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"Black Tie Casual"

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
Having posted enough garbage in the last half hour to make this my 2,000th post, let me now explain the title and purpose of this thread. While "business casual" is much maligned, many well-dressed men are able to navigate the casualization of business attire without completely losing touch with the sartorial tradition of tailored clothing. I'm not talking about the guy over there in an untucked polo, khakis, and black sneakers. I'm talking about the guy with a casual sport coat, an OCBD without a tie, some chinos or flannels, and some well-made classic footwear. Which must be brown (hat tip to foo.gif). Very loosely speaking, this is kind of a still more casual version of English country daywear.

I don't think the same vocabulary exists within evening wear. Traditional evening wear is black or white tie. I'll leave white tie aside completely. But what does black tie have to do with what is worn in the evening today in situations where neckwear would be inappropriate? At clubs we see the hated suit with no tie, sometimes even with a black dress shirt. Elsewhere at bars we see no jacket at all, which is too much of a departure from tradition to maintain any continuity.

So what I'm trying to do here is come up with fits that maintain some of the elements of black tie, but without people around you asking "why are you so dressed up?" or "are you wearing a tuxedo?". It is simply a fact of modern life for most of us that we find ourselves in these situations frequently. I will leave to other threads to what degree it might be desirable to thumb our noses at modern turpitude and wear a tie, or even a dinner suit, anyway. It is certainly not my intention to argue that what is presented here is an improvement on black tie. It is merely an attempt at a compromise to bring some of the elegance of black tie to modern environments.

So, the rules for fits in this thread:

- No one should look at you and ask "why are you wearing a tuxedo?" or even "is that a tuxedo jacket"
- No neckwear. Again, I just don't want to fight this battle in this thread. But as I'll explain, it will be clear that this is not something you wore to work, and therefore have no "excuse" for a tie. And nobody else where you're going will be wearing a tie. So let's just suppose you're the kind of person that doesn't want to be the only one wearing a tie when it's clear that you dressed specifically for this occasion.

My conception of black tie:

Black tie is for social situations. It is for relaxing, having a good time, drinking, dancing, and otherwise making merry with friends. It is NOT for work or business. It is louchey. As I consider shiny, sheeny ties to be far too garish for office wear, sheen on the level of the satin lapels of a dinner jacket or bows of an opera pump, or even on a white silk pocket square or evening scarf, or the velvet of a smoking jacket, to be solely for evening wear. So that's what we're going for here. These should be outfits that you could NOT wear to work. They are specifically for play.

Suggestions to grab some of the elegance of black tie without looking overdressed:

- White shirt only
- Take inspiration from odd jacket/trouser combinations in traditional black tie
- Evening footwear. Highly polished calf, black or navy only. Evening slippers or Belgians, velvet or suede (again only black or navy in the suede). Exotics can work too if that's your thing, since they shine. If your shoes have laces, consider swapping the factory ones for some silk flat laces.
- Evening socks.

Examples:

Fit 1:

- deep blue velvet jacket
- white shirt
- white silk square
- black trousers
- wholecut stingrays (picture of them is phenomenally shitty...they're black not green, and give off a nice luminescence in evening light...also I just got some evening laces that I meant to put on before this picture, but forgot)
- evening socks (dark blue cotton/silk pick and pick...trying to keep any brands/shopping links out of this post, but if you want details, ask)





Add a black or midnight blue bowtie, french cuffs and a stud set, and a waist covering and some braces, swap the shoes for well polished plain black calf wholecuts or some patent leather, slap some satin facings on the jacket, and it's a fully acceptable black tie rig. Certainly it's not something you'd ever wear to the office.

The waist covering is a tough thing to overcome. There's no way to wear a cummerbund or an evening waistcoat casually. There are only two solutions I can think of, and this first might not be a solution. You could buy trousers or have them made with a silk-finished waistband. I think this is sufficiently unobtrusive that you could get it past people without comments. But I am not sure, as I own no such pants. Indeed I'm not even sure I've ever seen them in person. The second is easier, and is the traditional method of avoiding a waist covering which is to wear a double-breasted jacket:

Fit 2:

- linen DB cream jacket
- white shirt
- black with cream dots square (kind of unsure about this)
- same black trousers
- blue suede belgians
- evening socks again, again cotton and silk, this time with a black/white pattern





Same adjustments as before, except no need for a waist covering or lapel facings, and you've got something that could go for summer black tie.

So that's black tie casual for me. What is it for you?
post #2 of 97
Thread Starter 
I meant to add too - these trousers, while black, aren't really black tie trousers obviously. So that's another change you'd have to make to get to a real black tie outfit. I'm toying with the idea of having made some black tuxedo trousers, finished with a silk band, for the purpose of these types of situations. I'm just still unsure how much it would stick out.
post #3 of 97
Black velvet coat (peak lapels, side vents)
Black prince Albert slippers with motif
Black raw denim jeans (fit here is important)
White high-collared dress shirt with hidden button placket
Silk square
Glass of Scotch

My first choice would be to change everything black out for midnight blue, but hey.

A couple of years ago you could easily find me in my neighborhood wearing this, complete with glass of Scotch.
post #4 of 97

I like the look of #1 better than #2. #2 would work better if the jacket was not wrinkled and it was before 6pm.

post #5 of 97
I sort of like #2, but not the shirt - you need French cuffs, and the collar is too high.
post #6 of 97
Thread Starter 
Yes, that shirt is shitty, but not really because the collar is too high. French cuffs I go back and forth on here. Yea, it fits in with the black tie vibe, but then you're not wearing a tie, so perhaps the French cuffs stick out too much. I'll leave it up to your own judgement.

The DB is linen, so it's going to be wrinkled much of the time. This never really bothers me. But it it bothers you, get yours in a different fabric. It gets worn a lot before 6 but certainly not with these pants.
post #7 of 97
Quote:
So what I'm trying to do here is come up with fits that maintain some of the elements of black tie, but without people around you asking "why are you so dressed up?" or "are you wearing a tuxedo?".

These two goals seem to be at cross purposes.

It seems that you looking for something to wear to evening events that a) is not as formal as a tuxedo b) is not going to be mistaken for an office suit and c) is not as casual as a t-shirt and jeans. It's a good goal but I think that reaching it by incorporating elements from tuxedo/black tie wear is hard to do without sticking out. However I'll bite. biggrin.gif

One way might be to use midnight blue for jacketing - it's typically too dark to be considered CBD and is associated with black tie. Also something with peak lapels, again to differentiate it from 95% of office suits. So you can go midnight blue double breasted suit with peak lapels. Or maybe a midnight blue sports coat with peak lapels - single or double breasted? - I don't have much experience with single breasted jackets with peak lapels.

For trousers, if you are not going with a suit, something basic - dark grey, since it will be at night.

For shoes, I'd go black - again since it's at night - but a more casual model, like a blucher wingtip.
post #8 of 97
Thread Starter 
Wearing a suit without a tie usually looks cheezy. And unless it's in a very evening-specific fabric, with some silk in it maybe or mohair, it will look like you just took off your tie on the way home from the office.

The jacket I'm wearing in the first pic is peak-lapeled, for exactly this reason.

No, no wingtips. Blucher wingtips are the exact opposite of what you want. No one will ever think you're "dressed up" because of your footwear, except perhaps if you're wearing patent leather. Use the opportunity for something elegant, louchey, and clean, as formal footwear should be. Blucher wingtips are the exact opposite of all of those things.
post #9 of 97
Thread Starter 
Also, FWIW, I've worn the above two combinations out a few times now and have never been asked why I'm so dressed up, much less why I am in a tuxedo. This is going out to bars, restaurants, and the like. I have been asked how I could possibly wear velvet in the summer heat though shog[1].gif
post #10 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

No, no wingtips. Blucher wingtips are the exact opposite of what you want. No one will ever think you're "dressed up" because of your footwear, except perhaps if you're wearing patent leather. Use the opportunity for something elegant, louchey, and clean, as formal footwear should be. Blucher wingtips are the exact opposite of all of those things.

Hmm, good point, maybe a black three-eyed derby, like that C&J model... Ainstree?

Anyway, agree peak lapel is a good way to go.

I will have to think about single breasted vs. double breasted. I get the feeling that the SF policy on this would be that tieless looks better with a single breasted rather than a double breasted, but peak lapels looks better on a double breasted rather than a single breasted.
post #11 of 97
Thread Starter 
G&G Sinatra would be a fantastic evening shoe - it's a wholecut. Leffot has it on pre-order right now, I am strongly considering.

On peaks, absolutely nothing wrong with a peak lapel on a single-breasted jacket, especially if it's velvet like this one.

So far as I know, there are really only two kinds of classic DB odd jackets: navy blazer and cream linen, and the cream linen significantly less so. Not that various style icons with good taste haven't worn other kinds of DB odd jackets, but beyond those two you're in the realm of experimentation. Either is OK tieless IMHO.
post #12 of 97
Thread Starter 
The other issue is shirt collars - many maintain that only BD collars are OK without a tie. That may be true, but I think a BD collar in the evening is a greater sin.
post #13 of 97
Thread Starter 
On the topic of shirts, I'm thinking of experimenting with silk evening shirts like this one:

http://www.permanentstyle.co.uk/2011/10/silk-evening-shirts-at-emma-willis.html
post #14 of 97
i gotta say dude, this is a fail thread. Your outfits simply don't seem coherent or flattering
post #15 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

i gotta say dude, this is a fail thread. Your outfits simply don't seem coherent or flattering

Explain and/or propose other solutions to stated problem.
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