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White tie is the most formal evening dress code, and, like black tie, may only be worn after 6pm (morning dress being the appropriate dress for afternoon formal occasions). It is worn to events such as balls, operas, state banquets etc.
The most frequent wearers of white tie are probably classical musicians, for whom such attire is commonly worn to perform in. The requirements for White Tie are strictly defined, and are as are follows.
White cotton with a stiff white marcella or boiled cotton front, single (not double!) link cuffs (rather tricky find!), stiff wing tip collar and black, white or diamond stud fasteners.
The TieWhite (obviously!) cotton Marcella Bow Tie
As for Black Tie, a dress waistcoat (but not a cummberbund) is of course required to smooth over the edge of the shirt and the trouser waistband! The traditional evening waistcoat has a low-buttoning design to conceal the trouser waist and the suspenders without obscuring the formal shirt's elegantly decorated bib. It is also notable for being dressed with lapels and has double-welted flapless pockets, to hold (if you have one!) a pocket watch. For White Tie, waistcoat should be made with white cotton marcella with three mother-of-pearl buttons - all of which should be fastened (unlike for non-formal waistcoats). The edge of the waistcoat should not extend beyond the edge of the tailcoat.
Trousers and SuspendersThe correct trousers for White Tie are 'fishtail' trousers that sit on the waist (rather than the hips) and have a high, split back with buttons to which the suspenders are fastened. The trousers should be in the same black fabric as the jacket and have a double stripe of either silk satin or grossgrain ribbon (matching the jacket lapels).
The JacketBlack wool tailcoat with shawl or peaked lapels of silk satin or grossgrain; the cut front reaches the waist and covers the waistcoat while the tails should not fall below the knees. The jacket has silk covered button on both breasts but is never fastened
The CoatChesterfield overcoat, Inverness Cape or Opera Cloak in cashmere, velvet or satin.
SocksBlack silk ribbed knee high socks; these are available in departments store such as Harrods and Selfridges and apparently the best are made by Pantherella.
HatThe correct hat to wear to a white tie function is a top hat. It is optional, but should be worn with with a coat or cloak.
Scarf and GlovesBoth in white silk
CaneBlack, optional (but certainly fun)
ShoesThe shoes required are a bit of a curiosity - black opera pumps with a grossgrain bow
Handkerchief and/or boutonierreWhite linen; gardenia
OtherMinature medals, neck riband and Sash
As you can see, full white tie is certainly an adventure in dressing, and something that, if attempted, must be done right - for if you are wearing it, you can be sure that you will be in the kind of company who will notice if it's wrong!
Although modern black tie is the most formal outfit that the majority of gentlemen ever wear, a dinner jacket was once the most informal option for evening wear, traditional white tie attire of tails and a white waistcoat being the only acceptable choice for formal evening occasions.
The first 'dinner jacket' was created in 1860, when Henry Poole Co. crafted a short smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales to wear to informal dinner parties as an alternative to white tie dress.
Throughout the 20th Century, what constitutes 'black tie' continued to evolve (most notably the invention of the cummerbund) to the point where the modern definition of the dress code is quite flexible. The most popular combination of black jacket, cummerbund and bowtie of course being immortalised by James Bond, the dress codes' most well-known proponent. Modern black tie can be worn for a variety of formal and semi-formal evening events taking place after 6pm. The dinner jacket is almost always black, but it doesn't have to be. Midnight blue is a very stylish and less common choice - an excellent example being our version here, worn for an evening Winter wedding - and white is acceptable for tropical climes.
The jacket should either have a one-button single breasted, or 4 button 2 fastening double breasted front, a shawl or peaked collar and silk satin or grosgrain covered lapels, pocket flaps and buttons - but I also love velvet rather than satin for an unexpected contemporary touch. Some modern jackets have notched lapels but I personally do not advise this style for evening. The shirt must be white with double cuffs and a wing collar, but aside from that the style can be quite flexible. Pin-tucked fronts and covered buttons are acceptable, as are marcella bib-fronted styles with studs as worn for white tie.
Unlike for white tie, split-back trousers with suspenders are not required. Regular black trousers with a satin or grosgrain side seam will suffice, but I would strongly advise choosing no belt loops, no back pockets and vertical side pockets for a clean look
It seems that these days cummerbunds - which have their origins in British Indian Military dress - are more popular than waistcoats for black tie. They are worn with the pleats facing upwards, traditionally in the same fabric as the facings on the jacket. Strictly speaking, the cummerbund should be black but for slightly less formal occasions, dark red and other jewel tone silks are acceptable - A Suit That Fits now makes beautiful bespoke cummerbunds in a variety of shades. If you choose a waistcoat, a low-cut U or V-shaped, double or single breasted black or white version can be worn
Black patent or highly polished Oxfords or brogues; black fine wool or silk socks.
The standard and often the only acceptable tie to wear with a dinner jacket is of course a black silk bow tie, in either satin or grosgrain. For less formal occasions, you may get away with a dark jewel-coloured bowtie - only you can be the judge of what is acceptable for your particular event! We now also do bespoke silk bowties, so you'll have no concerns over fit.
The pocket squareWhite handkerchief in linen, silk or cotton must be worn
Scarf and glovesWhite silk
TimepieceTraditionally, visible watches are not worn with formal dress, as timekeeping is not a priority. However, a pocket watch or slender, plain wristwatch may be worn.
Cufflinks and studsGold, silver, mother-of-pearl or onyx - we stock a variety of suitable options.
Most people hire black tie as required but there is nothing sloppier and more unbecoming than eveningwear that doesn't properly fit - so it's best to make the investment and and go bespoke. Here at A Suit That Fits we can create bespoke dinner jackets, waistcoats, shirts and dinner accessories in almost any style you desire - visit the dinner jacket style wizard to get started and create your perfect garment!
We have a rather special jacket in our City Road branch at the moment. Sitting surreptitiously in my office, it's attracting quite a bit of attention. Crafted for one of our long-time customers to wear to formal army dinners, the jacket in question features shawl collars, a 4 button all-fastening double-breasted front and elaborate black cording details.
It' made up out of our rich, forest-green moleskin velvet. At this time of year, a lot of the men I know ask me for advice on what to wear to winter parties, dinners, weddings and 'to the clubs'.
I understand where they're coming from - it can get boring wearing jeans, and a full suit can be too stiff and formal. This is where separates can really shine. David Minns wrote an article extolling the virtues of his tailored separates trousers and indeed there are many great variations on this theme - cashmere herringbone fabrics also work well and I was quite impressed by a recent date's black-and-white puppy-tooth trousers.
Jackets can be a little trickier, as a bog-standard suit jacket can look a little odd with jeans. Two fabrics that you may not have considered are corduroys and velvets.
Velvet, as I have already discussed in my earlier blog, is a pile fabric. It takes on rich, dark hues when dyed and its soft texture, depth of colour and pile give a luxurious feel, making it the perfect choice for evening wear separates. A lot of men may not feel quite at home wearing such a fabric but so long as it's expertly tailored into a sharp shape then it's great for menswear. Try a bespoke velvet jacket for upcoming Christmas and New Year parties or winter weddings when you want to look a little dressier and stand out from the crowd. If you can't quite handle an entire jacket of velvet you can add a discreet touch to the collar of your bespoke overcoat or lapel of your dinner jacket.
Corduroy is also a pile fabric; I like to think of it as velvet's informal cousin. It is woven in a similar manner to velvet except for the extra sets of fibers are woven into the base fabric in rows, producing clear vertical ridges called wales when the fabric is cut into pile. Corduroy is usually woven out of wool or cotton and is a durable fabric ideal for light jackets or more casual tailored trousers; it's more the kind of fabric you choose for sipping pints in the pub in front of an open fire.
If you can't handle an entire jacket of velvet or corduroy, you can always use it as a trimming fabric. I love velvet piping and pocket flaps on a tweed jacket - just dressy enough to raise a standard blazer above the norm.
I feel it's appropriate to begin my first post in several weeks with a confession. So here it is - I am short. Really very short - 5'1'' on a good day. On the rare occasions that I confess this statistic to acquaintances, I am often met with surprise - sure, people know I'm short, but most don't seem to realise quite how short I am.
Why is this, you may ask? Well, I have to confess that big hair, big heels and a direct personality certainly help, but it's also down to what I wear.
If, like me, you are on the more petite side then there are lots of dressing tricks you can use to disguise this fact. Dressing a short or petite body can be challenging if you are shopping on the high street, but it's not as hard as you might think. Here are my top tips for the vertically challenged (a lot of these tips are also appropriate for slim builds, regardless of height). 1) Fit
This is absolutely crucial. Wearing properly fitting garments is the single most effective thing that you can do to downplay the fact that you are lacking in the height department. One of the biggest 'give aways' that you are short are garments that are too large and long - perfectly cut and fitted tailored items will do more for you than a pair of 'lift its' ever will.
- Always go for a slim fit shirts, jackets and trousers even if you are not used to it. Don't drown your smaller from frame in too much fabric - keep it tailored and neat. Our bespoke suits and shirts are made exactly to your measurements are and ideal.
- Too-long sleeves, trousers and, most importantly, jackets will draw attention to your size; conversely correct proportions will conceal.
- A petit man in a too-long jacket will always look like a teenager in a hand-me-down - make sure that your jacket comes no lower than your crotch in front only just covers your seat.
- avoid low waisted trousers, as they shorten the legs.
-trouser hems can be 0.5 longer than 'standard' to add extra length to the legs, but should under no circumstances bunch up at the back! Similarly, suit sleeves can be a little longer than the standard so long as you maintain that perfect 0.5 of cuff.
2) ProportionAn oft-forgotten contributor to overall look, the proportions of your garment should be considered second only to fit. If all the details of your clothing are proportional to your frame then it's harder for the frame to look small.
- avoid any outsize details such as chunky belts, big buttons or wide lapels. A lightly narrowed lapel is flattering on a compact, slim gentleman.
- Petite ladies should consider short, hip-length jackets and high-waisted skirts to lengthen the legs; tall heels paired with long trousers will also give you inches. Generally I find straight trousers (wide or slim) more leg-lengthening than bootcut.
3) StyleAlways think neat, clean, and streamlined - don't overwhelm your small frame with extras.
- For jackets, stick to one or two button fastenings; their longer lapels lengthen the torso. Ladies should go for a sharp, nipped-in one-button blazer.
- Slanted pockets on the jacket lengthen the upper body.
- Chose 3 rather than 4 buttons on the sleeve to maintain proportion with arm length.
- Avoid ticket pockets that clutter the torso.
- Chose side adjusters on your trousers. Wearing a belt shortens the legs and creates an unwanted horizontal line right across the torso; beltless trousers with no loops create a cleaner look and allow the eye to run right down the body, creating an illusion of extra height
- Flat-fronted slim cut trousers lengthen and streamline the legs.
- No more than 2 pockets on waistcoats! As always, avoid extra horizontal lines
- ladies - avoid frou-frou styles with lots of fabric
4) Colour and fabricIt's a myth that short people should wear only dark colours - it doesn't add any inches! However, I do recommend that shorter people avoid large, busy patterns and stick with more subtle alternatives and plain colours (for example, I own very few printed items).
- patterns with vertical details, such as a herringbone, work better on shorter frames than other patterns such as birdeyes and checks; I recommend our RTallwool-100215 range
- patterns should always be proportional - so look for smaller herringbones and closer, finer pinstripes. Large patterns can overwhelm small frames.
- for shirts, chose a stripe over a check
- generally, avoid heavy, bulky fabrics
5) WardrobeAll these tips are all very well but what about putting it all together? Careful wardrobe planning is the icing on the cake for the perfect petit look.
- Keep it clean and uncluttered - don't have too much going on in your outfit at once. A patterned suit should be paired with a plainer shirt and tie, and vice versa
- Similarly, don't bring in too many colour families. Keeping things in the same 'tone' adds a lean, uncluttered air
- Exercise careful use of accessories.
- A tailored suit is an ideal garment for a petit man, simply because having the top half of the body matching the bottom lengthens things out. Ladies - this tip goes for you, too!
- For jeans, stick with more slim, tailored styles. Avoid both low-rise skinny jeans and bulky, baggy styles with lots of pockets.
- Be wary of the garment layering that is oh-so-popular in modern times - it breaks up the body.
- A simple sheath dress is a great choice for ladies
- Match your socks to your trousers, and some advocate matching your shoes as well. (Personally, I like an interesting shoe so I disregard this tip with relish).
For further advice and help with wardrobe planning, just drop me an email to email@example.com or book an appointment with me in our City Road branch.
Why do you have to press your new suit? Because tailors do not press garments, they make garments. Retailers and dry cleaners press garments, not tailors. Ideally, choose a local dry cleaner of repute, and remember, you are only having your garments pressed, and NOT dry cleaned!.
It is worth mentioning to the dry cleaner that the suit is a new bespoke suit, and has therefore not been pressed before, so they are not merely repressing an off-the-peg, which was pressed before it got to the store (floor ready).
If the dry cleaner is really worth their salt, and specialises in hand-pressing, you may want to ask them to hand press the lapels so that they 'roll', as opposed pressing them with a crease. Daily Care for your Suit
Having sported your new A Suit That Fits.com suit for the first time (read same for the second, third, fourth and everytime), endeavour to brush it with a soft bristled clothes brush, before you store it. This can be done whilst you are still wearing your suit, or once it is hanging, to remove dust, keep the nap (the fibres) raised, and helps prevent it becoming shiny in problem areas i.e. knees, elbows and trouser seat.
Who knows what was going through the heads of runway designers in the height of summer 2009 as they prepared their spring/summer 2010 collections. Maybe they had a sixth sense that we'd be sick of winter weather by February and in need of something more fresh and spring-like, or perhaps they're more optimistic than some about the state of the economy; perhaps they feel that we've turned the corner and are in need of some light relief?.
Either way, this optimism has been strongly reflected in the colour palette of their various collections; delicate candy pastel shades are shaping up to be one of the most influential trends of the season. The runways were awash with shades of ecru, duck egg blue, pistachio, lavender, rose, lemon and all manner of candy-coloured hues, dominating many spring/summer collections from big hitters such as Valentino and Versace to up-and-coming London-based designers Louise Goldin, Christopher Kane and knitwear specialist Mark Fast. The trend for pastels harks back to several Gianni Versace campaigns of the mid-90s, and, as such, is perfectly in keeping with the overall 90s-influenced look of this spring, which also incorporates the classic items discussed in our previous 'Styleflash' column and an overall cleaner, more minimalist style.
For many, this candy-hued palette is a welcome change following a winter season dominated by shades of black, grey and navy; spring's delicate pastels feeling especially refreshing and feminine after 2009's leather-studded padded-shouldered 80-influenced looks. For fans of the trend, the choice of items is almost unlimited, as pastel shades came sauntering down the runway in all manner of pieces - twisted chiffon dresses and silk trenchcoats at Burberry Prosum, floaty feminine blouses at Fendi and Nina Ricci, belted skirt suits from Donna Karan, knitwear (Mark Fast), slouchy tailoring (Preen), layered silk cocktail dresses (Valentino)- the list is endless!. The key to pulling of this trend is to make sure it doesn't get too twee or overtly girly - the easiest way to do this is to maintain a sharp, clean, tailored silhouette. For those that really want a to embrace the pastel trend, our bespoke tailored ladies skirt suit is the way forward - chose a single button jacket and wear it belted, which is the most up-to-the minute style for ladies tailoring. For those that don't want to go quite that far, separates trousers or a waistcoat are less of a commitment while still remaining bang on trend. Our ladies trousers are tailor-made exactly to your measurements to eliminate all those irritating fitting problems one may find with off-the-peg garments, and you can have them made in exactly the style you desire - from wide-legged turn ups to skinny to peg-leg.
We have a number of candy-coloured shades in our extensive suiting fabric range that are suitable for spring suits and separates, including cream, light blue, dusky rose pink and violet.
The most fool-proof way of wearing Spring's watercolour shades is to snap up a couple of our made-to-measure ladies shirts, which are available in a large variety of pastels, in both plains and textured fabrics. Why not try our newest ladies shirt style, with a v-neck and three-quarter length sleeves? The following fabrics are appropriate -
Pale greens - medium herringbone
In my final 'StyleFlash' blog on this year's Spring trends, I shall discuss one that, like the stripes and spots trend, has already hit the high street with a vengeance - nudes and neutrals. 90's inspired minimalist looks had a strong representation on the Spring/Summer runways, and now, as then, these styles work best in muted neutral shades.
The style was presented in all kinds of greys, creams, beiges, taupes and a multitude of flesh tones; and it is these colours that look to be dominating the shops for the majority of the early spring months and are currently being paraded down various red carpets by a multitude of celebrities. Spring/Summer collections that contained neutral pieces include the always-cool Alexander Wang, Versace, Fendi, Donna Karan, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Jil Sandler, Givenchy, Celine, Chloe and Stella McCartney - there's no denying that this is a massive trend. However, of all of the Spring trends, flesh tones and neutral colours are some of the most difficult to pull off.
Worn correctly, they give the skin a creamy tone, brighten the face and look fresh and modern; worn wrongly and you may look like a zombie. If you'd rather be in style without looking like a member of the eternal undead, then follow my guidelines below: Make-upThe right make-up is key to pulling off neutral and nude colours. Make skin glow by highlighting the forehead, cheekbones and cupids bow, and wear a peachy-pink blush. You're also going to need lipcolour; wearing a neutral colour next to the face means that you can wear a strong lip without it being overwhelming. Try a rich red for a classic look. ToneIf you don't know what 'season' you are, then now is a good time to find out, as your skin undertone (blue or yellow) determines which shades of neutral you can wear. If you can, take a good look at any neutral item you're considering in natural sunlight; greys will have a blue or yellow undertone, whilst nudes (like foundation shades) will have a either pink or yellow undertone. Often slightly sallow skin has a blue undertone, for this type of skin it is essential to avoid creams and taupes with a yellow base; instead chose blue-based greys and blush-nudes with a pink undertone.
ColourNeutrals can get a bit dull when they're worn with black, but they shouldn't be mixed with brights. Instead, wear neutrals with deep colours such as navy, dark green and burgundy.
A lot of us ladies tend to wear black suits for work - for a more Spring look, switch your black for grey. Our bespoke ladies suits can be made for you in many shades and types of grey fabrics - my favourite are our silk and wool blends, which have a luxurious sheen and elegant drape. For those who are braver, a tailored ladies suit jacket in nude, cream, white or stone is the way forward - Donna Karan sent a plethora of belted skirt suits down her runway in these colours. Here is my very classic ladies separates jacket in ivory . The following fabrics are also suitable for this look - WD-1 (lightest grey), W1004 (beige), FLA-6 (light taupe), RTBE-1 (deep cream birdeye), linen-1 (white), linen-5 (ecru), linen-19 (nude) and PTD-8122-3 (wool/silk blend, light beige with a subtle texture and faint blue pin stripe).
We can also tailor for you the perfect pair of runway designer-inspired neutral-coloured ladies trousers from slouchy stone-cloured straight legs, to high-waisted wide legged pants, to high-waisted double-pleated tan chinos; click here for our version.
A Suit That Fits.com also offers tailor-made ladies shirts in various neutral shades, including greys (plain twill, large herringbone), creams (plain twill, large herringbone,box weave) and ivories (plain weave). Chose from full or three-quarter length sleeves, button-up or v-neck and a large variety of collar, cuff and button styling options.
My own feelings on this trend? Well, let just say they're not particularly neutral. If, like me, you have the very celtic combination of near-black hair and near-white skin, then this is probably one trend that's best avoided. If not, simply click to start designing your perfect neutral shirt, trousers or jacket.
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