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Black tie event

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnnynorman3, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I actually have a few questions here. Manton, your "rule-based" answers are allowed, though might not be listened to. [​IMG] I am wearing a one-button, single breasted peak lapel, unvented. Lapels are satin. The trousers have terrific side adjusters and buttons for braces. So, here are my questions: (1) Is a formal shirt a necessity? I have white, french cuff shirts in herringbone, twill, and 140s sea island. All with nice thick MOPs. The former two are Jantzen, the latter is a Polo Collection/Lorenzini. They all fit well, with the former two obviously fitting best. I saw a Brioni formal shirt in my size on Ebay, but don't want to drop the $125 if I don't really need to. (2) Should I go with vest or cumberbund? (3) Why do the pants have braces buttons? Is wearing suspenders with a tux considered something you can do? Or are the buttons for the cumberbund? Thanks.
     
  2. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    Yes.  If you don't wear a formal shirt, you'll either look like you don't know any better or don't care.

    Your choice.  Which looks better on you?

    The buttons are for braces.  I have a pair of white silk suspenders with black leather tabs that I always wear with my tux.  They're appropriate and no one will see them because you never remove your jacket at a formal event.

    Regards,

    dan
     
  3. ViroBono

    ViroBono Senior member

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    Yes. 'Ordinary' shirts never look quite right. Besides, you will miss the opportunity to show off the shirt studs that complement the cufflinks. It goes without saying that coloured or ready made ties are never worn.


    It's a cummerbund, by the way. As to which you should wear, this will depend upon which you are likely to be more comfortable in. If wearing a cummerbund, ensure it's worn the right way up - the opening in the pleats uppermost. Personally I favour an old fashioned evening waistcoat with lapels. One advantage of a waistcoat is that it's great if you have a pocket watch and chain.


    The trousers have brace buttons so that you may attach braces to them. The wearing of braces with evening dress is certainly correct. A good cummerbund will have a loop sewn behind the pleats, through which the french bearer of the trousers is passed, maintaining a central position and helping to prevent the cummerbund rolling.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I agree with viro. Three things distinguish a good formal shirt: 1) the collar and cuffs are made from a different, stiffer material than the body; 2) there is a front bib of some kind; 3) it takes studs, not buttons. Those MOP buttons, no matter how nice and how thick, are a dead giveaway that the shirt is a business shirt.
     
  5. BjornH

    BjornH Senior member

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    I would get a proper formal shirt. Why skip an opportunity to buy a new shirt ? Braces are customary with a tuxedo but then, for them to sit right, the trousers should have some 'give' in the waist. If not, they will keep slipping off your shoulders.

    I'm a waistcoat type myself as I find the cummerbund a little staid. The sad news is that I haven't found my perfect waistcoat so I've accumulated a few less than ideal ones, that I've only worn once.

    Congratulations on having a reason to wear your tuxedo .

    B
     
  6. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    This was the answer I was expecting to hear, and one I agree with. Between a pique and pleated front, I much prefer the former. The Brioni on Ebay is a pleated front. There is an Armani Collezioni version in pique front, but the sleeves might be too short, I fear. It also has a fly front -- is this acceptable? Then there is this one at Chuck Tyrwhitt CT tux shirt Am I correct that this will be cut quite generously? Even if it is, being that I'll have my coat on all night, and most likely a vest on, does that really matter?
     
  7. ViroBono

    ViroBono Senior member

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    The CT shirt is the classic Marcella front, collar and cuffs shirt, far better than a pleated design. I have had the CT shirt in the past, and did not find it too loose at all, but as you say even if it was it is unlikely to be noticeable.
     
  8. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I suggest you email WW Chan and see what they would charge for a formal shirt. They might be able to do one for a decent price, and already have your measurements. I have a custom one from Ascot Chang that I really like, and even though they are seldom worn, formal shirts are one thing where custom fit is uniquely appropriate.
     
  9. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Thanks, Retro (banging my head on the table).
     
  10. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    I have read from time to time that the proper cuff for a formal shirt is a single cuff requiring links not the commonly seen French/double cuff. However, when I see formal shirts for sale they all seem to have the double cuff. What is the proper answer to this conundrum? If Johnny goes bespoke it might matter to him as well.
     
  11. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Well, consensus has it that single link cuffs are best reserved for white tie--- or in a pinch, black tie when there is a detachable wing collar and marcella shirt front involved.  It is currently considered the most formal option, in other words. As a bit of further color on this, a Turnbull  & Asser representative did say to me that general use of single cuffs was popular some 50 years ago,  but that recently it was associated (in his mind) with the cheaper European shirts that could go both ways--- barrel cuffs that convert to take cufflinks.  In light of this prejudice, you would expect good business shirts or those for black tie to have double (French) cuffs.  Or if you're squeamish, Freedom cuffs. Against that consensus are arrayed Alex Kabbaz and a number of his clients, who are rarely accused of associating with cheap shirts.  So take your pick.  [​IMG]
     
  12. ViroBono

    ViroBono Senior member

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    Strictly, wing collar is only worn with white tie. I have a collarless formal shirt, and it came with two collars, one wing and the other plain. Of course, these days many people wear wing collars with black tie, but they tend to be the same sorts who wear ready-tied bows or even those vulgar coloured ties.
     
  13. pejsek

    pejsek Senior member

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    Did you see the Sulka shirts on ebay? Someone is selling a large number in various sizes and--judging by the labels--they look to be from the final incarnation of that great store. I wouldn't go for the wing collar, but the turndown version looks quite nice. I'll bet you could get one for $20 or so. All the shirts feature pleated fronts, however, which may rule them out for you.
    I'm also partial to the waistcoat, but it's nice to have both. One of the great things about formal clothes is that they can often be found at very deep discount. I recently stumbled on a very nice waistcoat, cummerbund, and bow tie all by Garrick Anderson for Bergdorf Goodman. The waistcoat is done up in a wonderful heavy patterned black silk with white highlights, cut rather low in the sort of thirties silouhette GA is known for, and with a full back in shocking pink (ref. the lining discussion). The tie and cummerbund are in black moire and backed with the same shocking pink silk. I just don't know if I dare pair them with the black and white pony-print fur braces I got from Thurston 7-8 years ago.
     
  14. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As Concordia noted, Kabbaz may well disagree. But the "rule" as I have always understood it is: single link cuffs on wing collar shirts, whether worn with black tie or white tie; double link cuffs on turn-down collar shirts, which are appropriate only with black tie.
     
  15. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I must disagree, sir. The first dinner jackets were worn with wing collar shirts, and were worn only with them for many decades, until the prince of Wales and his set popularized the turn-down collar evening shirt in the 1930s. The annals of dress -- in both photos and illustrations -- are replete with examples of properly dressed men wearing the wing collar with dinner clothes. It does tend to look best with the single-breasted peaked lapel jakcet, and a vest. Personallly, I would not wear it with any other combination. But it is incorrect to say that the wing collar is incorrect with black tie.
     
  16. ViroBono

    ViroBono Senior member

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    Manton

    Actually I think we are both right. You are absolutely correct about the historical wearing of the wing collar. However, Debrett's 'Etiquette and Modern Manners' has it that wing collar, nowadays, is strictly worn only with white tie. I do not think this 'rule' is widely followed - except by Liverymen, military Messes, and so on.

    Personally I think a good wing collar (with some depth and stiffness - not those feeble floppy things so often seen), looks very well with dinner jacket. I have worn mine (to a 'Battle of Britain' theme night in the Mess, where we had the option of 1940's evening dress), with my bespoke DB dinner jacket - and it looked splendid. It also goes rather well with my smoking jacket.

    I have, in my wardrobe, a 1940s SB dinner jacket with fantastic ribbed, watered silk lapels; the trousers need some alterations and the whole thing needs cleaning, but I am looking forward to wearing it with my evening waistcoat - and wing collar.
     
  17. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It would appear that the English have changed the rules on us. I still prefer the old rule: the wing collar is required with white tie, optional with black tie. The problem with wing collar shirts in America is that only a tiny handful of bepoke shirtmakers make them correctly. Â The "wing collar" shirts sold in shops are awful: the collar is too low, the wings too small, and the whole thing too soft. Â Nine times out of ten, the RTW manufacturers put a pleated front on a wing collar shirt. Â Even Brooks does this. Â You'd think they of all shops would know better. There is no point in owning or wearing one unless it is done right: separate stiff collar, at least 1 1/2" high (depending on your neck length); wings big enough to hold their own against the bow tie's blades; stiff front bib in plain starched cotton or piquÃ[​IMG]; stiff single cuffs to match; voile or lightweight broadcloth body and sleeves.
     
  18. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    And let's not forget a bespoke bow tie. Who wants to see a clip, pulley, set of buttons, velcro, or whatever peeking above a suit collar?
     
  19. uriahheep

    uriahheep Senior member

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    Avoid at all costs the Sulka tuxedo shirts on Ebay. They're crap.
     

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