Where, When, How
The REAL Rules
Dress codes are confusing and sometimes frustrating. What do terms like white tie or black tie really mean in today’s world and how can someone achieve these looks without appearing to be wearing a costume? Whether you’re getting married this year or simply a guest invited to a formal event, we’ve put together a brief history of men’s white and black tie formalwear and a simple guide on how to honor these traditional looks in the 21st century.
White Tie formalwear is traditionally the strictest dress code and comprised of a double breasted black tailcoat with peaked lapels, a white piqued collared dress shirt with white studs, a white bow tie, cufflinks, a white waistcoat, black pleated pants and a pair of black opera pumps. Never worn closed, what makes this jacket distinct is its high-low silhouette; the front of the jacket stops at the waist and the back extends with a curved “cutaway” skirt to the back of the wearer’s knee—accentuating the waist, making it appear slimmer. This look was worn at the most formal of events such as weddings or state dinners.
While many do not wear tailcoats anymore, the White Tie look is very achievable; most of our clients wear this look in a variety of ways, simply opting for a one button peaked lapel tuxedo or shawl collar jacket, a white piqued collared dress shirt with white studs, white vest, white bowtie and flat front pants.
Black Tie was most commonly designated as formal dinner attire. This look would consist of a single breasted, one button black jacket with satin peaked lapels, a white piqued collar dress shirt with either a plain or pleated chest with black studs or white buttons, a black bowtie, cufflinks, a black cummerbund or waistcoast, black flat front pants with a satin stripe on the outer seam and black patent leather oxford shoes. This ensemble is commonly known to us today as the “Tuxedo.”
While the cummerbund is rarely requested of us, many of our clients still have the same desires and concerns as the men of the past—to cover the abdominal area and keep things looking seamless. The waistcoat is gravitated toward as it’s a double duty piece; it not only functions to keep the area covered up, but also visually draws the eye upward, allowing the overall suit to remain seamless. Another touch that our clients always appreciate is making the waistband of the pants in a satin fabric; a feature that nods back to tradition while making the suit streamlined. Other popular requests in the torso area include adding more than one button to the jacket to help keep in the waist, selecting notched lapels or the shawl collar and other colours such as navy blue or jacquard patterned fabrics to add a personalized flare.
While it is very important to us as a haberdashery to understand dress codes and the tradition of formal suiting, we also believe that there needs to be a balance reflected within the clothing that we make between the past and today’s men’s suiting, accommodating our modern world’s trends and the unique bodies and needs of its wearers. To new traditions….