Have you seen a James Bond movie? If so, you’ve probably noticed that he is just about always decked out in black. In fact, he usually dresses according to the black-tie dress code, which is why he is known for being the most prominent tuxedo-wearer of all time.
Black tie is a semi-formal Western dress code for evening events. In Britain, the dress code has the principal element of a dinner suit or dinner jacket. In America, the garb is known as a tuxedo. This is a two-to-three-piece suit with a satin or grosgrain jacket paired with its own unique trousers. It is worthy to note the use of the waist covering and the appropriate shirt is what makes an outfit “black-tie.”
The use of black ties or tuxedos is prevalent in the celebrity-laden higher chambers of society. However, they are also used by diplomats and even common people during formal events or special occasions.
That said, wearing a black tie or tuxedo entails using the highest quality of the suit and a perfect fit. Unlike less formal dress codes, following a black-tie dress code comes with strict guidelines. If you aren’t quite sure what the dress code entails, here’s an essential guide to wearing a tuxedo for black-tie occasions:
Let’s start with the fabric. The suit’s fabric is said to be the most essential aspect of a tuxedo. It’s quite obvious that the most common color is black, but many people are now diverging to wear midnight blue in recent years. Tuxedos can also be found in cream or off-white colors, which are more commonly worn during summer. In terms of the fabric itself, tuxedos can have either plain, non-shiny wool quality or a finer fabric. The plain tuxedo type has no patterns, but the finer fabric has a lovely sheen suitable for glamorous events.
The jacket can either be single or double-breasted. A one-button single breast is a safe, classic, and elegant option while the double-breasted style can add some ‘bulk’ to the body. Apart from the button, the jacket’s lapel also has a say. The peak lapel has that classic, formal look, while the shawl lapel is less formal but remains perfectly suitable. It’s important to note that the jacket should have a breast pocket as well as straight piped pockets (slit without flap).
Trousers traditionally have suspenders, but side-fasteners are an option as well. The front closure should be clip-only and should not contain a button. One important distinction between normal trousers and black-tie-worthy trousers is that the latter has a satin silk stripe covering the outer side seam on each leg, matching the lapel facing. It is worthy to note as well that a belt should never be worn with this type of trouser.
The Waist Covering
A black-tie ensemble wouldn’t be complete without the waist covering. The rule of thumb here is that shirt should not be visible at the waist. This, therefore, requires covering the gap between the trousers and the jacket. Tuxedo waistcoats typically will have a rounded cut with shawl lapels. However, a regular cut waistcoat is also acceptable. The use of a waist-covering, however, is now negotiable, unlike it was before. It is no longer uncommon to see people without waistcoats at black-tie events.
Finally, the shirt inside the black-tie ensemble should be plain white cotton. It should have a ‘bib’ running down to the front for stiffness to ensure the highest level of formality. The bibbed front is either Marcella or pleated (a textured pique fabric). It should also feature a turndown collar and double (or “French”) cuffs.
The Overall Dress Code
Having discussed all the parts and components of a black-tie ensemble, the next thing to do is to strictly follow the dress code. Following the dress code is a sign of respect to fellow guests. There must be a reason why a dress code has been put in place, and that is to ensure a high level of formality. You can make yourself stand out with exceptional fit and utmost quality, without necessarily deviating away from the main dress code.
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