• We would like to welcome Exquisite Trimmings as an official Affiliate Vendor. Exquisite Trimmings is a UK based purveyor of the very best in clothing and accessories, from gloves by Thomas Reimer to leather portfolios from Il Micio, to watch rolls by Rapport London. Please visit their new thread and give them a warm welcome.

  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Black Tie in DC: First Time

Leverandon

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
119
Reaction score
2
Hey guys,

I'm going to my first black tie event and need a few tips.

The event in question is a "black tie optional" dinner in Washington DC where a Supreme Court Justice will be the guest of honor. I'm a law student and there is the possibility that I will get to meet the Justice. I've decided I'm going to wear a tuxedo and be legit.

Ideally, I would buy it all and do it right, but I'm on a bit of a budget. Here's what I'm thinking: rent a tuxedo, buy a formal shirt, bow tie and cumberbund and wear my black captoes.

Questions:

1. Is this acceptable?
2. Does anyone know of a good place to rent formal clothes in DC (that won't break the bank)?
3. What do you think of J. Press' formal offerings for shirt, bow tie and cumberbund?

http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_s...hp?id=128FW10L
http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_a...=BUTTERFLYBTKN
http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_a...d=CUMMERBUNDKN

4. Can I get away with wearing my black Park Aves, nicely polished up?

Thanks!
 

polar-lemon

Distinguished Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
1,686
Reaction score
2
Originally Posted by Leverandon
Hey guys, I'm going to my first black tie event and need a few tips. The event in question is a "black tie optional" dinner in Washington DC where a Supreme Court Justice will be the guest of honor. I'm a law student and there is the possibility that I will get to meet the Justice. I've decided I'm going to wear a tuxedo and be legit. Ideally, I would buy it all and do it right, but I'm on a bit of a budget. Here's what I'm thinking: rent a tuxedo, buy a formal shirt, bow tie and cumberbund and wear my black captoes. Questions: 1. Is this acceptable? 2. Does anyone know of a good place to rent formal clothes in DC (that won't break the bank)? 3. What do you think of J. Press' formal offerings for shirt, bow tie and cumberbund? http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_s...hp?id=128FW10L http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_a...=BUTTERFLYBTKN http://www.jpressonline.com/formal_a...d=CUMMERBUNDKN 4. Can I get away with wearing my black Park Aves, nicely polished up? Thanks!
For the price of a rental plus those items, you could get a new suit...all that to say, not sure it's the best use of money if you're on a budget. You're a student, and the black tie is optional, no one will frown upon you for declining the option. Assuming you have a decent-fitting solid suit, you'll end up looking far better in it than a rented tux. I'd suggest redirecting the funds into a plain white french cuff shirt if you don't already have one, in addition to a solid or semi-solid tie--a navy Drake's solid repp tie is perfect for this occasion. http://www.drakes-london.com/catalog...e/category/77/ Another option, black/white or navy/white: http://www.drakes-london.com/ties/al...m-silk-tie-782 Navy check is particularly nice as well: http://www.drakes-london.com/ties/al...-check-7cm-tie Your black PA's will be fine. If you don't have a good solid suit, here's your excuse to buy one. You'll get much use out of it in the coming years as well.
 

cptjeff

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2010
Messages
4,642
Reaction score
320
Out of curiosity, which justice?
 

summej2

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
Messages
589
Reaction score
2
In my experience, "black tie optional" in DC means that few if any will be wearing it. I can't speak to law in particular, but that's been my experience at other social functions.
 

Leverandon

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
119
Reaction score
2
I actually went to this dinner last year and wore a dark suit. More than 3/4 of the men were in tuxedos and about 1/4 of the students were.

Justice Scalia will be the guest of honor.

If I were to go the dark suit route, I have a well fitting navy suit, white french cuff shirt, and black grenadine neck tie, though I like some of the ties that you linked above.

My thinking on buying the accessories, if I go that route, is that I will be going to this event most likely every year, and other black tie events (like bal masques in New Orleans) and those accessories would be an investment, assuming you guys consider the J Press formal accessories to be high enough quality. Once I have a bit more cash, I'd just buy a tux and then I'd be set.

I understand the worry about renting a poorly fitting tux. I definitely don't want to show up in a "prom tux." That's why I was wondering if there are any reputable rental shops that you know of.

Good thoughts though, keep 'em coming!
 

cbbuff

Distinguished Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2010
Messages
1,251
Reaction score
44
Spend a bit of time looking around (B&S Forum, Ebay) you can get a great tux. It might cost you a little bit more this year (but you might be surprised, there's not a ton of demand so prices are often low), but you will save tremendously in the long run - meaning by next year. You said yourself you will use it a minimum of 1x per year. Plus you will look and feel 100x better.

Buy a decent one button, peak lapel black tux and shoes (no PAs with a tux). You won't regret it.
 

polar-lemon

Distinguished Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
1,686
Reaction score
2
Originally Posted by Leverandon
I actually went to this dinner last year and wore a dark suit. More than 3/4 of the men were in tuxedos and about 1/4 of the students were.

Justice Scalia will be the guest of honor.

If I were to go the dark suit route, I have a well fitting navy suit, white french cuff shirt, and black grenadine neck tie, though I like some of the ties that you linked above.

My thinking on buying the accessories, if I go that route, is that I will be going to this event most likely every year, and other black tie events (like bal masques in New Orleans) and those accessories would be an investment, assuming you guys consider the J Press formal accessories to be high enough quality. Once I have a bit more cash, I'd just buy a tux and then I'd be set.

I understand the worry about renting a poorly fitting tux. I definitely don't want to show up in a "prom tux." That's why I was wondering if there are any reputable rental shops that you know of.

Good thoughts though, keep 'em coming!


The problem with the tux is that, in addition to the accessories you've listed, you also have to get studs.

FB on CT ave has a rack of tuxes. Most are shit, but IIRC there are a few "John Varvartos" models that are 1 button, SB, PL. They are slim fitting, and decent quality (canvassing in lapels). Sign up for the "fan club" and you'll get a 20% off coupon. That should bring it down to $400 or so. Assuming you're a relatively straightforward fit off the rack, I think it would look good without significant alterations. Given that tux rentals could run up to half of that, it's a good value and should last you a few wears.

I unfortunately do not know of a good tux rental place in DC (or anywhere, for that matter).

Black PAs with it will be just fine, give them a mirror shine on the caps and heels.

I think the J Press bowtie is decent looking, especially for $36. This square-end Brooks is nicer IMO:

http://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCatP...=&sectionsize=

For a formal shirt, I'd go elsewhere, and I'd avoid a wing collar. Brooks has this one for just slightly more cash (sign up for the corporate discount program through border's for 15% off): http://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCatP...=&sectionsize=
 

IronRock

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Messages
373
Reaction score
12
Agree with ^^^ avoid a wing collar and try and find a Marcella bibbed white shirt with a turn down collar. Many come with a button or syud option so forget abt studs for the moment. Get a proper bow tie and learn to tie it - will take you 15mis to learn (google it). Ebay for the tux or rent this year and scour ebay for the next 12months till you find a decent one.

Most I imagine will be in rented suits so the shirt/shoes/cummerbund will be most important.
 

Leverandon

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
119
Reaction score
2
Already know how to tie a bowtie (I'm an occasional wearer). The one that I linked above is not pre-tied.

What's the difference in formality or modern/traditional between the wing collar shirts and turn down collar shirts?
 

summej2

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
Messages
589
Reaction score
2
If you have enough occasion to wear black-tie then go for it. I've been happy with accessories from Brooks Brothers for the few times a year I need them. The golden fleece turn-down collar pleated-front shirts are pretty nice (tent-like fit, but always under a jacket and vest for me). If I recall, there's a seller on ebay who has them new from an outlet regularly for less than $50. I don't think you need studs at this juncture (the Brooks shirt has a strip of mop buttons).
 

Ambulance Chaser

Stylish Dinosaur
Spamminator Moderator
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Messages
11,060
Reaction score
2,887
Federalist Society 2010 National Lawyers Convention Annual Dinner?
 

Johnny24

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
192
Reaction score
1
What exactly is your budget for a tuxedo if you are buying and how much time do you have? That will factor a lot into the decision you need to make. You are going to find many tuxedos, even the ones that are owned tuxedos at the even to be incorrect, or the dreaded "prom tuxedo". I have actually been to a black tie where Justice Scalia was present, and if I recall he was in what looked like a two button, notch lapel, rental number. The issue you are going to have with a rental is most are a poly blend so they can be washed over and over after some jager slugging best man spews all over it, so they look and feel pretty crappy. Also the pants will almost surely be way too long and bunched up at the bottom of a pair of awful looking rental shoes. Most rental places also will not measure you correctly so you will end up in a tux that looks like a 1990's sack suit when it comes to sizing and they will almost always screw up something else, like the shirt size after being measured or give you a vest when you wanted a cumberbund. Personally I would consider something like this before ever going rental, they are surely not Brioni but with some tailoring they will get it done for the evening. http://www.overstock.com/Clothing-Sh...6/product.html http://www.overstock.com/Clothing-Sh...3/product.html I know there is a lot of Banks hate on SF but they have very passable formal wear that is usually on perpetual sale, at the moment they are at full price (which you should not even consider) but next week they will most likely be 30-50% off. Check Nordstom Rack, Filene's Basement, some thrift stores and eBay as well, you could find a gem for very cheep. If you are in DC or the Metro area the likely hood of finding something nice at a thrift shop goes up 10x. I found a vintage nearly unworn midnight blue shawl tuxedo on ebay for under $150, and with some minor tailoring it was perfect, it is now my most prized sartorial item. I wish you the best of luck.
 

Johnny24

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
192
Reaction score
1

Sazerac

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2010
Messages
607
Reaction score
12
Agree with previous posts about the sheet awfulness of renting. It defeats the purpose of black-tie, really, by making you look worse than you would going in a good suit.

Also agree that while the Jos. and Brooks Brothers tuxes may not be the best in the world, they are at least correct. You can wear them with pride. I've been to many, many black-tie events, especially attorney-heavy events, in DC, and they're hardly the fashion mecca one would hope. In a Brooks Brothers tux you won't be the guy in the most expensive tux, but you'll be better than 70% of the others, guaranteed.

That said, the rule of thumb I had always used in New York was that if you're not one of the sponsors of the event, receiving an award, or giving a speech, you aren't expected to wear black-tie at a black-tie optional soiree. You might want to anyway, but it's not required.

Even as a law student on a budget, chances are very good you'll be attending at least a few black-tie events in the next few years. Spare yourself the indignity of renting and buy one. You can always upgrade to a more expensive one when you make partner.

And avoid the wing collar like the plague. Unless you're going to prom or are a 19th century robber baron who fell through a worm hole to the present day, it won't look right.
 

Johnny24

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
192
Reaction score
1
Originally Posted by Sazerac
Agree with previous posts about the sheet awfulness of renting. It defeats the purpose of black-tie, really, by making you look worse than you would going in a good suit. Also agree that while the Jos. and Brooks Brothers tuxes may not be the best in the world, they are at least correct. You can wear them with pride. I've been to many, many black-tie events, especially attorney-heavy events, in DC, and they're hardly the fashion mecca one would hope. In a Brooks Brothers tux you won't be the guy in the most expensive tux, but you'll be better than 70% of the others, guaranteed. That said, the rule of thumb I had always used in New York was that if you're not one of the sponsors of the event, receiving an award, or giving a speech, you aren't expected to wear black-tie at a black-tie optional soiree. You might want to anyway, but it's not required. Even as a law student on a budget, chances are very good you'll be attending at least a few black-tie events in the next few years. Spare yourself the indignity of renting and buy one. You can always upgrade to a more expensive one when you make partner. And avoid the wing collar like the plague. Unless you're going to prom or are a 19th century robber baron who fell through a worm hole to the present day, it won't look right.
+100000000000000000000000000 I have been a presenter at two black tie events in DC, one where Steve Wynn was the guest of honor and another where President Clinton was the guest of honor (neither were correct in their tuxedos, both two button notch jobs. Wynn had on a yellow tie/cumberbund, Clinton a long tie) The first one was on short notice so I rented as I didn't own at the time. I was lucky to find a one button peak lapel in wool but the rental place screwed up my cumberbund, and shirt when I picked it up the day of the event. Needless to say I was pissed and went right out and bought a cumberbund, tie and tuxedo shirt on the way to the event. I looked 10x better with the stuff I bought as oppose to the mismatched store crap. The next time out I owned my midnight blue shawl so I was in much better shape come the day of the event but the potential for rental disaster is reason enough to own even a cheap tuxedo. The nice thing about a tuxedo is the fact that most of them are uniform looking when done correctly barring subtle things like the lapels, so even a less expensive 100% wool number that is well tailored will look good; and no one is going to be brand checking a tuxedo or saying "mine is mohair, and his is only super 100's". Even the most snobbish SF members aren't going to notice the maker of the proper looking tuxedo a young student is wearing when a room is full of 2-4 button notch lapels, with sartorial crimes from head to toe. Oh BTW, not sure if this is all Marshals or just the one near me but I snagged a Ralph Lauren Blue Label (Polo) Custom Fit tuxedo shirt for $59.99 a few weeks ago. Here is the link to the shirt on the RL store. http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/i...entPage=family Stay away from the wing collar unless it is white tie " In North America there are two equally correct styles of shirts that may be worn with a dinner jacket: the wing collar and the turndown collar. Either style can be paired with any of the four archetypal jackets but the wing collar’s dramatic points harmonize best with the angles of the peaked-lapel jacket. Conversely, the hidden tips of the turndown spread collar complement the more discreet lines of the shawl-collar jacket. In Britain, however, the turndown collar is traditionally the only option for black tie as authorities such as Debrett’s regard the wing collar as the exclusive domain of white tie. " http://www.blacktieguide.com/Classic...ents/Shirt.htm
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

How do you feel about spending money on non-essential goods during the Covid-19 crisis?

  • I don't want to spend money at a time of economic uncertainty, even if I could afford it.

  • I feel compelled to spend to help small businesses that are struggling.

  • I reduced my budget for non-essential goods and I'm not spending at the moment.

  • Not much has changed for me and I'm still buying stuff I can't afford.


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
438,830
Messages
9,459,846
Members
198,249
Latest member
jalake0817
Top