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Black tie dilemma

rmanoj

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Hi, this is my first post, but I've been lurking for a while. I'm at university and I have a ball coming up to which I plan to wear black tie. I've already got a dinner jacket, but it's quite old (a Hepworths by Hardy Amies suit from the '80s that I managed to get from ebay for about £20 and wore for my school leavers' ball!). I'm financially dependent on my dad, and I convinced him to let me spend £300 on a new dinner suit (because I had my eye on this). However, when I actually tried the old one on the other night, I realised there was nothing particularly wrong with it, apart from uncovered buttons, which I can get replaced. I don't like the narrow shawl collar either, but that's hardly a good enough reason to buy a new suit. Here's a picture (not very clear but better than nothing) . I'm not sure what to do now. Here are the options I'm considering: a) Buy the Charles Tyrwhitt suit anyway b) Use the money, or some of it, to improve what I have now. I don't have proper evening shoes (I just wear my normal black captoes) so I could get a pair of patent lace-ups (I'm thick skinned enough to wear opera pumps but I don't think I'd be able to get them in time for the ball). Does anyone know where I'd be able to get a pair for under £100? If I go with this option, I'll probably get a black homburg from Christy's as well, because I'm a hat wearer (and the theme of the ball is '30s Hollywood anyway...). What should I do?
 

inimitable

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Opera Pumps here - http://www.shiptonandheneage.co.uk/p...mp-2327-0.html

If the Hepworths Tux fits well, I'd go for that and then invest money into a nicer ensemble when you have the time to shop around for the best deal.

I think you can do better than spending £300 on something from CT. Especially when further down the line you may want to replace it with something really nice and a Tux wont exactly get worn out and replacement needed.
 

rmanoj

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Thanks. Hmm...£139 is a bit steep and those pumps are MTO (it says slippers, which I take to include the pumps as well, can take up to 8 weeks to complete) . The ball is on March 11th, so I don't think I'd get them in time.
So CT isn't generally considered to be good value for money?

EDIT: I'm actually tempted to order pumps from Broadland slippers (a bit cheaper than the Shipton and Heneage ones) now. I won't have them in time for the ball (I'll just have to wear the captoes), but of course there will be other occasions. I'll definitely have the hat anyway.
 

rmanoj

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I'm now considering another option: Forgo new shoes for now and spend the money on a Brooks Brothers formal waistcoat ((here). However, the only sizes they seem to have available are "Medium" and "Large". I wear a size 38 jacket so I assume I'd be a small...?
 

inimitable

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Originally Posted by rmanoj
Thanks. Hmm...£139 is a bit steep and those pumps are MTO (it says slippers, which I take to include the pumps as well, can take up to 8 weeks to complete) . The ball is on March 11th, so I don't think I'd get them in time.
So CT isn't generally considered to be good value for money?


Herring Shoes have patent oxfords for £99 if you are on a strict budget. I don't think you will find pumps much below the price of Broadlands or Shiptons offerings.

CT is distinctly average in my opinion, certainly for shirts. I haven't owned a suit from them so can't comment specifically, but £300 seems a lot for a Tux from a company that specialises in making shirts. If you think you may be tempted to buy something of higher quality such as PRL or similar in the future, then I would wear what you have and buy a nicer Tux when you can afford it. Especially if you are not attending a lot of black tie events in the meantime.

I'd be tempted to look at somewhere like Suit Supply, whose quality is very good for the money and you would almost certainly be able to get a Tux for £300 with alterations. Can't see anything on their website, but they did carry them last season.
 

culverwood

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The Brooks Brothers site seems to be having problems. Do not but the waistcoat without trying it on as you will not have time to alter it before your ball.

If your existing dinner jacket fits keep it, I have 3 old dinner jackets and trousers I cannot bear to throw away as they are still wearable and I am sure "One Day" I'll have lost enough weight to fit in them again.

In your position I would spend £300.00 on a pair of good black shoes and a decent self tie bow-tie.
 

TheFoo

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Keep the old dinner suit. Doesn't look like anything's wrong with it, and the new one could be worse.
 

rmanoj

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My dad will let me spend £300 on a new suit but probably not quite as much on accessories etc. I don't think I really need a new bow tie - my current one was quite cheap, but it's 100% silk barathea (didn't want satin...), matches my cummerbund (yes I have a cummerbund, but I'd much rather wear a waistcoat) and there's nothing wrong with it. Here's a summary of what it's looking like now:

Homburg - about £60

+ One of the following

BB waistcoat (any UK-based options of a similar or lower price? Not too keen on the Ede & Ravenscroft offering because it's made of wool, which I don't think works except as part of a matching 3-piece dinner suit) - about £132, including shipping and first-purchase discount

Broadland pumps (not for this ball but for future occasions) - £116. I've now decided against lace-ups - If I do get evening shoes, they're definitely going to be pumps.
 

cbbuff

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Originally Posted by mafoofan
Keep the old dinner suit. Doesn't look like anything's wrong with it, and the new one could be worse.

Agree. Plus it's a good lesson - you have a perfectly serviceable suit. Wait until you can afford to buy the replacement yourself.
 

TimelesStyle

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Get the new suit, unless you really like the idea of wearing a 30 year old dinner suit. Looks like your shirt has a wing collar also, which is fine with a peak lapel like the CT, but not a shawl. A dinner suit isn't something you buy because you need, it's something you buy because you want, and there's nothing wrong with that; it's a luxury item. So go out and have yourself fitted for a brand new one.
 

rmanoj

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^ No, that's just a turndown collar. It probably looks like that because of the angle. It's a marcella-front shirt, with white MOP studs that don't really show up in the picture.
 

TimelesStyle

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Originally Posted by rmanoj
^ No, that's just a turndown collar. It probably looks like that because of the angle. It's a marcella-front shirt, with white MOP studs that don't really show up in the picture.

Either way, it sounds like this is a special occasion, so if you can, treat yourself to the new dinner suit. For a special occasion, you don't want a dinner suit that's "passable," you want one that makes you feel great to don it and show it off at the event.

My old, crappy dinner suit was certainly "acceptable" for anything I'd have to go to (and proper, aside from the notch lapels), but I decided for my next black tie event I wanted something a cut above, so I treated myself to a new one that will make me feel that way. Unlike donning a suit for a meeting, a presentation or an interview, this isn't work and your outfit shouldn't feel like a chore.

And spending money to upgrade the tuxedo accouterments when it's the tuxedo itself you're not thrilled with won't make things any better.

Lastly, if you have a friend in the same position of looking for new evening wear, consider TM Lewin, where you can get two dinner suits, two shirts and two ties for GBP 585, or if he doesn't have one, ask your dad if he wants to go get fitted with you, as a father/son thing...
 

a1092115

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If your old man's offering to pony up for a new dinner jacket then take it! No brainer haha
 

rmanoj

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Just to wrap this up: the ball was on Friday. I ordered the homburg, although it didn't arrive in time (
), but instead of getting a pair of evening shoes that I'd have very little use for, I decided to spend the money on some brown ones for daywear. Here's a quick report: What really struck me was the fact that NOBODY CARED ABOUT SHOES. Most people were in either lounge suits or dinner jackets and had made themselves fairly presentable, but if you looked down, a lot of them were wearing things like school shoes (those horrible black lace-ups that schoolboys tend to wear with their uniforms) that hadn't even been cleaned or polished (not that they'd really take a shine), and some even wore brown (although these tended to be clean at least). A really sad example was this one guy who was wearing a DB DJ, turndown collar fly-front shirt and self-tie bow tie...with school shoes (he hadn't bothered to shave either...and no, it wasn't designer stubble). My spit-shined black captoes were probably the best shoes there - I certainly didn't see any patent leather. There were the usual floppy wing collars (almost invariably accompanied by pre-tied bow ties), but thankfully only a few people did the DJ-with-four-in-hand tie thing - most of the people wearing four-in-hands were in lounge suits. Many people also felt the need to take their jackets off as soon as they sat down to eat, although thankfully no one at our table did. My two housemates and I were probably the closest to being SF-approved (apart from the shoes, but at least they were leather-soled lace-ups that we'd shined properly) . It seems that I can tie my bow tie better when I'm slightly drunk and not looking in a mirror (it had been yanked off by a drunk girl)...
 

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