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Advice: "Black tie with a spark"?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I've looked through the archives and haven't found this addressed, so I'm going to ask here:

I'm attending a charity fundraiser in NYC tomorrow night. The dress code is described as "Black Tie with a 'Spark'". This isn't uncommon in the city -- I see invitations for "Creative Black Tie" regularly. While I know that's a bit of an oxymoron according to the traditional rules, there it is.

So the question is, what have you worn or would you wear to fit with that dress code?

Below are an idea or two I've had. Please critique, amend, or ridicule, although do keep in mind that like it or not, this is a common dress advisory for events, at least in New York. I've never quite known what to do with it. As this is problem I face with some frequency, earnest consideration of the matter will be welcome.

1. Silver satin four in hand, matching pocket square. If I wear this, do I have to wear a vest? I get very warm in those. Would a cummerbund look atrocious? Is there a third way?

2. Bow tie and matching cummerbund in a color other than black. I have lovely sets in both gold and maroon from Paul Stuart, received as a gift a couple of years ago.

3. Different color shirt. Have a couple of shirts with patterns in the bib only which vaguely suggest a tuxedo shirt. Neither are designed to go with a tie, however. Would open collar be horrendous? At first blush, this seems like the worst idea of the three to me.

What do you think of these? Are there other black tie variations you can think of that would be better?

Thanks in advance. Bombs away...
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanddog View Post
1. Silver satin four in hand, matching pocket square. If I wear this, do I have to wear a vest? I get very warm in those. Would a cummerbund look atrocious? Is there a third way? 2. Bow tie and matching cummerbund in a color other than black. I have lovely sets in both gold and maroon from Paul Stuart, received as a gift a couple of years ago. 3. Different color shirt. Have a couple of shirts with patterns in the bib only which vaguely suggest a tuxedo shirt. Neither are designed to go with a tie, however. Would open collar be horrendous? At first blush, this seems like the worst idea of the three to me.
1. is awful, just awful. The matching pocket square is the rotten cherry on the spoiled whipped cream on the freezer-burned ice cream. No four-in-hands with black tie ever, no matter what. 2. Maroon is not the worst color for black-tie accessories, though the average person won't understand why this is a spark. 3. doesn't have much promise. I would suggest perfectly conventional black tie with ridiculous socks. Bright red, lime green, hot pink, or if you're feeling really wild: http://www.sockdreams.com/_shop/page...ductID_223.php People may ask what your "spark" is when you're standing up--this gives you the great pleasure of subtly raising one trouser leg.
post #3 of 26
I personally would probably wear my standard black tie with a much bolder than normal pocket square, possibly made of electricity.
post #4 of 26
post #5 of 26
The key to the 'spark' is a splash of red. Like so http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SxMEBjuojY
post #6 of 26
You know, I'm really coming to hate these interminable efforts to "liven up" black tie. It's not like everyone is constantly wearing classically-styled tuxedos everywhere such that special events need to be organized to get people to loosen up. As far as I'm concerned, if you really want to do "black tie with a spark" try doing "black tie properly done."

Nonetheless, this is not what the sadly misguided organizers have in mind. If you really want to comply with this, I suggest either a) Faultless evening dress with an outrageous flower in your lapel, or b) Faultless evening dress with a white sequined pocket square. The latter alternative might not even look completely terrible.
post #7 of 26
Put a sunflower in your lapel. Eat the seeds while mingling.
post #8 of 26
Perhaps this bowtie:



In action:




- B
post #9 of 26
Fill the pear with champagne rosé, of course.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdl203 View Post
Fill the pear with champagne rosé, of course.

Nivea aftershave lotion is also good.


- B
post #11 of 26
Step 1: dress in proper black tie attire, done well.

Step 2: buy a "sparkler" and stick it in your chest pocket with the linen pocket square.

Step 3: when at the event, light the sparkler and hold it aloft.
post #12 of 26
post #13 of 26
Use accessories to give you a spark. As others have said, colourful socks or a more elaborate than usual boutonniere work well, as would an interesting pocket square. There's no need to mess with the traditional shirt, bowtie or suit to add a spark, and it looks far more elegant to dress appropriately then add a touch of flair than to pursue the spark to the extent that you end up looking like you don't know what black tie is.
post #14 of 26
I would go with a black bow tie and a more "creative" cummerbund. Perhaps something like this one from Ben Silver:



Do NOT wear the matching bow tie. Bow ties and cummerbunds should not match unless they are both black.
post #15 of 26
My first thought would be blue velvet jacket with white pocket square. But I don't know if you have one of those. Since I don't know what you DO have, I'll just suggest that you NOT --wear a long tie with a cummerbund. --match your pocket square to your tie --or match your tie to your cummerbund.
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