The Alternative to Black Tie

Posted on June 1, 2014

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Just because it says “Black tie” doesn’t mean you have to dress in traditional penguin tuxedo. The key is understanding the rationale behind the black tie dresscode. General interpretation is that when the invite states “black tie”, the implication is that it’s a formal affair, requiring gentlemanly elegance in posh surrounds. Still, while every man should own a tux, the more practical amongst us might prefer a jacket combination which can be used across a wide variety of occasions. Ladies and gents, formal affairs don’t have to be boring, the Monsieur suggests the alternative black tie:

The Cream or Light Brown Double Breasted

Cut from pure Larusmiani linen, this sharp, light brown Madison jacket features patch pockets, 6-on-2 button placement, and a wide, slightly curved peaked lapel. Pair it with dark brown trousers and blue accents for a rich style.

Cut from pure Larusmiani linen, this sharp, light brown Madison jacket features patch pockets, 6-on-2 button placement, and a wide, slightly curved peaked lapel. Pair it with dark brown trousers and blue accents for a rich style.

Black is too formal (and boring) and unless you want to potentially be mistaken for the groom, host or (God forbid) the wedding singer, I suggest something with a little more panache. The cream or suitably neutral double breasted jacket. In this example, I have chosen an affordable formal jacket from Suitsupply. The double breasted jacket is a garment of such formality that it was forgotten by all but stereotypical mobsters and thus, a capable replacement for the black satin peak lapel equipped blazers. For a more luxurious touch, you can turn to Tom Ford’s cream shawl lapel jacket.

Sartorial Option 1: Lunch Formal Wear

Zara Printed Cotton Trousers. Ref. 0706/460

Zara Printed Cotton Trousers. Ref. 0706/460

Lunch formal dresscodes are not so much relaxed but by their setting, a little less mundane. Unless your venue is Downton Abbey or another suitably stuffy venue, you could pretty much do with a pair of paisley print trousers from Zara. Granted these won’t be pants you’d be wearing to a professional setting or the workplace (unless you happen to be a creative for an ad agency) but even paired with a denim jacket or dressed down with a black or navy blazer, still appropriate for after-work drinks. Also, don’t forget shades when you’re out to a garden party.

Tom Ford Sunglasses

Tom Ford Sunglasses

Sartorial Option 2: Dinner Formal Wear

Zara Blue Micro-Knit Trousers. Ref. 6861/471

Zara Blue Micro-Knit Trousers. Ref. 6861/471

If sartorially unadventurous, you cannot go wrong with “regulation” blue trousers which can also serve as capable officewear should you tire of typical grey or charcoal pants. For dinners and meeting dignitaries, blue trousers are acceptable while still retaining their head turning qualities without raising eyebrows as opposed to the former recommendation. Maroon is an evergreen alternative – just make sure it’s closer to oxblood red rather than fuschia.

Formalwear Accessories

Printed Foulard

Printed Foulard

If it happens to be black tie dress but tie optional, you can punch up the formal ante without the stuffiness of a bow tie or actual black neck tie with a little neck drapery in the form of a printed scarf.

Mother of Pearl cufflinks

Mother of Pearl cufflinks

While the shirt often goes unnoticed, do take steps to keep in mind that repeated toasts of champagne and/or wine tends to expose one’s cuffs. For that event, you’d best be prepared with a tailored shirt with doctor’s or french cuffs, and they be suitably fastened with these classically beautiful mother of pearl cufflinks.

Palladium finish ardillon buckle, screw motif, reversible black/ dark brown cowhide strap.

Palladium finish ardillon buckle, screw motif, reversible black/ dark brown cowhide strap.

Great cufflinks deserve to be dressed with complimenting classic belts. In this case, I have elected to forgo the all too commonplace Hermes “H” belts for something a little different- a Santos belt crafted by Cartier, inspired by Santos-Dumont, the namesake aviator who encouraged the Maison onto a path of iconic men’s watches.

Pumped Up Kicks

alternative black tie - texture on texture crocskin shoesIf you had elected to go daringly bold with paisley print trousers. This brown pair of texture on texture crocskin shoes will do nicely. If not, black studded oxfords are appropriately formal while still keeping the “fuck you” studs of rebelliousness. It helps that my recommendation for a Cartier Santos belt is reversible in black and brown.

 

alternative black tie - studded oxford shoes

 

 

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Posted in: men's style