I’m going to go through 10 black tie rules that you should always observe.
Fabrics For the Lapel and Bow Tie Should Match
First and foremost, match the fabric of your lapel to the fabric of your bow tie. Wear a satin bow tie if your lapel is satin. Wear a grosgrain bow tie if your lapel is grosgrain. It just doesn’t seem right when you mix and match.
The only exception is if your jacket has a self-facing lapel, which means it is made of the same fabric as your jacket. If your lapel is facing inward, you can wear whatever you want.
Satin, in my opinion, looks better in certain situations. The velvet bow tie is another wild card. A velvet bow tie does not wear a velvet lapel. A velvet bow tie, in my opinion, looks best with a self-facing shawl lapel.
However, if you’re going for a truly classic black tie appearance, a velvet bow tie should be reserved for a dinner jacket and a more joyous occasion such as New Year’s Eve.
No Clip-On or Self-Tied Bow Ties
Number two, when it comes to bow ties, avoid clip-on bow ties. Please. It appears cheesy, cheap, and far too flawless.
One of the more intriguing things I’ve discovered in the world of men’s style is that when things appear to be too flawless, they just appear to be incorrect. Every man should be able to tie his own bow tie, especially when it comes to getting suited up in a tuxedo.
Wear On A Cummerbund
Make sure you’re wearing a cummerbund for number three. Details count, and paying attention to them says a lot about you, especially when we’re talking about a highly strict dress code.
The cummerbund envelops the waist and gives the entire black tie ensemble a sense of cohesion and completion.
The lapel and bow tie rules apply here as well. Wear a satin cummerbund if your lapel is satin. The lapel is grosgrain, and the cummerbund is grosgrain. If it’s a self-facing lapel, it’s entirely up to you. Satin, in my opinion, looks better in this case.
Last but not least, when wearing a cummerbund, make sure the pleats are facing up.
No Regular Suits With Bow Ties
The fourth rule is to avoid wearing a standard suit with a bow tie. You don’t have a tux unless you have a tux. A suit with a bow tie, on the other hand, is not a tuxedo alternative.
You’ll appear absolutely out of place, to put it bluntly.
Don’t Try to Be Innovative
Number five, don’t be inventive, since we’re on the subject of looking out of place. This is not the moment to stand out and draw attention to oneself at a black tie event.
One of the characteristics of black tie is that it is a dress code that is intended to make everyone appear uniform.
In cases like this, paying attention to details, especially fit, is a great way to stand out.
You will look terrific and stand out if you are in a room full of tuxedos and yours fits precisely. Don’t think outside the box unless the invitation clearly states “creative black tie.”
Wear On The Appropriate Tuxedo Shirt
Sixth, make sure you’re wearing the appropriate shirt. When it comes to black tie, not all shirts are created equal, and there are a few details to keep in mind.
A turned-down collar, not a wing collar, should be worn. For white tie, a wing collar is worn. Make sure you have a double or French cuff for the right level of formality when it comes to cuffs.
The front of the shirt might be pleated, have a Marcella bib, or be plain for a more modern look. You could even have a fly front. A stud set and cufflinks are usually a wonderful idea.
Renting a Tuxedo is a Bad Idea
Don’t rent a tux, number seven. They’re inexpensive, but they don’t fit properly. That’s not who you are.
You want to look and feel your best if you’re going to wear a tux. That’s not going to happen in a rented tuxedo that’s too small and ill-fitting.
A tuxedo is an investment, but one that pays for itself in the long run.
It’s All About the Details
Number eight, if you’re having your own tux built, pay close attention to a few specifics.
The satin stripe should run down the side of the pants, which should have a plain bottom. Only pockets that are jetted are allowed.
A tuxedo with notch lapels should be avoided. The peak is the most traditional, while the shawl is a touch more laid-back.
The addition of a double vent is a nice modern touch.
Wear the Proper Footwear
Number nine, make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear. They must be black, and they must be simple.
They should, at the very least, be a pair of well-polished black Oxfords. Patent leather is more often associated with white tie, but it is equally suitable.
It’s preferable to be overdressed than underdressed.
Loafers, such as a velvet slipper or a suede loafer, are normally saved for more relaxed black tie occasions, such as something at someone’s home, as oxymoronic as that may sound.
You can wear them as long as you keep in mind the overall formality of the event.
Only Black Silk Socks
Finally, number ten, sock selection.
You must wear black silk stockings if you want to do black tie properly.
Again, this is a tiny detail, but it says a lot about you if you pay attention to it.
A watch is a bonus topic. Is it appropriate to wear a watch with a black tie?
It’s a touchy subject. And let me just say that, while I am more or less a rigid rule follower when it comes to the black tie dress code, I believe that wearing a watch is perfectly fine.
But not just any watch; it should be a timepiece with a black leather strap that matches your other metals.
That is all there is to it.
Those are my ten black tie rules that I believe you should always observe.