAT IS A ‘BLACK TIE’ DRESS CODE?

Friday - - Beauty -

Q I’ve been in­vited to an awards func­tion. The dress code says ‘black tie’. What does this re­ally mean? A Un­like its lit­eral mean­ing, black tie in this con­text means you are ex­pected to wear a din­ner jacket, more com­monly known as a tuxedo; con­sid­ered the most for­mal at­tire for a gen­tle­man.

Tra­di­tion­ally a tuxedo was made of a plain solid black fab­ric with a shawl lapel made in black shiny satin fab­ric, one satin fab­ric-cov­ered but­ton in the front and no more than three fab­ric but­tons on the sleeve. The trousers are with­out belt loops and with a 1cm satin strip run­ning along the outer side seam. This is worn tra­di­tion­ally with a black satin cum­mer­bund and a white pleated tuxedo shirt made with a wing-tip col­lar to wear a black bow-tie and dou­ble French cuffs for black cuff­links. The en­tire en­sem­ble is topped off with black studs on the shirt and black patent leather shoes, ei­ther ox­fords, brogues or whole cuts.

Over time, a few de­tails with re­gards to the tra­di­tional tuxedo have evolved, since ev­ery­one fol­low­ing the tra­di­tional rules of wear­ing a tuxedo meant that ev­ery­one looked ex­actly the same at black-tie events, with no way to show­case in­di­vid­u­al­ity.

The shirt is now com­monly worn with­out pleats and with black but­tons in­stead of studs. Some­times even the col­lar is made to ac­com­mo­date a reg­u­lar tie in­stead of a bow tie and the cum­mer­bund is re­placed with a black scooped waist­coat.

How­ever, mak­ing your­self stand apart whilst keep­ing the ba­sic tra­di­tional rules of a tuxedo in­tact is the true test of hav­ing a ma­ture sar­to­rial un­der­stand­ing. You can opt for a mid­night blue fab­ric in­stead of the reg­u­lar black one. You could also add some hints and de­tails by in­struct­ing your tai­lor to make the pocket jet­ting on the jacket to be the same black satin fab­ric as your lapel and make the top bor­der of your breast pocket in that same fab­ric as well. The lapel can be a peak lapel in­stead of the reg­u­lar shawl lapel.

If you are go­ing to win an award, opt for a mid­night blue dou­ble-breasted tuxedo with a black peak or shawl lapel and black fab­ric but­tons on the jacket, with a pair of black trousers.

The fi­nal el­e­ment that will put you at the top of the sar­to­ri­ally re­fined totem pole will be to wear a self-tied black bow-tie, re­veal­ing that you know the art of ty­ing a bow-tie, which can be high­lighted by leav­ing it open and hang­ing around your neck to­wards the end of the event.

PAWAN AND ASHISH ISHWAR are tai­lors at Knights & Lords, a be­spoke tai­lor­ing house in Dubai

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