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Modernist-inspired alternative to the dinner suit

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've no serviceable dinner suit, and probably no time for my tailor to make one up. I don't want to buy a RTW traditional dinner suit, as I know I'd regret it. What am I to do? Any ideas for something maybe unstructured and paired down that could serve as a dinner suit equivalent? I'm looking for the evening appropriate equivalent of the early unstructured Armani suits, say. The context isn't overly traditionalist anyhow. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 17

An obvious - if slightly 90s - option would be a mandarin collar shirt plus solid dark navy (or even black) SB suit. A slightly more modern (but only up to mid-2000s at best) alternative would be the same, but with a fully buttoned-up point collar white shirt. No tie. Maybe no square.

 

In either case, the suit would need to have a simple/flat finish rather than anything too textured, in order to echo the simplicity of the shirt.

 

What I wear when I go to a dressy night-time event that's just short of black tie is either of my 2B peak lapel suits (one midnight-navy flannel, the other a purple tramline midnight-navy worsted), paired with either a solid white (the navy suit) or pale blue shirt (the tramline suit) and a dark satiny tie plus white silk square. That's not modernist at all, however.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Interesting, but I wasn't really thinking of dressing up a traditional lounge suit. I'm after something that is a set of evening clothes, but doesn't need to be tailored properly. Put it this way: RTW stuff apes bespoke, so I won't buy it. I want something decidedly, proudly industrial. Margaret Howell-style is as tailored as I'd go. I hope that makes sense!
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by radicaldog View Post

Interesting, but I wasn't really thinking of dressing up a traditional lounge suit. I'm after something that is a set of evening clothes, but doesn't need to be tailored properly. Put it this way: RTW stuff apes bespoke, so I won't buy it. I want something decidedly, proudly industrial. Margaret Howell-style is as tailored as I'd go. I hope that makes sense!

Not exactly modernist, but why not an homage to ninteenth century
Orientalist fantasy. It certinly is unstructured:

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/944x531_b/p0184khv.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCzzGWge9kI
Edited by comrade - 5/13/14 at 10:53pm
post #5 of 17

Black cashmere sweater. I'd say a v-neck, or something like a high-neck cardigan that buttons or zips all the way up. Black jeans. White oxford shirt. Black chelsea boots. Could swap in bit loafers, v-neck t-shirt, turtleneck sweater, leather jacket, white shoes, whatever.

 

Or a black linen suit, peak lapels and patch pockets, with a proper shirt and bowtie.

 

You'd be underdressed, of course. But if everyone else is in black tie, then your choices are white tie, a proper dinner suit, or some kind of being underdressed. Even Armani kept those tuxes pretty straightforward.

post #6 of 17
This has looked modern to me since the 80's





I would delete the button down and go for a semi spread. But there is an austere modern look to a very dark simple suit and buttoned up white collared shirt.
post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by pocketsquareguy View Post

This has looked modern to me since the 80's Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

I would delete the button down and go for a semi spread. But there is an austere modern look to a very dark simple suit and buttoned up white collared shirt.

 

I agree, and suggested it upthread (albeit with a point collar instead of semi-spread), but it seems like radicaldog wants something different to that:

 

 

Originally Posted by radicaldog View Post

Interesting, but I wasn't really thinking of dressing up a traditional lounge suit. I'm after something that is a set of evening clothes, but doesn't need to be tailored properly. Put it this way: RTW stuff apes bespoke, so I won't buy it. I want something decidedly, proudly industrial. Margaret Howell-style is as tailored as I'd go. I hope that makes sense!

 

I see. That is different.

 

I think you could conceivably take a working-class spin on this if you really want to go down the industrial road. I know I've seen John Hurt wearing something on a red carpet night that might work... let me see if I can google it up... yes, here we are:

 

 

Obviously, you'd have to improve each item a bit in terms of fit/design, but the concept of a black shirt, french worker's style overshirt/jacket and black trousers with black shoes (possibly black chelsea or balmoral boots), might meet your needs. If that's too dark, a white shirt instead would work well.

 

I think everyone here knows it's not at all my personal cup of tea, but if you want an industrial, modernist, not overly-tailored look, this sort of thing might fit the bill.

 

Good luck!!

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
^ That's more what I was going for -- thanks. Except that I can't claim any working class credentials. So I suppose I need a classless or upper middle class version of the above. Hmm... The relevant aesthetic is probably that of the few modernist experiments with clothing. Admittedly it's telling that the likes of van der Rohe, Gropius or Breuer dressed traditionally (though at the Bauhaus there were some nutcases with orientalist fantasies, long tunics, and insane garlic-based diets). But maybe there's a tasteful modernist dinner jacket somewhere out there. I'm thinking of something like the evening equivalent of this MH suit, possibly even less structured and more pared down:



It's hard to tell from the photo, but there are no visible seams, no canvas, and no vents.
post #9 of 17
There is no such thing as a 'dinner suit equivalent'. That is a well defined garment which is expected on certain formal occasions. Anything else will make you stand out in a way that is not good and suggest you either don't know how to dress or are too mean/can't afford to do so. It is also a slight to your host suggesting that the function does not rate the courtesy of meeting the dress code stipulated.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

There is no such thing as a 'dinner suit equivalent'. That is a well defined garment which is expected on certain formal occasions. Anything else will make you stand out in a way that is not good and suggest you either don't know how to dress or are too mean/can't afford to do so. It is also a slight to your host suggesting that the function does not rate the courtesy of meeting the dress code stipulated.

I was wondering how long it would take to elicit this sort of response. Look, there's something to be said for traditionalism, but the question I asked deliberately sets it aside. I trust my hosts to have enough discernment to recognise a contemporary interpretation of the 'black tie' dress code.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by radicaldog View Post


I was wondering how long it would take to elicit this sort of response. Look, there's something to be said for traditionalism, but the question I asked deliberately sets it aside. I trust my hosts to have enough discernment to recognise a contemporary interpretation of the 'black tie' dress code.


But the black tie dress code is not just an ethos, it is inextricably linked to a set of clothes. There is an essential set of aesthetic ideas behind evening wear, but if a social occasion requires black tie, then there is not really a social substitute. Your occasion may be laid-back enough that you can get away with breaking the rules, of course. But really, at a party, I prefer to use up what slack I have on something more fun than clothing.

 

There's not really an essence of black tie that remains when you blow off the dinner suit. Qua recondite, the actual jacket and trousers are, perhaps, less important than the white shirt and black bowtie. What about this:

 

http://www.paulstuart.com/product_info.cfm?ProdID=7885&ProdCatId=1111&MainCatId=19&HEADERMENUID=3&SUBPRODCATID=0

 

Sans vest, with white shirt and bowtie?

 

I also have to take issue with the idea that tailored clothing (invented circa 1920, dominant until circa 1980) isn't Modernist. I mean, the well-tailored members of the Bauhaus, for example, were not wearing clothes in an outdated style: they were wearing the style of their times. Does it owe a debt to older forms? Of course. The twentieth century is one in which design and art moved incredibly fast, but men's clothing evolved very slowly.

post #12 of 17

In the OP's defence, I don't think he's denying that black tie per se is a rigorous and well-regulated standard of male dress, on which only the most subtle and codified variations are possible; I think he's asking, rather, how one might allude to or invoke (so to speak) black tie on a purely indirect basis.

 

He *is* asking for an alternative to BT to be worn at an upcoming event at which, I infer, BT proper could be worn but would be perhaps considered excessive.  I don't think it's his intention to wear it to any true BT events, or to deface the currency of BT in any way.

 

It's a rather odd set of conditions.  Anything too close to BT ends up looking like the wearer either doesn't understand BT (eg. that it means dressing like he's an attendee of a Reservoir Dogs reenactment), isn't comfortable in those circumstances, or didn't have a proper outfit and wanted to try to 'blend in'; too far from BT, and the allusion is lost.

 

I like the above Paul Stuart recommendation, but my concern is that worn with a white shirt and black bow-tie, it's going to look like downgraded or haphazard BT rather than a calculated gesture.

 

What I keep seeing in my head is a black linen suit -- the jacket flapless triple-patch per the two examples above, the trousers flat, uncuffed and held by suspenders -- a white shirt sans tie, and *very* plain black shoes (wholecuts or an understated toecap) but not patent.  The reason this *might* fit the OP's criteria without looking like cut-rate BT is that it is, in essence, just a black linen suit worn casually, with only the suspenders, the clean legs, and the simplicity of the shoes hinting at anything more than that.

 

However this is done, it's s definitely walking a very fine line...

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
^ That's a good analysis. The line might indeed be too fine to be walkable.
post #14 of 17
^ That's more what I was going for -- thanks. Except that I can't claim any working class credentials.

Working class credentials? So, not only do you want to break the rules, but you want to be authentic.
Authenticity is overrated.

For years I have been striving for an "Old Money" style, yet the only Old Money that I have may be found
in my sofa cushions.
post #15 of 17

^ Nice gag, but I would disagree strongly. Authenticity is incredibly important in clothes. It's what separates us from runway models. That and the physique...

 

But seriously, whether you go for a stripped-down minimalist style or a dandy ornate one or something else entirely, you have to feel comfortable (speaking psychologically, not physically) in your clothes, I think. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to reflect your life (that's conformity or perhaps conventionality, both of which are entirely different), but they do have to reflect your personality and mindset or you will feel out of place and silly. And probably carry yourself awkwardly too.

 

Blending your appearance with your outlook is what real authenticity is, in my book, and I think it matters.

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