The State of Black Tie: Your Observations

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

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  1. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    I'm sure there's a lot of misconceptions about going to the opera, that it's elitist, for the rich, one has to dress to the nines and is strictly black-tie, etc. IMO opera is for everyone, dress standards should never be an obstacle to prevent one from enjoying it.

    In fact it's often much cheaper to go and see something like La Bohème than it is go to a Lady Gaga concert.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011


  2. Mr Knightly

    Mr Knightly Member

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    One thing worth remembering about black tie is that it has never had rules the same way that white tie does. Because black tie is technically considered semi-formal, people have always played around with it. Notched lapels, while not my cup of tea, have been around on dinner jackets forever. White or ivory jackets are common in the summer. Tartan jackets show up around the holidays. Dapper American trads will wear Gucci bit loafers with their dinner clothes, or if they're especially bold, they may even wear an OCBD instead of a formal shirt. I don't oppose such creativity in semi-formal wear. After all, it's a party: you're supposed to be able to have some fun.

    I'm a 29 year old law student, but I've had occasion to wear black tie at least 4 or 5 times per year since I graduated from college. My tux is a HSF Golden Trumpeter. It has narrow, peak lapels with grosgrain facing, two buttons, and a center vent. The pants have double pleats and a long rise. It's a fine garment, and it's perfectly tailored, but I'm definitely in the market for something else. I'd rather have a much softer shoulder and flat fronts. I'm thinking midnight navy mohair. Any suggestions on someone to make it would be appreciated.
     


  3. mjphillips

    mjphillips Senior member

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    I agree with you here, and clearly so does the Met - their comments on attire are clearly meant not to scare people off. I must say though, people tend to dress up for the Met and it is a very grand space. It would take quite a secure person to wear shorts there and not feel out of place.
     


  4. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    I've been a couple times wearing a suit, which is certainly fine. If I had been wearing SC+trou or been tieless I'd have felt a little underdressed, though not woefully so. No jacket and you're kind of out of place though. At least if you have some style sense, which you clearly do, given that you're here.
     


  5. apropos

    apropos Senior member

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    So the state of canonical black tie is bad, but IMO it's not proportionally worse than the state of 'normal' suits in our time anyway.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011


  6. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Disagree. There are plenty of people in the world who wear suits to work every day and do it well. What's more, this number seems to be increasing. How many people in the US wear black tie more than once a month that aren't symphony musicians or waiters/other service people? I'd hate to hazard a guess, but it's not a lot of people. Such that it's possible that in 20 years black tie (by which I mean a tuxedo, correctly or even close to correctly styled) will be as common as white tie is today. There is no danger in my view that in 20 years suits will be as common as black tie is today.
     


  7. apropos

    apropos Senior member

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    Your standards for what constitutes suits "done well" must be incredibly low then.
     


  8. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    I odn't mean 1%-er. I mean they look presentable. You walk into a typical law office at a big firm or investment banking firm or whatever, you're going to see a bunch of dudes looking at least pretty good in suits.
     


  9. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Anyway it's useless to get into a discussion about how well people wear suits today as this discussion has no end or purpose. But I think you'll agree, the suit is not going to die anytime soon, and is more alive now than it was 10 years ago?
     


  10. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    I think it depends on the baseline of what is "old fashioned". I suspect we are starting to see movement away from the "old fashioned" casual-is-hip-attire of the past 40 years to the "old-old-fashioned" of the mid 20th century which now seems to be "cool". Only time will tell for certain.


    I've been to 4 black tie galas this year, more if you include black-tie optional events. I agree with you that the shoes are the weakest link in the correct male formal attire. In many, all the details are correct except for the shoes. Those dressed the most correct also tend to be the elderly (70 to 80 year olds) but I have also seen many in the 20s-30s dressed similarly correct. I have however also seen an 80 year old man wear sneakers with a tux, though I'm not sure if that choice is related to arthritis or fashion. More cummerbunds than vests. More bowties than straight ties.

    I also saw many wearing studs, not sure if they are the majority though. As an aside, Mikimoto has beautiful black pearl stud and cufflink set for ~ $8k. Harry Winston has garish diamond entrusted black pearl stud and link set for some large $$$ which I do not recall.

    I think one of the reasons for variability in "correct" dress is because few have read or even know about the "rules". I didn't know the rules at the beginning and used Manton's book to design my black tie attire (1-button SB peak grosgrain lapel with vest in black barathea, shirt with pique front, cuffs and detachable collar). I too broke the rules by wearing a patent derby instead of an oxford or pump, though I find it reassuring that, according to fritzl, the derby is worn in Europe.
     


  11. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The two answers below are pretty good


    I agree that weekdays can be slightly less formal than weekdays - I don't think I've seen black tie during the week but there is usually a smattering scattered about on Saturday nights. The prevailing dress standard also varies with the seating level (seems less formal in the Dress and Family Circle but people dress there as well) Dress seems a little more formal in the lounges. Apart from varying degrees of formality, there can also be a lot of flamboyant wear, so if you have been looking for an occasion to wear your peacock feather vest and gold lame pants or even a Tom Ford suit, this may be your chance (the Met is the only place I have seen a couple in matching Tom Ford suits).
    Special occasions have their own dress code:

    In any case, I wouldn't get hung up on the dress "code". A suit will be fine, as will city coat and tie. So will other things as long as you look like you dressed for the occasion. The Met goes through a lot of trouble to put on a good show and the audience contributes to the atmosphere.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011


  12. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    You mean something like these?
    [​IMG]
    Now to me they do look old fashioned and rather feminine IMO. If I where required to wear black-tie for a bash somewhere, I wouldn't want to be wearing something like that. I bet 007 doesn't wear them, not when he might have to chase criminals in his tux.

    Probably like when people do white-tie, they probably do most things except the top hat and shiny cane.
    [​IMG]
    Because they're too old fashioned. They look good with Fred Astaire though in the 1930s.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011


  13. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    No, I meant patent leather shoes rather than just any black shoe. I might have seen a tux with pumps once, but maybe it was in a picture on the interwebz.


    I am looking for an excuse to make a set of tails one of these days. There are maybe 5-6 white tie events in NYC per year. Or perhaps I will have to make it to the Vienna Opera ball.
     


  14. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    Has a StyleForum Prom been suggested before?
     


  15. pvrhye

    pvrhye Senior member

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    Seems obvious to me that the problem with Black Tie is that it's impossible to maintain any kind of standard when most people will never attend a Black Tie event in their life. I think the overall decline in formality has more or less killed formal events for all but the most nostalgic institutions.

    EDIT:

    Does quarter lined run the risk of white shirt showing through black jacket?
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011


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