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Need advice - "Black tie invited"

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mikeynyc, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. grimslade

    grimslade Stylish Dinosaur

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    Black tie invited means black tie optional, which means you can wear a suit or a tuxedo at your discretion. Given the hour, however, a morning coat is probably more appropriate than a DJ.

    I just attended a "BTI" wedding. What I did was call the groom to find out whether it was really a suit-and-tie wedding where some people would show up in tuxes, or whether it was a black tie affair but the couple didn't want to exclude people who couldn't/wouldn't do the (semi) formal wear. It was the latter; the groom wanted a black tie wedding, but the bride was concerned that some people would feel alienated, so "black tie invited" was the compromise. But there were very few business suits there.

    Short answer is, I'd ask. "Black tie invited" admits a range of meanings in these times.
     


  2. Concordia

    Concordia Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    If I got one of those for a 3PM wedding, I'd wear either a decent dark suit or a blazer dressed up with dark grey trousers.
     


  3. summej2

    summej2 Senior Member

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    My advice: wear a dark suit. The invitation is wrong in suggesting black-tie at this time of day. The origin is no doubt that many, many wedding books suggest such including a statement to prevent people from wearing khaki pants and OCBD shirts sans tie and jacket.

    The one time I payed such an injunction any heed was a 11pm wedding on December 31 of 1999. I wore a SB peak-lapel dinner jacket---I was the only one. Everyone thought I was either a waiter or part of the wedding party.[​IMG]
     


  4. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    You guys are getting confused. The problem with Hanseat's designations is that he mixed up terms from different categories.

    Properly:
    Casual = sportsjacket, odd trousers.
    Informal = business suit.
    Semi-formal = dinner jacket (i.e. semi-formal and black tie are synonymous).
    Formal = Tails and white tie. Umm, perhaps white gloves.

    Of course, this is for the evening. Strollers are (and no one does this except for the Royal family, I think, and perhaps some particularly pretentious pricks) daytime semiformal. Formal morningwear requires a morning coat and odd striped trousers. Manton can correct me on this one if I'm wrong.

    And then there are categories like Black tie optional, which I take to mean that you can wear your black tie around your head, as if it's already late into the wedding and you have had a few more than enough, or "creative" black tie" which I take to mean that you can wear Mogatu's famous black and white piano key tie if you'd like. "I invented the Piano key necktie. What have you done?"
     


  5. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Wear a dark suit, look sharp, and tell people that your valet refused to let you wear the dinner suit before 6.

    (Casually mention that you have 9 yachts.)
     


  6. mikeynyc

    mikeynyc Well-Known Member

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    Wear a dark suit, look sharp, and tell people that your valet refused to let you wear the dinner suit before 6.

    (Casually mention that you have 9 yachts.)


    I like this suggestion, without bringing up the yachts.
     


  7. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    As a tangential rant, when exactly did it become stylish to confuse your guests with vague sartorial requirements (e.g. "black tie invited" or, one of my recent favorites, "cocktail attire")? Just tell your guests what you want them to wear in specific terms, 'kay? Otherwise, I'll show up in jeans and a tee shirt, which is what I'm often wearing when I'm drinking "cocktails."
     


  8. whoopee

    whoopee Distinguished Member

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    These inventive phrases are really very rude and unbecoming of a good host. This has something to do with Americans' (and maye people in general these days) fear of a defined dress code, because of class and "freedom" issues.
     


  9. TCN

    TCN Distinguished Member

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    JBZ and Whoopee,

    I am so with you on this issue, this has been a pet peeve of mine for a while . . . "black tie invited", "cocktail attire", "holiday attire", "cocktail chic", "holiday chic", and so forth. This is nothing more than the host trying to impress (IMHO).

    If it's black tie, fine, say black tie or "black tie optional" (after all, that's exactly what it is isn't it?). Otherwise, say "business attire", "casual", or state a theme if it's some sort of fancy dress party.

    That's all I need to do is sit around trying to decode the cryptic ramblings of a second-rate Junior Leaguer who's real passion is scented candles. [​IMG]
     


  10. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I sort of agree with you guys. There was a time when terms like "semiformal" and "formal" had clear, unambiguous meanings, and everyone understood them. If I was to host a party for people from the fashion industry or exclusively for Styleforum (in which case, I would expect a 50 page thread about what would be appropriate, including numerous treatises on the substitution of black suits and long ties for dinner jackets and bowties, long ties with dinner jackets, etc...), I might use those terms. However, it's likely these days that either host or guest will not know what the "proper" use of these terms are. In many cases, I would have serious doubts whether either party knows.

    I agree that the terms "Black tie", "Business attire", or "Casual" are much less ambiguous. Of course, business attire will extend to mean sportscoats and odd trousers as well as suits, and that casual will extend to mean tee shirts and jeans unless stated otherwise.

    JBZ and Whoopee,

    I am so with you on this issue, this has been a pet peeve of mine for a while . . . "black tie invited", "cocktail attire", "holiday attire", "cocktail chic", "holiday chic", and so forth. This is nothing more than the host trying to impress (IMHO).

    If it's black tie, fine, say black tie or "black tie optional" (after all, that's exactly what it is isn't it?). Otherwise, say "business attire", "casual", or state a theme if it's some sort of fancy dress party.

    That's all I need to do is sit around trying to decode the cryptic ramblings of a second-rate Junior Leaguer who's real passion is scented candles. [​IMG]
     


  11. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Formal morningwear requires a morning coat and odd striped trousers. Manton can correct me on this one if I'm wrong.
    Since you asked, the gray "morning suit" with matching trousers and vest is also considered "day formal", if a click down from the black coat with striped trousers and odd vest. The all gray suit is something one might wear to the races, or to a summer wedding. That is, if one lived in the Lost Word depicted in Esquire illustrations.

    I know one guy who does this, and he is not pretentious at all. He just loves strollers. He does look a little anachronistic, I admit.
     


  12. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    I sort of agree with you guys. There was a time when terms like "semiformal" and "formal" had clear, unambiguous meanings, and everyone understood them. If I was to host a party for people from the fashion industry or exclusively for Styleforum (in which case, I would expect a 50 page thread about what would be appropriate, including numerous treatises on the substitution of black suits and long ties for dinner jackets and bowties, long ties with dinner jackets, etc...), I might use those terms. However, it's likely these days that either host or guest will not know what the "proper" use of these terms are. In many cases, I would have serious doubts whether either party knows.

    I agree that the terms "Black tie", "Business attire", or "Casual" are much less ambiguous. Of course, business attire will extend to mean sportscoats and odd trousers as well as suits, and that casual will extend to mean tee shirts and jeans unless stated otherwise.


    I agree that many of the traditional terms (e.g. semi-formal meaning tuxedo) have gone the way of the dodo (in fact, if I receive an invitation showing the dress code as semi-formal, I am 99% certain that what is actually meant is suit and tie). However, I think you can still use terms like "black tie," "business dress," "business (or smart) casual," and "casual" in order to provide clear, unambiguous direction to your guests regarding dress code. My annoyance comes when I receive an invitation that says something like "cocktail attire" (or some of the other terms TCN mentioned above - I generally roll my eyes and feel stomach upset upon reading the term "chic" in just about any context). As TCN said, it's like the host is trying to impress his guests with his event knowledge when, in reality, he just made up a term (or copied a term from someone else who made it up). What this usually results in is several phone calls or emails amongst the invited guests with discussions regarding what everyone thinks "cocktail attire" means and how everyone is going to dress. Either that, or a thread at Style Forum which starts, "I just received an invitation to an event where the dress code is listed as 'cocktail attire.' I was thinking of wearing..."
     


  13. TCN

    TCN Distinguished Member

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    I agree that many of the traditional terms (e.g. semi-formal meaning tuxedo) have gone the way of the dodo (in fact, if I receive an invitation showing the dress code as semi-formal, I am 99% certain that what is actually meant is suit and tie). However, I think you can still use terms like "black tie," "business dress," "business (or smart) casual," and "casual" in order to provide clear, unambiguous direction to your guests regarding dress code. My annoyance comes when I receive an invitation that says something like "cocktail attire" (or some of the other terms TCN mentioned above - I generally roll my eyes and feel stomach upset upon reading the term "chic" in just about any context). As TCN said, it's like the host is trying to impress his guests with his event knowledge when, in reality, he just made up a term (or copied a term from someone else who made it up). What this usually results in is several phone calls or emails amongst the invited guests with discussions regarding what everyone thinks "cocktail attire" means and how everyone is going to dress. Either that, or a thread at Style Forum which starts, "I just received an invitation to an event where the dress code is listed as 'cocktail attire.' I was thinking of wearing..."


    I'll throw a little soiree at my place for forum members to discuss this topic, dress is "Summer Chic Invited". [​IMG]
     


  14. JLibourel

    JLibourel Distinguished Member

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    While I agree that "semi-formal" properly denotes the tuxedo or stroller, depending on the time of day, notwithstanding the strictures of LA Guy, at least in my part of the Greater LA area, I fear it means little more than no blue jeans. About a month and a half ago, my wife and I went to an event that specified "semi-formal" attire. My wife assured me it did not mean "black tie." I wore my midnight blue W.W. Chan suit, a nice silver Charvet tie with tiny blue dots, silver gray square and my A-E Byrons. As it turned out, I was by far the best dressed man present. Nobody was in black tie, and quite a few of the men were not even wearing neckties!

    I have related this anecdote before in these fora, but I'll repeat it again: Many years ago I was standing outside a lounge that was part of a hotel in Lubbock, Texas, where I then resided. There was a sign at the entry to the lounge saying "Formal Clothing Only." I asked the manager about this, remarking, "Surely you aren't limiting your clientele to those in full white-tie evening regalia?" (I wonder what percentage of the population of Lubbock, then or now, owned a white-tie ensemble!) He replied, "Oh no. That's just to keep out the guys in blue jeans. You'd be fine!" I was wearing a ghastly (in hindsight) pink, green and white sports shirt with the constellations on it and knit polyester pants. (Please, God, help me forget how I dressed in the '70s!) It seemed like the oddest devaluation of the term "formal clothing" I have ever encountered!
     


  15. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Maybe it's time to just drop the terms "formal" and "semi-formal" from the lexicon, or at least from invitations. At least when the invitation names a garment -- "black tie" or "business attire" or even "jacket required" -- you know what to do. There was once a time when nearly everyone knew what "semi-formal" meant. Those days are long gone. Now the term is just confusing. [​IMG]
     


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