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The State of Black Tie: Your Observations

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

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  1. Superfluous

    Superfluous Senior member

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    While we're on formalwear talk, what's the go-to with pants. Pleats? No pleats? Cuff? Plain Bottom?

    Also, what's the deal with formal jackets without matching pants? Smoking jackets? How and what do you wear them with and what for?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011


  2. Spong

    Spong Well-Known Member

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    I realise this is a Black Tie thread but on a related note -

    I quite understand, and agree with, the many posters here who hold Black Tie traditions, conventions and standards in high regard, and who lament the apparent fading of such classic dress in modern times.

    However, I find it outright peculiar that on the other hand you simply don't hear such protestations on virtually any other fading or faded sartorial category with a traditional and practical grounding equaling Black Tie.

    A pair of prime examples would be classic hats or ascots/cravats, in fact these two particular examples are just as steeped in historical importance, yet when brought up they frequently receive contempt and vitriol instead of the praise Black Tie is almost universally (within iGent circles) granted.

    I don't want to hijack this into an ascot/hat discussion as there are plenty of them around already, I simply find it strange the selectiveness of what is considered classical, practical, stylish AND worth saving from history and heritage in the general forum consensus.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011


  3. LaoHu

    LaoHu Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    David, notch; Winthrop, notch; John D. III, DB peak; Nelson, SB peak; Laurance, shawl.
     


  4. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    I remember in the 80's being told that notch-lapeled tuxes weren't ideal. No idea whom by. Maybe my sister.

    I agree w/ the OP that standards are lower.
     


  5. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011


  6. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    I think it's easy to figure out - and understand - the roots of the difference: black tie events, via the enforced dress code, socially permit the eccentricity of wearing of anachronistic items like Black Tie. However, the context of wearing Black Tie these days is socially completely different to the role in had before. It's no longer night-time formalwear; it's a party costume. Another example is wearing morning dress to a wedding: common enough, so the costume retains a certain modern social acceptability. But only within that context. You wouldn't wear it to work instead of a suit. These formal dress codes have become costume dress instead, and they're only acceptable when worn to an appropriate costume event. Sad maybe, but true.

    Wearing anachronistic clothes items in normal daily life also has a costume effect; many dislike being thought of as wearing a costume. Myself, I don't mind that tag (in moderation anyway; or rather, I want people to think it's an stylish costume), so I do occasionally wear anachronistic items. But not everyone has a lifestyle that permits that flexibility, and more would probably not want to project that image in the first place. How can it be judged what is anachronistic and what is not? No hard & fast rule; it's based simply on what the average person in your intended circle of contacts thinks.
     


  7. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    I have joked that unlike women who are panicked when they see another woman wearing the same dress, I am the opposite. I get panicked when I'm not dressed like all the other men! Also, I have thought the man is for contrast - he should dress so that the woman stands out. (N.B. this is in the context of relatively formal gala or other fete type events)

    My understanding from the teleological prospective is that Beau Brummell, changed the peacocking of court dress to a serious more military style. Conservative men's style has been on that same track since.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011


  8. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Well stated, FC - I appreciate your input. I am certainly one of those who does NOT have a native fluency in black tie. As I said in my first post in this thread, I've never worn black tie, and I may never wear black tie. And this saddens me, because I feel like the elegant evenings you describe are a valuable and stylish thing in a man's life. My suggestions to try and bring about a renaissance of black tie stem not from a desire to look better than everyone else, but to encourage a proliferation of the social atmosphere that you eloquently describe. And, to the extent that this is possible, it seems right that the originators of such a movement would want to propose as stylish an evening as possible, not to set rules of exclusion, but elevate the events they create. As I said before, I would never think less of anyone who was wearing notch lapels or flap pockets. Especially if they were an otherwise invigorating party participant.
     


  9. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    You wrote your post at the same time I was writing mine, and there's a lot I agree with in it and tangentially echoed (from a different angle, admittedly) in my preceding post.

    However, I do think you're heavily romanticising the role & meaning of historical Black Tie in this quoted excerpt from that longer post of yours. Black Tie was simply a semi-formal dress code used for dinners between people from a certain class. Uniformity was not desired in order to create equality, but rather to define the boundaries of the event (i.e. "it's dinnertime, and this is what we do at dinnertime"). Remember, this was a dress code that at one point was adhered to even within the privacy of one's own home in certain circles, more worn out of a sense of obligation, duty and routine rather than with the aim of fun or inclusiveness. Now, it DID become what you're talking about, but only, I'd suggest from (roughly) the '60s onwards as people latched on to the idea of (to use your phrase) a festive elegant dress code to distinguish the gradually increasing informality and variation in the rest of their dress.

    Nowadays, it is largely an instruction to follow a specific costume party theme (which, incidentally is what positively encourages greater deviation from the standard, and gives room for personal expression. After all, if it's just a costume, you can riff on it how you like and it means nothing). I will leave it to others to debate whether this is a good or bad change (actually, I'm pretty agnostic on that issue. I'm not sure whether having worn black tie fairly frequently makes me more or less likely to side for or against, actually).
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011


  10. james_timothy

    james_timothy Senior member

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    Saving for later... carry on.
     


  11. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011


  12. rs232

    rs232 Senior member

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    Vox & Holdfast, is it then all about translating occasion into dress? And not the inverse? And hence, what does the decline in formality of dress say about occasions?

    Surely dress plays some part? It seems to me that what Holdfast hints at is that perhaps dress, and all that it represents, just isn't as important these days?
     


  13. Lensmaster

    Lensmaster Well-Known Member

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    I hear lamenting that there is no where to wear black tie. There is if you look for a reason. There are certainly places and times I would not wear a tuxedo. But I live in a small city in Michigan and I wear it several times a year. I wear it to performances of the local orchestra. Rarely, except for some attempts at a formal look for the Christmas concert, is anyone else wearing a tuxedo, but I feel properly dressed. I used to work for a radio station and went to the company Christmas parties in a tux. On New Years Eve I wear one even if I'm going to a local neighborhood bar. And I keep trying to think of other good reasons to wear black tie.

    There is a resurgence in formal dressing. Not as big a comeback as business suits in the work world. The biggest indicator I've noticed is the Academy Awards. The seventies started a long period of "I'm going to wear what I want no matter how bad it looks." But in recent years most men at the ceremony have been wearing tuxedos and making an attempt to do it right.

    Price is often cited as the reason for black ties demise and the reason individuals give for why they don't wear it. But today with the internet price isn't a factor. My first tuxedo, complete wit all accessories to wear it correctly, cost me $80.00 on Ebay. I had to find all the pieces but it only took a couple of months to find a good deal on everything I needed. Now I have both shawl collar and peak lapel jackets as well as both turn down and wing collar shirts.

    Notch lapels have been around since the beginning of the tuxedo but never in great numbers because, as stated before, shawl collar and peak lapel are more formal looking. So notches aren't wrong. Today purists would say that white waistcoats and top hats are too formal for the tuxedo. But in the thirties both were seen with black tie at times. Anyone can afford and find reasons to wear black tie if they wish. If anyone wants to learn how black tie developed and guidelines for wearing it look at the earlier linked Black Tie Guide.
     


  14. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011


  15. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    Don't Brooks Brothers do a complete range of black-tie outfits and accessories(including pumps)? I know my father needed a tux for a cruise a few years back, Think he just went to the local Marks & Spencer for it, as he didn't want to spend too much on something that was only going to get used for a couple of weeks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011


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