You went to prom. Maybe twice. But you rented a tuxedo from a men’s store that you received a coupon for in the mail; the salesmen smelled like cigarettes and treated you as if you had never paid attention to how you looked - ever. Well you’re growing up now, and you need to know what it means to bring it for a black tie event. If there’s one time a year that a man should look his absolute best, it should be when you slip on a tux. Oh yea, and black tie means tuxedo - no exceptions.
After reading this post, you will see that I am a traditionalist when it comes to black tie attire. I am all about pushing the envelope, but when you are wearing a tux, classy and understated is more stylish than flashy.
My ideas on black tie connect back to the original purpose of a tuxedo - to keep everyone’s attention on your date’s stunning dress. That being said, we don’t need to see you in a matching vest to notice your date’s beautiful coral-colored dress. Save the matching vests for the high school prom .
So there are a few things you need to know about tuxedoes in particular. First let’s start with lapels:
I consider peak lapels to be the most traditional, elegant, and dashing. Appeared on the original tux in 1886.
(Jean Dujardin of The Artist)
A sharply-dressed Ryan Reynolds
Definitely the James Bond lapel. James Dean wore it too. You’d be in pretty good company if you asked me…
Colin Firth. With a smile.
You’ll never catch me in a notch lapel tuxedo - it just reminds me too much of a business suit. That being said, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And if you are insistent on a long tie, wear one with a notch.
What would a post on black tie be without Mr. Clooney?
Rule 1: Learn how to tie a bow tie.
Rule 2: Wear a bow tie.*
Rule 3: Make sure the size of the bow tie is in proportion with your lapels.
Rule 4. Your tie, with a tuxedo, should always be black. White tie is something completely different…
*If you do want a long tie, keep it slim. But how often do you get to wear a bow tie?
The Ten Commandments
1. There is much debate over cummerbunds. You can’t go wrong with one or without one. That being said, they look better on those who are vertically gifted. Suspenders look good on everyone.
2. Cufflinks should be silver and understated. Tuxedoes are dressy - leave the novelty lock and key cufflinks for any old day.
3. Flat-front pants look sharp, but pleats will let you break it down on the dance floor. And what girl doesn’t like the guy who puts himself out there with dance moves. As the GQ style guy says, “If you plan on vigorously doing the twist, or the monkey, or break-dancing, you might be better off with the pleated pants and their ass-forgiving engineering.”
4. Studs amp up the classiness of any tuxedo shirt. Wear them if you can (like Mr. Lautner here).
5. Your pants should be tailored and not too long. However, the super short tailoring of some of your chinos is not for the timelessness of a tuxedo. A little bit of break is more than acceptable.
6. Black socks, always.
7. Patent leather shoes are not necessary, but any shoe worn must be clean and polished.
8. If you can afford a second tuxedo (I’m not included here, don’t worry), buy one in midnight blue. You will be the sharpest guy in the room.
9. Vests can be worn, but I personally feel as if they mess up the proportions between your white shirt and dark jacket. Proceed with caution.
10. Most importantly, black and white is your safest option. Matching looks dumb, and the focus should always be on your date’s attire. James Cameron looks silly here.
When it comes down to it, you are dressing up to have a good time. Whether you are attending a wedding, fraternity formal, bar mitzvah, or killer after party, a simple and sharp tuxedo will go a long way. And remember, enjoy yourself and live a little. Let the drinks keep flowing and have fun; God invented dry cleaners for a reason.