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The State of Black Tie: Your Observations

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mafoofan, Nov 22, 2011.

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  1. trouble

    trouble Member

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    Hey gents,
    I went to a black tie dinner at a New York social club last night and wanted to share my observations. There were about 400 people, and because the occasion was sports-related, they were almost entirely male.



    peaked lapels or a shawl collar
    single button
    waistcoat or cummerbund
    patent leather oxfords or opera slippers


    There may have been a few guys wearing all of those things, but the vast majority were not. That, unfortunately, includes me.

    While it would have been nice to see more traditional attire, the only thing that grated on me was the footwear. That so many of the guest were wearing worn out, moccasin-style loafers was utterly mystifying.

    Someone observed, perhaps on this forum, that men tend to buy black tie outfits that are too similar to their everyday business suit. The prevalence of notch lapels, plain shirt fronts, and tired loafers seemed to confirm that. I hope that we can return to embracing black tie's difference from business wear instead of hiding from it.
     
  2. Persephone

    Persephone Active Member

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    Aug 24, 2012
    My husband and I just returned from Vienna, Austria, where we attended two formal balls. The time between New Year's Eve (Silvester in Austria) and Lent, a period called Fasching, is ball season in Vienna, and in those two months the Viennese manage to organise well over 300 semi-formal and formal balls in various venues.

    Having attended the Ball der Offiziere (Officers' Ball) and the Ball der Pharmacie (Pharmacists' Ball) held on two consecutive nights at the Imperial Hofburg Palace, I am pleased to report that black tie, yes, even full evening dress, is alive and well in Vienna. Of course, the Officers' Ball featured primarily military uniforms (the prize for best mess dress goes to the British cavalry officers), but several retired officers and defence ministry employees chose to come in dinner jackets or full evening dress. The Austrians and the Germans looked very good on the dance floor, but their uniforms are nothing to brag about I am afraid.

    The Pharmacists' Ball was almost evenly divided between gentlemen in white and black tie. At both events, I personally saw only a few coloured bow ties, no notch lapels, and most trouser waists were properly covered by cummerbunds or waistcoats (rarely), but as there were well over 3,000 people in attendance at each event, I clearly did not see every single person, and I am positive that there were some atrocities. Nonetheless, the difference to similar, albeit much smaller, events in the Washington, DC region was very obvious. It seems that most Viennese gentlemen own a dinner jacket, and do not need to hire.

    I also noticed that the Viennese seem to prefer wing-tipped collars, whilst my dad (Brit) always wore turn-down collared shirts with double cuffs with his dinner suit.

    Some other observations: pocket squares are popular, several men wore white gloves, top hats and cloaks on several men at Pharmacists' Ball while queued outside for a taxi. Viennese ladies and gents change shoes and bring a pair of dancing shoes in a separate bag. As a result, you typically see boots peek out from underneath ball gowns or worn with tailcoats, and rubber galoshes over patent leather slippers. Whilst this is perhaps not proper and comme il faut, it enables them to deal with snow/ice whilst waiting for a taxi, walking to the car park or the Naschmarkt for an early 4:30 or 5 am breakfast. Yes, these events typically end at 4 o'clock in the morning, and dancing makes you hungry. An early breakfast is part of the experience, and it would be a shame to ruin one's nice shoes because of snow and salt.

    P.S. Virtually everybody can ballroom dance. People tangoed, fox trotted, waltzed, jived and cha-chad accross the floor.

    Pictures from Ball der Offiziere:

    http://www.szene1.at/event/ball_der...ien_innere_stadt_18-1-2013_1-eid329364/photos

    Ball der Pharmacie:

    http://www.ballfotos.at --> click on Ball der Pharmacie --> Fotos
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. msulinski

    msulinski Well-Known Member

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    This is exactly why I prefer plain-toe balmorals (in calf, as I don't like patent leather). The cap-toe balmoral is so associated with business wear, but I feel the plain-toe does not suffer from this association, and is also sleeker (which is desirable in evening wear). I also think you can get away with wearing them to work if you absolutely had to, unlike patent leather. Wholecuts might be a viable shoe option as well, though a bit less conservative.
     
  4. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Well-Known Member

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    +1. I despise patent leather, so it is either opera pumps (good luck finding those in an 8EEE) or highly shined plain toe balmorals which is what I currently wear. Given how many people show up to black tie events in loafers, bluchers, etc., there's just no way I'd ever feel self-conscious about not having technically proper tux shoes. Everything else about my black tie rig is purely traditional and correct, which is why I don't mind replacing one shiny black shoe with a different shiny black shoe.

    I try not to wear them to the office but appreciate that I could if need be.
     
  5. Butler

    Butler Well-Known Member

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    No! :bigstar:
     
  6. OTM

    OTM Well-Known Member

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    Oslo, Norway
    Wearing black tie right now:

    4x1 shawl
    Double pleated
    Punch caps
    Button up, barrel cuff
    White cotton square

    All in all, pretty mediocre.
     
  7. EriQ009

    EriQ009 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing, Persephone. I enjoyed the images of white-tie and black tie at the ball.
     
  8. Veremund

    Veremund Well-Known Member

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    How's that working for you?

     
  9. OTM

    OTM Well-Known Member

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    Oh, thanks for asking, I am happy I have a somewhat complete rig, but I will most likely go for SB peak next time (or at least something with a higher buttoning point).

    Also bought about 15 kilos of fish last night, but that is another story.
     
  10. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Well-Known Member

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    Any chance you own a restaurant?
     
  11. OTM

    OTM Well-Known Member

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    None at present, but when I do I will frequent it in my new rig!
     
  12. trouble

    trouble Member

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    Quote: Well you would have gotten a kick out of me in my shell bals and my dad in his calf wholecuts [​IMG]
     
  13. Persephone

    Persephone Active Member

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    You are more than welcome. It was a very nice experience, and we hope to be back in 2014.
     
  14. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Well-Known Member

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    Just figured that the combo of buying a bunch of fish and a "working black tie" ensemble may suggest that ;). Or maybe you're in the mob and were putting someone to bed with the fishes?? I can certainly understand not wanting to get anything on your real tux shirt or risk losing a cufflink/stud in the mess :D.
     
  15. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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  16. GothamRed

    GothamRed Well-Known Member

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    FWIW, my PRL DB 6x2 from a couple of years ago with grosgrain facing has covered buttons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  17. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Well-Known Member

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    I was at a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in Palm Beach last night. I was actually surprised at the number of people that had a "correct" black tie outfit, probably close to half. Saw several shawl lapel jackets too. Donald Trump was the emcee and wore black wingtip balmorals and a jacket that was probably an inch too long in the sleeves. I doubt he cared.
     
  18. johnvw

    johnvw Well-Known Member

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    I was at a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in Palm Beach last night. I was actually surprised at the number of people that had a "correct" black tie outfit, probably close to half. Saw several shawl lapel jackets too. Donald Trump was the emcee and wore black wingtip balmorals and a jacket that was probably an inch too long in the sleeves. I doubt he cared.

    But, as a SF member, obviously you did. That's what matters.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  19. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Well-Known Member

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    Given who retires to Palm Beach I would imagine that this is one place you'd see a good number of correct ensembles.
     
  20. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Btw, what do you think of these? I had them made up a while ago and forgot to post them after they were finished.

    I don't wear matching cufflinks.
     
    1 person likes this.

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