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Crash course on formal wear for a youngster


Senior Member
Sep 3, 2006
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Okay, so a black tie event came up in which I'm going to have to dress up for, and I'd like to take this opportunity to show a sense of style which I currently lack

My first question is the pant and blazer combination. I purchased (as it happened to be on sale) a slim, well fitting 2 button jacket today. It looks like this one, HERE except with satin lapels.

The only pair of slacks I have that fit me properly is a pair of cotton slacks. Is a wool jacket and cotton slacks a big no no? Even though I say they fit me properly, they're a tad baggy compared to what I normally wear in jeans. Will that look off as well?

Also, what type of shoes should I pick up? I assume wearing a pair of chucks to a black tie event is...

I'm looking for something cheap... any recommendations for something I can pick up second hand?

Finally, the tie. Is a skinny tie too edgy and informal for such an event? Like I stated, I'm young and completely uninformed of formal wear... help!


Senior Member
Sep 3, 2006
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also, I'd like to add that the jackets sleeve's are about half an inch too long. Can I get that tailored in a way that the tailor can let it back out if need be?
( I'm still growing )

How much am I looking at for that tailoring job?


Stylish Dinosaur
Dubiously Honored
Apr 21, 2005
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Inv, the good news first: Your sleeves can easily be shortened in a way that will allow them to be lengthened again. It shouldn't even cost much.

The bad news: It's essential that your jacket and trousers match, assuming you're looking to comply with the traditional standards of black tie. You should buy both at once, as a set, so they're exactly the same. And if you're going for traditional, you should stick to the standard black bowtie as well.

If you want the real "black tie" look, you may need to start again, if possible.


Senior Member
Feb 3, 2004
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"Black Tie" usually means a tuxedo (unless the invitation
says black tie "optional" in which case a dark
suit with matching jacket and pants is fine)

As you are young and still growing, buying a new tuxedo for what
may be a one-time black tie event may not be a wise choice.

You could look for a used tuxedo (matching jacket and pants) at a thrift store or on ebay
but you would likely also need to pay a tailor to do some alterations.

OR you could simply rent a tuxedo for a day or two, alterations included, at a formal wear rental shop
(where guys get outfitted for proms and weddings ) They will also rent an appropriate shirt, tie and even shoes if necessary.

Good luck with your event!


(stands for Jerk)
Spamminator Moderator
Feb 17, 2002
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What kind of event is this? How old are you, and will you play any important part in the event other than attending? In other words, will anyone care?

Formal wear is kind of a pain to "show your style" in, especially when you're still growing, because the stuff you need is somewhat harder to come by, has pretty strict rules about it, and is not very versatile, thus harder to justify shelling out for. I mean as opposed to an event where you needed to buy a suit, which you could then use later at interviews or whatever.

The pants really should match (same exact fabric), and anyway, you're unlikely to find a good pair of tuxedo pants without the jacket anywhere but a retail store (in other words, thrift stores IME don't have separate pants, so you'd end up buying the whole thing, which might be a better idea anyway).

I often find patent leather shoes, but they are without fail the cheap crappy kind given to the military for parade dress or to marching bands, and usually are in pretty poor shape. The other option would be very plain black leather shoes polished to a high shine. Leather soles please.

Nantucket Red

"Mr. Fashionista"
Mar 10, 2006
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What I did in college was get myself measured by the tailor at the cleaners
and search for a tux on Ebay. I ended up getting a Dior tux that came with a shirt (probably a castaway from a rental company). I also found a great onyx and pearl cufflink and stud set in sterling silver. The whole ensemble cost me about $80. Then I got a self-tie black silk bow tie. It just so happened that I already had a suitable pair of shoes handy (Santoni black satin pumps).

Nobody else was really sartorially knowledgeable enough not to know that I wasn't dressed brilliantly, and I came off as a real fashion plate.

If you do nothing more than learn to tie a bow tie, you'll be better dressed than most of the men there.

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