How to Dress Black Tie

‘What I really need is a, uh, tuxedo,
say three buttons, size 48 regular,
a white dress shirt,
I'll try the blue as well,
and a black vernice shoe
in a size ten. And two Advil.’
‘You speak Prada?’


We may not have seen the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic by choice but we may have been forced into watching it. One of the film’s most memorable scenes, that stands out to me, is when Luke Brandon (Hugh Darcy) is dragged into Prada to look for a tuxedo, and gives a “straight-to-the-point” request. Rebecca Bloomwood (Mia Fischer) responds with the infamous quote: ’You speak Prada?’. But how can we walk into a store like Prada and know exactly what it is that we’re looking for? 


Ian Flemming has also taught us a lot. Most importantly, he taught us how to seduce women and how to dress in black tie attire; often doing both at the same time through his alter-ego protagonist, character James Bond. The flirtatious MI-6 spy, whose wardrobe consists mostly of Savile Row bespoke suits and formalwear.

The tuxedo, the formal suit, was invented by Henry Poole & Co. by placing black satin on the lapels of a dark suit, featuring satin along the outseams to polish off the overall look . The suit was worn by British aristocrats that would vacation in the renown high society, planned community of Tuxedo Park in upstate New York, where it proceeded to get it’s name. That precedent would go on to become an essential and classic garment revered by Sartorialists ever since. 

Tuxedos come in either a shawl lapel, or a peeked lapel; if someone tries to convince you to buy a notched-lapel tuxedo, leave the store in a fit of rage. Both the shawl and the peek lapel are such sharp, and clean touches to the tuxedo that a notch lapel will never match. The classic tuxedo shirt has a wing-tip collar that reveals the bowtie around the back of your neck, the collar is folded down behind the tie. The substitute collar for tuxedo shirts these days is a military collar, a regular spread collar that will not reveal the bowtie around the back of the neck. The tuxedo trouser will usually not have belt loops, instead it’s replaced by a clean satin waistband; the notion is that when wearing a tuxedo, if needed, there are buttons for braces just inside the waistband.


The popularization of the white dinner jacket was aided by Ralph Lauren when he clothed the movie The Great Gatsby in the 70’s. You will not often find it in a white, rather in a cream. The off-white colour helps keep it separate from the white shirt being worn under it and helps smooth and tone down the overall appearance when paired with a dark, black pant. It should always be paired with a black tuxedo pant, with a black satin strip down the outseam of the trouser, ideally matching the texture of the satin composing the bow tie. One small detail that can help set you apart from the rest to keep in mind is the bow tie, and if you know how to tie it, make sure you get a self-tie bow tie you can tie yourself; if not, learn how to tie one. A tied bow tie will always look much better than a clip-on.

Smoking jackets tend to usually be jacquards or velvets, they can be loud, flamboyant and in the eyes of the right female, sexually attractive and appealing. This is where your creative innovation is going to set you aside from everyone else at the event you’re attending. It will keep you looking like the classiest and well-mannered gentleman in attendance. At the 2017 Met Gala honouring Rei Kawakubo, we saw the smoking jacket done beautifully by multiple attendees, Dolce and Gabbana, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren were the authors of these outstanding looks. Ralph Lauren, known for his impeccable shawl lapels and Tom Ford, with his wide peak lapels both and Dolce & Gabbana, with their embroidered latches are no strangers to the smoking jacket game. Worn also with a tuxedo pant and a comfortable quilted, velvet loafer, nothing screams luxury louder than an opaque velvet look at a black tie event.



Author: Timothy Hanchett
Media: TOM*

1 comment

Great article! Open a store in Manchester!!!

Sartoria December 17, 2018

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