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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. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  2. rs232

    rs232 Well-Known Member

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    Vox & Holdfast, is it then all about translating occasion into dress? And not the inverse? And hence, what does the decline in formality of dress say about occasions?

    Surely dress plays some part? It seems to me that what Holdfast hints at is that perhaps dress, and all that it represents, just isn't as important these days?
     
  3. Lensmaster

    Lensmaster Well-Known Member

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    I hear lamenting that there is no where to wear black tie. There is if you look for a reason. There are certainly places and times I would not wear a tuxedo. But I live in a small city in Michigan and I wear it several times a year. I wear it to performances of the local orchestra. Rarely, except for some attempts at a formal look for the Christmas concert, is anyone else wearing a tuxedo, but I feel properly dressed. I used to work for a radio station and went to the company Christmas parties in a tux. On New Years Eve I wear one even if I'm going to a local neighborhood bar. And I keep trying to think of other good reasons to wear black tie.

    There is a resurgence in formal dressing. Not as big a comeback as business suits in the work world. The biggest indicator I've noticed is the Academy Awards. The seventies started a long period of "I'm going to wear what I want no matter how bad it looks." But in recent years most men at the ceremony have been wearing tuxedos and making an attempt to do it right.

    Price is often cited as the reason for black ties demise and the reason individuals give for why they don't wear it. But today with the internet price isn't a factor. My first tuxedo, complete wit all accessories to wear it correctly, cost me $80.00 on Ebay. I had to find all the pieces but it only took a couple of months to find a good deal on everything I needed. Now I have both shawl collar and peak lapel jackets as well as both turn down and wing collar shirts.

    Notch lapels have been around since the beginning of the tuxedo but never in great numbers because, as stated before, shawl collar and peak lapel are more formal looking. So notches aren't wrong. Today purists would say that white waistcoats and top hats are too formal for the tuxedo. But in the thirties both were seen with black tie at times. Anyone can afford and find reasons to wear black tie if they wish. If anyone wants to learn how black tie developed and guidelines for wearing it look at the earlier linked Black Tie Guide.
     
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  4. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  5. MikeDT

    MikeDT Well-Known Member

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    Don't Brooks Brothers do a complete range of black-tie outfits and accessories(including pumps)? I know my father needed a tux for a cruise a few years back, Think he just went to the local Marks & Spencer for it, as he didn't want to spend too much on something that was only going to get used for a couple of weeks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  6. Simplicio

    Simplicio Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but there are not many other options. And what is on offer at BB does not always adhere to the purists' rules (flap pockets, etc.). I just recall that when you make a list of the details that you want in proper formal attire, you realize that it is not all that easy to find, at least in the US. I haven't looked in the UK, but I would not be surprised if M&S got closer to the mark.

    So I still think that a black tie thread is a good idea. Maybe this is already it. Clearly, there is much to discuss. I appreciate the comments, gentlemen.
     
  7. Holdfast

    Holdfast Well-Known Member

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    Great points. I was thinking about this topic while I was getting dressed this morning (damn you SF for polluting my mind...) and guessed we might be coming at it from a different geo-historical (can I trademark that word?) perspective. I find it endlessly fascinating how a small shift in viewpoint magnifies differences over time, and that's something definitely not unique to clothes.


    Yes, I think that's true. Or rather, there's a greater cultural fragmentation in what dress represents, so that different subcultures view dress in a more polarised way than perhaps they may have done in a more homogenous cultural milieu. Therefore, the impact of the individual in defining his or her own style becomes greater. This is a double-edged sword, naturally, and I'm sure everyone can extrapolate various pros & cons to this state of affairs.

    This part of the discussion heavily echoes a thread (or it might just have been an aside in WAYWRN) that Baron started about dressing up in suits for concerts and how all of MC/tailored clothing has really become costume in the eyes of the general public.



    I believe we should christen the posting of this image in any thread on white or black tie as Tibor's Law, the sartorial equivalent to Godwin's Law... :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  8. Butler

    Butler Well-Known Member

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    Sigh.
    .

    Black tie is not about you. It's about others. It is not you, as an individual, who represents elegance. It is the event itself that embodies the festive side of elegant dress.


    Exactly!

    May I just add that in my neck of the woods, it is also very much about the Host/ess. Your host has (for whatever reason) decided that they want to host a party and specified a dress code.

    It is simply not good form to accept the invitation and arrive in anything other than Black Tie if so specified - it is inpolite in the extreme toward the Host!
    :bigstar:
     
  9. Butler

    Butler Well-Known Member

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    I believe we should christen the posting of this image in any thread on white or black tie as Tibor's Law, the sartorial equivalent to Godwin's Law... :)
    [/quote]



    Hmmm - black waistcoat with evening dress! :bigstar:
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  10. GusW

    GusW Well-Known Member

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    Corbera's post:

    Black tie is not about you. It's about others. It is not you, as an individual, who represents elegance. It is the event itself that embodies the festive side of elegant dress. Everyone...at least, in a sartorial sense...takes part as equals (or as close as one can get when it comes to clothes) in a black tie (or white tie) occasion. It is that very inclusiveness of everyone being "in" on dressing for the evening that lends itself to convivial social interaction: more simply put, fun.

    This is very well said.

    I'll ramble a bit.... As I read it, I was reminded of growing up outside of NYC and attending events as a young man in the late 60's and we wore "standard issue" to fit in and to be a part of the setting. It was fun and everyone looked great.

    There were only two exceptions that I can recall at that time. Less important black tie events at the field club and the country club (and you knew when and what those were) brought out a few interesting exceptions. However, there were more important social events were no one would have "stepped over the line". It just wouldn't have looked right. It would have been bad form.

    One of the exceptions, in a less formal setting, was a guy in a lime green paisley dinner jacket. This was truly radical stuff but he had the looks and charisma of Steve McQueen to pull it off. It wasn't something for amateurs. The other was the head of one of the leading spirits companies. He had a madras plaid jacket for spring summer. But the guy had the personality, to pull it off. Even these exceptions seemed to know when and were an exception was OK.

    The rest of us were quite content in following decorum. Our standard issue was about being apart of the group. It wasn't about our personal sartorial expression. What is interesting is that same group is still "tight" and connected to this day. Maybe it was our matching monkey suits?
     
  11. Spong

    Spong Well-Known Member

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    Understood.

    I agree it is rather a shame though. I will say firstly that, having observed your dress in WAYWRN I wouldn't describe your style as costumey at all, I would frankly expect someone in your profession to dress smartly, but perhaps that is just my conservative view on the world.

    It's a subject of great interest to me, in my line of work (tech journalism) there is absolutely no need to dress in classical MC whatsoever - I can happily stroll into work in a t-shirt and jeans and this is indeed the way most people in my workplace dress, at least on the editorial teams.

    I tend to wear sport coats, blazers, odd trousers and the occasional waistcoat, complete with pocket squares, ties and sometimes braces, without bothering anyone. I get the occasional comment but it's usually positive or at least in jest and in fact people seem more disappointed when I 'go casual' sometimes.

    As much as I'd like to I'm not sure I'd add cravats or hats to the mix as that may be a step too far, but the reasoning behind it is the same - this is a style of dress I feel looks good and suits me better than jeans and a t-shirt. To me it is no more pretentious than people who carefully style themselves as a Goth or some other aesthetic and personal style which represents them.

    What I think is most interesting is how friends and colleagues sometimes talk about the desire to 'dress up' occasionally. In fact, mentioning Black Tie got some people in a bit of a flutter about how much they'd relish the excuse. I think it's one of those things which has a lot of public support generally, but in a very quiet fashion - people have a desire to do it but no real opportunity to pursue it without appearing peculiar in their view. I have heard much the same regarding classic hats - many men allegedly want to revive them but feel they could only do so if they saw more men walking around in trilbies on a regular basis (and not the trendy douchebag kind).
     
  12. Tibor

    Tibor Well-Known Member

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    I would say it is only a costume if you are pretending to be something that you are not, that simple. If you cultivated and refined your style, and believe in it with all of your heart, I don't understand how any individual's style could be called "costumey". I think the Gents on Stylefourum have become so hyper sensitive and self conscience about how their own style might be judged by the contemporary collective society; they can be much(and usually are) more critical and judgmental of an individuals anachronistic(or any other) style than the far majority of people in contemporary society. I personally was critiqued and criticized far more on styleforum than I was living everyday in an uber casual society of flip flops and board shorts ( San Diego). I think this has to do with so many members of SF wanting to dismiss anything as "old fashioned" or highly unique for fear of having their own style not accepted.
     
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  13. Tibor

    Tibor Well-Known Member

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    I think the majority of people in everyday life everywhere in the world and on Style Forum care way to much about how others might perceive them. I believe that true style, is treating yourself and everybody else with respect while not giving a fuck as to how people might judge you, only how they will judge character, kindness, and one's sincere heart.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  14. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  15. Archivist

    Archivist Well-Known Member

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    Cruelty has a human heart
    And jealousy a human face,
    Terror the human form divine,
    And secrecy the human dress.

    The human dress is forged iron,
    The human form a fiery forge,
    The human face a furnace seal'd,
    The human heart its hungry gorge.
     
  16. Superfluous

    Superfluous Well-Known Member

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    Someone please answer.
     
  17. tgt465

    tgt465 Well-Known Member

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  18. dopey

    dopey Well-Known Member

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    For black tie, your trousers should have no pleats and no turnup cuffs - the hems should be tailored to hang over your heels in the rear but angling up to have barely a break over the front of your shoes.
    If you prefer pleats, it is no great horror, but flat fronts are preferred. Cuffs are a never, though.
    If you have occasion to wear a smoking jacket, you would know already - it is very rare that they are worn naturally, though as fashiony dress-up, do whatever seems fashionable in your crowd.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  19. LaoHu

    LaoHu Well-Known Member

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    Dopey has it spot on.
     
  20. Gattopardo

    Gattopardo Active Member

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    I think we may have gone to the same high school, though I am of a post-millennial vintage. In any event, I agree that our graduation attire was certainly more classic than the prevailing trend toward brightly colored polyester robes...unfortunately my high-school hairstyle did not have the same aesthetic longevity, so I'm unlikely to look back on photos from the event with complete admiration in the years to come.
     

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