The Essential Rules of Black Tie

Alvin Mahmudov


The Black Tie

Wearing a tuxedo can be a lot like speaking an unfamiliar language. The smallest mistake can ruin the whole effect. Here's how to get it right. 

You can add personal touches after you've nailed the standard. For your basic tux, stick with tradition. This dictates a one-button jacket with peaked lapels, a true pleat-front or marcella-front shirt (with French cuffs), black wool or silk socks, and black patent-leather lace-ups or polished oxfords. Bow tie only, in red or black (and tied yourself-it's the mark of a gentleman). And a cummerbund, of course. 

The pleats of the cummerbund should face upward.

Your cuff links should match your watch: gold with gold, silver with steel, and so on.

Leave your wallet at home and take a money clip instead. It's smaller, so it won't distort the lines of your tux. 

How Not to Look Like a Waiter

No notched lapels-peaked, shawl lapels only. One-button jacket, no three-button. Wear a proper evening shirt. Wear a cummerbund. Tie your own tie, and stop filling other people's glasses. 

The Tuxedo

How do I buy a tuxedo that will be fashionable now and in thirty years?

Try a one - or two-button tux in wool-mohair blend, perhaps in a hopsack weave, the salesperson will understand. With grosgrain lapels, not satin, which is more fragile and shows its age more easily. Choose peaked not notched, lapels, which are less susceptible to the whims of fashion than a shawl collar. Go for the single-pleat pants with waistband side tabs for a bit of size adaptability. Dry-clean no more than once a year, dry cleaning will do more damage to your tux than wearing it will. Keep it in a hanging suit bag on a properly shaped wood hanger when not in use. 


Source: The Handbook of Style

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