Bespoke After Dark – Black Tie Affairs

Dec 4, 2016

The holiday season is upon us and that means the Black Tie Affairs are in full force. Dressing for these can be a dilemma, especially if you’re not prepared, but it’s not as hard as you might think. The strict dress code of a black tie affair actually makes things very simple. First things first, you should never rent a tuxedo. Women spend lots of time and effort getting ready for formal events and a true gentleman will do the same, so stop renting, it’s amateurish and a sure way to get you on the worst dressed list at a party.

Here are a few tips about all the essentials every gentleman should have so he can be dapper at a moments notice.


Always opt for peak or shawl lapels. Notch collars are indicative of the suit being of the rack. Traditionally the jacket is worn ventless, however, two vents on the sides is completely acceptable and more comfortable. Beware of the middle vent which is an easy way to spot a rental. Most tuxedo jackets are single breasted with silk or grosgrain facing, although double breasted is making its way on to the scene, opt for single breasted to stay traditional. A buttonhole on the left lapel is usually the standard on peak and notch jackets, but not on shawl jackets.


The tuxedo trousers are pretty simple and straightforward. The trousers should be made out of the same material as your jacket, with the exception of dinner jackets, which we will discuss in an upcoming blog.

They should generally be worn higher than a traditional trouser so that your cummerbund will fully cover the waist and they don’t have belt loops. Pleats are acceptable but a flat front pant exudes an elegance that pleats will not be able to match.

Waistcoat or Cummerbund

Both of these options are acceptable.

If you choose to wear a waistcoat, it should also be made of the same material as the jacket and trousers. There are a few different options with the waistcoat but if you want to keep with tradition, wear one that is low cut and with or with out a lapel. If the waistcoat has a lapel, it should match the lapel of your jacket, otherwise opt for a low cut waistcoat without a lapel.

Another option is a cummerbund. The cummerbund is a sash worn at the waist made of silk or grosgrain. Traditionally the cummerbund is black but if you must wear color always go for dark, rich colors such as navy or burgundy.

Either one of these options should cover your waistband.


The shirt should be white and have an bib (rectangular square that is pleated or piqued) with studs instead of buttons or a hidden button placket. The cuffs should ALWAYS be French cuffs. Your cuff links don’t have to match your button studs but the hardware should be the same color, gold with gold and silver with silver. Your collar choices are wing or turndown. Either one of these is acceptable but you will definitely get more wear out of a turndown collar.


Braces should be worn with the cummerbund covering them. Never EVER use clip on suspenders for black tie affairs, or anytime after grade school for that matter.

Bow Tie

This, of course, should be black and NEVER pre tied. I recommend a substantial size bow, however any style will work. Choose a style that will compliment your facial features. The butterfly style is one that works well for everyone.


Options here are formal loafers or formal lace ups. Patent leather only works with formal attire and you won’t get much wear from it otherwise, so we recommend to put that money elsewhere, like a pair of smooth black oxfords with a good shine. Formal loafers have gained popularity and have become very popular on the red carpet in recent years. There are several style and color options when it comes to loafers but again, black is the way to go.

The Finishing touches

When is doubt, less is more.

As always, make sure your hair is groomed, including facial hair and don’t forget to wear the most important accessory of all, confidence.

If you have any fashion related questions or want to suggest a topic for an upcoming blog, you can email them to

I’ll be happy to answer them.

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