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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. TimelesStyle

    TimelesStyle Senior member

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    My argument had been in favor of black facings, not against midnight fabric for the rest of the suit.
     
  2. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    I've gone through this thread and am still confused about terminology as it relates to formal wear. I'm thinking of commissioning a suit from Chan that can be worn for most formal occassions. Whether I can get away with it for "Black Tie" I suppose depends on what I understand:


    • When reference is made to a "dinner jacket" - what are the correct pants to wear with it?
    • How is a dinner jacket or dinner suit different than a tuxedo?
    • Are dinner jackets and tuxedo jackets suppose to have vents or is ventless or double vents entirely personal preference?
    • How do the pants differ, if at all between a dinner suit and tuxedo? Is it the striping along the side?

    Would appreciate any opinions on my proposed configurations for my "formal suit" I can use for attending weddings (hell, maybe my own if it ever happens), opera, NYE or random formal events that don't come up often for me:

    Jacket
    • Midnight blue in a mohair blend fabric, single breasted, one button (what is proper color of the button - also blue?).
    • Peak lapel with black grosgrain facings.
    • Double vents.
    • Quarterlined.
    • Jetted straight pockets.

    Pants
    • Midnight blue in a mohair blend fabric, no cuffs.
    • Side tabs, no belt loops. But I'm also interested in having suspender buttons included. Would this require the cut of the pants to be less slim than I would typically wear with suit pants?
    • Off seam pockets.
    • One or two back pockets?

    Should I also commission a vest with this? If so, would something like a dove grey single breasted work with midnight blue silk back, or should it also be entiretly midnight blue?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  3. Archivist

    Archivist Senior member

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    Limeys vs. Yankees.
     
  4. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    TR, everything that you have decided to do is fine.

    Tuxedo is an Amercanism for what the British call a dinner suit. They are the same thing today. What makes it a suit is that the jacket and pants are in the same fabric.

    A dinner suit takes semi-formal pants, which have a single side braid, typically in the same material as the facings. Pants cut for suspenders are ideally a bit loose, which allows the suspenders to do their job in allowing a nice drape to the legs. Pants cut to be worn without suspenders can still take suspenders buttons. While you lose the graceful drape, suspenders can prevent the dreaded pooling of pants at the ankles

    Acceptable jacket buttons on a black or midnight tuxedo are black plastic, highly polished near-black horn, or fabric-covered buttons done in the same fabric as the facings. The fabric on the button can be smooth or interwoven in a jaquard pattern. A nice touch on a SB jacket are link buttons: at the buttoning point, there is a buttonhole on either side. Two fastening buttons are joined like cufflinks. It's an archaic detail, though, since you would never fasten an SB jacket. Because you never fasten an SB jacket, ventless is as practical as vented in a way that it is not for a DB, since a DB is always closed, Dougie dancing or Macarena notwithstanding. Midnight blue semi-formal pants look nicer with odd dinner jackets (cream, tartan, etc), so that's an advantage.

    Because an SB jacket remains unfastened, a waist covering is essential. This can be a cummerbund, but better in a full dinner suit with peaked lapels rather than a roll/shawl collar is a semi-formal vest. A semi-formal vest is black. There are many designs, both SB and DB. The archtypical vest is the black version of the full dress vest, which is white, but anything cut low is correct. A semi-formal vest is done in same fabric as the dinner suit, preferentially with lapels is self fabric rather than in the jacket facings. Since you are doing a quarter lining in the jacket, consider a backless vest. Backless looks loopy with the jacket off, though.

    Full dress vests in white were originally worn with dinner jackets, but with white tie. This was generally replaced with the black vest, black tie combo. The Duke of Windsor reintroduced the dress vest in white, but with black tie, making it fashionable at the time. This remains okay, but it is very formal for most occasions.

    How's that?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
    2 people like this.
  5. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    Black tie = Tuxedo = Dinner Jacket* = Smoking**

    * Note that 'Dinner Jacket' refers to the whole get up, not just the jacket. Also some times called 'Dinner Suit' but still the same thing.

    ** 'Smoking' may only carry this exact same meaning in Scandinavia and maybe Germany.

    Now, I'm no Black Tie authority, but I'll try to address a couple of your questions just the same - hopefully the resident experts will be along to correct any glaring mistakes.


    •When reference is made to a "dinner jacket" - what are the correct pants to wear with it?
    •How is a dinner jacket or dinner suit different than a tuxedo?
    •How do the pants differ, if at all between a dinner suit and tuxedo? Is it the striping along the side?


    As stated above, Dinner Jacket/Dinner Suit/Tuxedo are the same thing and so are the pants: Made from the same fabric as the jacket and with a single braid along outside seams to match lapel facings.


    •Midnight blue in a mohair blend fabric, single breasted, one button (what is proper color of the button - also blue?).

    As for buttons, cloth covered seems the most classic. One button front for a SB and four at the cuffs. For a midnight DJ with black facings I guess you could go either way with the button colour - maybe check with the tailor?


    •Double vents.

    No vents is the classic option.


    Should I also commission a vest with this? If so, would something like a dove grey single breasted work with midnight blue silk back, or should it also be entiretly midnight blue?

    A standard part of Black Tie is the waist covering (not necessary with a DB as it's supposed to remain closed. For a SB this means either a waistcoat or a cummerbund. A cummerbund should be the same colour as the jacket facings, a low-cut evening waistcoat the same colour as the suiting.


    Also, http://www.blacktieguide.com/ is a pretty solid resource.


    Edit: Wrote this while Voxbera posted so everything here is probably covered in the post above.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  6. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    FC and Kaplan, you are awesome. Thanks very much.

    So as for SB jackets, is there a particular reason it is never fastened? So the convention of buttoning while standing for lounge or business suits doesn't apply to DJs?

    Also, the vest is suppose to be the same fabric as the suit - does this imply color as well, so something like a dove grey would not be traditional? But if i were to go with grey, would that be a disaster or still acceptable?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  7. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    SB dinner jackets trace back to full dress, for which coats are worn unfastened.

    I wouldn't do dove gray...a contrasting vest would be for morning wear, except for a strict white full dress vest as I mention above.

    A "fun" vest could be okay for a tuxedo, but only as an option for someone with a full black tie season.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  8. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    Last question (promise). I'm assuming the braiding on the trousers elevates it to black-tie appropriate dress. Given that my attendance to black tie is rare (although the point is I would want to be prepared in any such event), and I want to be able to wear the suit to less formal events, like weddings where no specific dress is designated or nice dinners on the town, should I still opt for the braided trousers, go for plain or just order a pair of each while I'm at it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  9. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    The details of both the coat and pants of correct black tie will pretty much mark them as such, so they're not really something you can dress down as non black tie. That said, the correct black tie pants (with a single braid along outside seams to match lapel facings) can be used with several types of jacket: A SB or DB in the same colour as well as a SB or DB in ivory as well as more casual smoking jackets in plaid or velvet. Don't get plain pants for this, IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  10. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    There would be no point to pants without the seams finished with a dinner jacket.

    It you want something less formal, better a dark or midnight blue regular suit with a FIH or bow. Skip the tuxedo altogether.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  11. landshark

    landshark Senior member

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    You will not be able to have a suit that is both technically appropriate for a true "black tie" setting as well as less formal setting where men will only be in suits.

    What you are looking for is either a Midnight Blue or Black suit. One button, peak lapel, & double vented. Put on a cummerbund and black bowtie and you have something that resembles and may even pass off as a tuxedo. Wear a long neck tie or open collar and you have a dark suit that will be appropriate for less formal evening events.
     
  12. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Wait, you smell that?
    OK. good point guys, thanks. I thought the jacket with peak, grosgrain lapels, one button and jetted pockets with grossgrain trim was more versatile and not stricly a "tuxedo" jacket. Looks like I am mistakenly looking at it more from a GQ magazine pov (i.e., trying to treat it other than it is).

    Looks like I need to consider whether I really need the grosgrain touches and should just opt for the midnight peak lapel suit with suspenders...
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
  13. Archivist

    Archivist Senior member

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    The dinner jacket with white vest, black tie, and shirt with a soft turndown collar was a nice look, it's too bad it didn't last.

    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]

    Same rig but with a stiff wing collar

    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]

    King of Jazz, 1930. Fun fact, this was an early two color process technicolor film.
     
  14. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Black Tie Guide says "often worn unbuttoned", not "never".
     
  15. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    Peter is more forgiving than am I.
     
  16. Digmenow

    Digmenow Senior member

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    Could you please expound on the jacket's fit?


    • When having it altered, is waist suppression a good thing or should it be more sack like?
    • Do I button it to allow the tailor adjust it to my body or is there simply no way to have an OTR (thrifted :embar: ) jacket drape properly if left unbuttoned?


    I understand each of the words separately but together, they do not quite make teh sense to me.

    Please assume a shawl collar/single cloth covered button.
    Cummerbund or semi-formal vest?

    Most exerrent. Many tanks.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  17. calogero

    calogero Well-Known Member

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    It's been a while since I went to a black tie event, but the last time I did (a 21st about 1.5 years ago) I was shocked. There was one person out of about 50 who wore a suit. A handful wore casual collared shirts (sleeves rolled up), and the majority were just wearing t-shirts and jeans. I died a little inside that night.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  18. Kaplan

    Kaplan Senior member

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    He means cummerbund better with shawl collar, waistcoat better with peak lapels :)
     
  19. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    The odds that you will find a sack tuxedo these days seems pretty remote to me. When I think of "waist suppression," I think of something a bit more complex than taking in the sides. The degree to which you might have it done depends on (1) what is consistent with the style of the jacket, (2) your own physique and aesthetic objectives, (3) what is physically possible concerning what can be altered, and (4) the skill the tailor has and the degree of work he is willing to put into your alterations.

    Alterations done to a dinner jacket are no different in concept or process than alterations done to a regular jacket. A good tailor will see how it fits both fastened and not.

    My advice would be not to worry too much about these things if you are thrifting. The point of thrifiting would seem to be economy, and economy is usually inconsistent with getting something to fit really well. So, why worry about it? Just get the basic alterations that you need and then go have fun.


    Cummerbunds look better to me with roll/shawl lapel jackets. The rounded shapes are familial, and each shares its orgination in the more personal/informal history of dinner dress, which is the smoking jacket for the shawl lapel version of the dinner jacket, and the sash for the cummerbund.

    If you go back before WWI, pretty much every possible combination of features and accessories was present for dinner clothes. You would be wise to not seek inspiration from that period unless your intent is to affect an extremely antique or eccentric style today.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  20. blackbowtie

    blackbowtie Senior member

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    Where did this black tie event take place? Jeans and t-shirts? Really? Did you perhaps misread the dress code on the invitation? ;)
     

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