The State of Black Tie: Your Observations

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mafoofan, Nov 22, 2011.

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  1. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    Fair enough. Often references to what is traditionally done have a strong prescriptive element here, so I guess I took it that way, but I don't disagree that a tuxedo can look good unbuttoned.
     


  2. Wallcloud

    Wallcloud Senior member

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    Recently attended an event that was labeled as a "gala" on the invite. Evidently I am one of few people who consider gala to be one of the most formal type of events.
     


  3. lwmarti

    lwmarti Senior member

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    What's commonly thought to be the only correct form of black tie was actually the result of decades of innovation, wasn't it? At some point, however, some people decided to stop innovating and to make some particular interpretation of black tie the only correct one. But the innovation seems to have continued, and will almost certainly continue well into the future.

    I personally don't like parts of where things seem to be headed, but I've come to accept that I'm in a small minority with respect to this. So although commonality may be part of black tie, I'm not sure exactly how much tradition is really part of it. It's probably a manufactured tradition at best. Much like my grandfather did for Hampshire College - telling the very first students what the school "traditions" were.
     


  4. Van Veen

    Van Veen Senior member

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    I don't really have a stance on buttoned vs. unbuttoned. (Actually, I don't understand the people who insist it must be worn unbuttoned.) It's just bad logic that just because a jacket has a feature it must necessarily be functional.
     


  5. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Senior member

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    I agree with your premise that not everything on a jacket is necessarily functional (my original comment wasn't intended to imply otherwise though I can see how it could be taken that way), but a lot of things on a jacket are functional. I'm just curious to see what the rationale would be as this would seem to be a case where a non-functioning button would be rather peculiar.
     


  6. sugarbutch

    sugarbutch Bearded Prick Dubiously Honored

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    There's a fair amount of leeway in black tie, even in the traditional application of it, which stems from its origin as a "casual" way to dress up. I even like some modern takes on black tie, but if the suit is cut traditionally and all of the other classic accessories are used, it would seem that the wearer has bought into the canonical version of black tie.
     


  7. Ianiceman

    Ianiceman Senior member

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    The origins of the tuxedo jacket can be equally attributed to a tail coat, which is left unbuttoned to the point that I'm not sure if many were even able to be buttoned, and smoking jackets which were clearly made to be buttoned. Double breasted dinner jackets are of course always buttoned. I've rarely seen traditional single breasted dinner jackets deliberately left open, (when standing) and when I have its usually because the wearer is wishing to show off some horrendous matching novelty cummerbund / bow tie combination. Hardly an inspiration for prescriptive convention, and not very flattering if the wearer is portly and thus has swaths of open jacket fronts flapping loosely around the hips. If it's normal, natural, common, traditional and expected that SB lounge suits remain buttoned at all times other than seated, why should this convention be abandoned when wearing a tux?

    Like it or not, the traditions surrounding the wearing of black tie are constantly in flux at varying speeds, otherwise we would all still be wearing opera pumps and stiff wing collars. You can buy into a large proportion of the whole tradition while not buying the entire lock stock and barrel. I've seen chealsea boots suggested on here as a footwear alternative choice for black tie, and seen that suggestion applauded by senior members who are to my mind traditionalists. I've never understood the abject phobia that someone might be able to see one's waistband, thus causing men to insist on waistcoats or cummerbunds with dinner clothes even though they wouldn't worry about such things with day wear. On the rare occasion that I'm in black tie, I will continue to keep my jacket buttoned while standing and attempt to look as splendid as our friend pictured above, but I will continue to eschew the need for waist covering, while adhering to pretty much all other conventions of black tie.
     


  8. sugarbutch

    sugarbutch Bearded Prick Dubiously Honored

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    Rock on.
     


  9. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    I also love the look of a chelsea with black tie, and I'm fine with bucking certain traditions. However, I think the cummerbund/waist coat serves another purpose as well besides the showing of shirt/brace attachments: most tuxedo shirts have a bib and studs which only go part of the way down and if you don't have a waist covering you'll see the noticeable transition between smooth cloth and bib and buttons and studs.
     


  10. Lensmaster

    Lensmaster Well-Known Member

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    When you are standing absolutely still, and your pants are cut right, the waistband may line up with your jacket correctly to make a solid black from the button down. As you move though there is the chance of white shirt showing below the jacket button. That looks messy. Wearing a waist covering prevents that from happening. True, men usually don't wear a waist covering with a business suit, but those aren't as formal as a dinner jacket. I will continue to wear a waist covering with my dinner jackets. I even feel more formal and special wearing a cummerbund.
     


  11. ImTheGroom

    ImTheGroom Senior member

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    Let's not forget eliminating the shirt navel. I think cummerbunds have acquired a bad name because, in prom colours, they're wretched little things. A black one, however, is quite sharp in context, and raises the waist line high enough to cover the shirt navel. If one was to wear pants at his natural waist, he might be able to get away without a waist covering. I don't see, however, why anyone would object to a lovely evening waistcoat - you just need to find one like this:
    [​IMG]
     


  12. sftiger

    sftiger Senior member

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    But where do you find one like this? I've been trying forever. Struck out at BB, Paul Stuart, J. Press, and everywhere else I could think of in NYC trying to find a U-shaped black formal waistcoat (I have a white one for white tie, but I assume this would be incorrect to wear with a dinner jacket?)
     


  13. ImTheGroom

    ImTheGroom Senior member

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    I found it online vintage. Vest was $50; alterations were $35 - had to come in quite substantially at the sides. It was pushing 44 I think, and my chest is 37, waist 32. A full dress waistcoat is acceptable, correct, and stylish, with a dinner jacket.

    Scroll down through the photos on this page: http://blog.blacktieguide.com/2012/10/25/the-joy-of-black-tie/
    And some instructions here: http://www.blacktieguide.com/Classic/Classic_Alternatives.htm (scroll down, again, and you'll see it.)

    Brooks Bros. new Gatsby waistcoat is a plunging V with grosgrain revers, so similar, just without the rounded edge. Then, of course, there's always bespoke.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013


  14. ImTheGroom

    ImTheGroom Senior member

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  15. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    Which supports my point, that it is not the showing of white when one's jacket spreads open, rather the hiding of the bib/studs to smooth/buttons transition of the shirt that necessitates the waist covering.

    Here's a waistcoat that should match the above-mentioned specs:

    http://www.ctshirts.com/men's-suits...|DJ037BLK|||||||||||||&page=2&canned=11071815
     


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