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White Tie to Prom

Carl Trotter

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This discussion will be my choice on wearing White Tie to prom and I'd love to have the insight of the experienced gentlemen here on the StyleForum.

My school's Christmas Dance is in December 2021, 79 days Time (with the Prom following in the months after) and I have spent the past 4 years saving and slowly accumulating a proper White Tie ensemble inspired by the great Fred Astaire himself for this purpose. (It's also useful for a Count Dracula Costume, 1931 Original Of course). I have already acquired a date and she's used to me wearing suits, but if it is out of her comfort zone I do have a Dinner Jacket on standby.

It all started with the waistcoat when I was 13 (which was initially too big for me) then slowly it built up from then as I got a stiff-fronted shirt/detachable collar etc., now 4 years and a few shirt studs later, at 17 years old, I am quite content with the outcome.

I am a man who appreciates blunt criticism so long as it has a constructive flair, here is my ensemble as it 'currently' stands:
[IMG]

The most obvious issue that I, personally, can notice is that the tailcoat doesn't fit like a body coat, it's a bit baggy. The peeking waistcoat is a side-effect of this and should be adjusted once I collect it in a week or two. As such, as we speak/read, the chest is being taken in relatively drastically and the shoulders brought up a (tiny) amount.

Please, provide your open thoughts on the ensemble its self and the idea of wearing White Tie to a prom/dance.

I personally live in Scotland, so it is cold here in December and so I have a DB black overcoat, silk scarf, and silk plush Top Hat which I'll be wearing to and from the event (but very briefly).

Gentlemen, I must also warn you that that photo was taken before 6 pm, a fact of which I hang my head in shame towards.

I hope you have all been well during COVID, and am wishing you all well,
-Carl
 

paxonus

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The sleeves are too long, hopefully there is a little extra material to let them out. I would have the trousers worked on. Too much extra material around the hips.
 

Carl Trotter

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The sleeves are too long, hopefully there is a little extra material to let them out. I would have the trousers worked on. Too much extra material around the hips.

Indeed. Thank you very much indeed for your response, I definitely need to get the waist reduced as it's currently too big, luckily this dress code calls for braces so it isn't a practical problem, more aesthetic.

The sleeves do have extra material, but it is a surgeon's cuff, so I can only get them to let out a bit, but I'll definitely look into it.

Thank you once again for your suggestions, I'll take them into consideration.

Wishing you well,
-Carl
 

Carl Trotter

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Got a lot of alterations to tailcoat, trousers and shirt. Here is the outcome at a Haloween party last night embodying Lugosi's Count Dracula:

unknown (1).png

unknown (2).png
 

Phileas Fogg

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You want blunt? Here’s blunt:


I am a man

no, you’re a child. Dress your age. There’s plenty of time to dress “grown up” when you actually grow up. For now, don’t expose yourself to needless mockery unless that’s really what you thrive on.

Speaking as a 50-something, I can’t imagine a situation where I’d need to dress like that now let alone when I was in high school.
 

Carl Trotter

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You want blunt? Here’s blunt:




no, you’re a child. Dress your age. There’s plenty of time to dress “grown up” when you actually grow up. For now, don’t expose yourself to needless mockery unless that’s really what you thrive on.

Speaking as a 50-something, I can’t imagine a situation where I’d need to dress like that now let alone when I was in high school.
I appreciate the bluntness. Thank you.

You're not wrong at all in anything you're saying. Furthermore, the White Tie dress code is mostly completely unknown and it comes off as a shoddy magician's costume.

This dress code, White Tie, is something that I can only foresee wearing at Haloween, to this Prom event this one time and for some of the costumed Black and White nights on Cunard.

For the most part, I try to dress more modern but this has just been a hobby. As much as I tried to avoid the trope of dressing 'older' to make up for my foolish youth, it's unavoidable.

This has been my passion project for the past few years, and now it's complete I have learned a lot in terms of the importance of cut, fit, circumstance, and history. These lessons are ones that I can apply to more casual clothing (as in odd sports coats, etc.).

I expect to get mocked during this Prom by some others at my school, and so long as I diffuse any remarks in my reply, all will be well. As the saying goes what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I hope you've been having a good day and thank you for your blunt bravery!
-Carl
 

Ben W

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Wearing something that was worn as a Halloween costume to a dance where you're hoping to be taken seriously is a tall order. I would've strongly recommended reserving the outfit for one or the other. If you don't take it seriously, I don't know how you can possibly expect others to. Will there be an overlap of people who saw you wear it as a costume and people at the dance? Does your date know you're wearing your Halloween costume to your outing with her?

What is the advertised or implied dress code for the prom? If you're known for dressing smart and are well respected amongst your peers you may be able to get away with elevating one level of formality above expectations. By way of example: if most everyone is going to be in an odd jacket you may be able to pull off a suit. If most everyone is going to be in a suit you may be able to pull off a tux. Going beyond that will almost certainly look ostentatious and draw unwanted attention. I can't speak to the expectations and norms at your school, but at mine I doubt many of the young men owned a well fitting suit let alone a black tie ensemble, to say nothing of white tie.

Is the goal to have the talk of the night be about what you wore? Is the young lady you plan to attend the function with comfortable with that as well? Does she have something to wear that matches the level of formality? Does she too realize that a level of mockery is almost certainly expected? If not, consider that there may be as much merit in blending in as there is in dressing well or showing off your knowledge and collection of classic menswear.

I would recommend finding a different outlet for flexing your sartorial muscle if at all possible. As someone who works from home for a tech startup, an incredibly casual environment, I empathize with wanting to dress above the norm. If I started showing up for meetings in a 3-piece suit I'd almost certainly draw some funny looks, at a minimum, and so I reserve them for weddings and such where they fit more properly. Perhaps if the dance goes well and this young lady is interested in seeing you further you could take her to the opera, where you might stick out like less of a sore thumb than you likely will at your school dance. You probably don't want to make others (particularly your date) uncomfortable with the clothes you wear.

All of that is to say I'd strongly encourage you to consider showing you're a gentleman by wearing a well fitting suit instead of your proposed outfit, if suits are the dress code. You'll show more respect for your date and your peers by doing so, and are much less likely to face criticism and mockery.

You might check out this video from The Gentleman's Gazette:
 

dieworkwear

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I think you look great. So long as you have a good sense of humor about yourself, you'll be fine.

Have seen young people get into costume design and historical repro stuff at a young age, and then apply those skills later on in life towards more professional careers.

Have fun at prom.
 

ValidusLA

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I think there are two ways to look at it.

1) In my view, I don't think anyone should wear white tie to any event that isn't a white tie event. I think the same for black tie, but white tie is x10.
All this "you're a boy not a man" stuff is BS and doesn't matter. I wore white tie 4 times between ages 18-19 for deb balls. Most people don't attend these. They are absurd and a relic of a different age. Most people don't attend white tie events at all.
I tend to think wearing WT or BT outside of WT or BT events doesn't look elegant and looks costumy.

BUT

2) HS proms are a **** show of horrible outfits to begin with. At least you have some care and thought put into your outfit, and you seem to be having fun and looking good in it.

If you don't give a **** that some people will think its looks nerdy (and it sounds like you don't, and you shouldn't), I say have fun.

So, basically, I would say never wear WT except to a WT event. But, if there is any time to break that rule its a HS prom.
 

maxalex

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I think you look great. So long as you have a good sense of humor about yourself, you'll be fine.

Have seen young people get into costume design and historical repro stuff at a young age, and then apply those skills later on in life towards more professional careers.

Have fun at prom.
My sentiment exactly! The Halloween costume is very cool--frankly much better than my own lame vampire costume in Rome tonight (I just wore my regular tuxedo and had a lady friend make up my face). The party get-up with the top hat and pendant is of course cosplay by design, but the basic outfit is very nice. Who cares if the other dudes at the prom are wearing rented ****? Plus you look a lot happier and more natural in white tie than this dude:

1635741084032.png
 

yorkshire pud

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It looks fine for a party (we didn't have proms in English state school in the 80s)

My only concern would be, It might be perceived as a very English outfit up in Scotland, can you add something Scottish to the outfit??

Tartan socks perhaps ?
 

Ben W

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For what it's worth, I think all of the opinions above are equally valid. If you wear that to prom you'll have at least as many varied opinions as you've had expressed in this thread. lol

Either way, would be interested to hear how it goes!
 
Last edited:

Carl Trotter

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Almost 5 years of planning and it was cancelled on account of COVID... ):

I am a sad fellow, but I took all of your exceptionally kind advice and had some more alterations. Here's a photo just before I left to the smaller organised gathering I attended.

With White Tie I've found that when you are going overdressed, you need to keep 2 things in mind:
-As intentional overdressing is quite selfish, you need to carry it with the attitude of Astaire in the sense that you wear it like your pajamas and not in a snobbish look-at-me manner. (In my case, leaving the Top Hat to the shelf!)

-Ensuring that YOU wear the White Tie and not the White Tie wearing you! Same with everything, you must stand tall and be proud of what you're wearing, but refer to the first point in restraining that pride to avoid snobbery so as to remain a pleasant social contribution to the event.

Thank you for everything everyone, and I hope you all have had a most resplendently dressed Christmas!
IMG-20211223-WA0000.jpg

Extra photo of the Top Hat I didn't wear on account of potentially ruining the whole thing from becoming too costumey:
TRUEBeauty.jpg
 

Leiker

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The fit looks good to me, with the exception of the sleeve length on the jacket. They look short to me, but perhaps that is the correct length for such a jacket.
 

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