Originally Posted by blackbowtie
Yes, the ones I've been to in DC have usually been white tie optional, and even where the invite only says "White Tie" an overwhelming majority turns up in black tie (me included). I've been debating getting a set of white tie attire for the longest time, but have not had the courage to take the plunge. Maybe if i keep going to these balls, I should get one after all.
Also, as someone who enjoys Viennese waltz, the ultimate dream would be to go to Vienna during the ball season, and THAT would undoubtedly justify getting white tie attire (but that's presumably another thread).
I got my rig primarily from Brooks Brothers for my wedding in 2008 and have worn it to at least one event annually since. Other than the torture of pinching the front shirt stud through four layers of shirt and starched collar, the formal shirt may be the most cherished garment I own - the side vent allows you to place one hand behind the placket so that you can install the studs without wrinkling the pique, while the buttons, tabs and buttonholes let you attach the shirt, vest and pants in such a way that they all stay in place all night.
BB Golden Fleece Tailcoat with pants: $1600 on sale for $999 (currently unavailable on their website)
BB Golden Fleece Formal Shirt with detachable collar (single French cuff, stiff pique bib front): $225
BB White Formal Vest (white pique to match shirt): $175
* BB Black Patent Leather Laceups: ~ $350
* BB Black Silk Socks: ~ $30
BB white pique self-tie bow tie: ~ $50
Unknown brand white silk braces with braided loops: don't recall price; from some discount store such as Sym's
* Thomas Pink MOP formal set: ~ $250
The * items you may already have as they work for black tie as well as white. You may have a pique shirt but the BB just works perfectly.