Breaking Formal Wear Rules
“The man who knows what to avoid is already the owner of style.” — W. Fowler “And, true to form, most of the male guests dressed in a modern-day approximation of black tie, namely black suits, embroidered black shirts, patent leather shoes and lots and lots of jewellery. Ozzy Ozbourne—who, as well as being The World’s Most Extraordinary Living Rock Star (copyright all newspapers), is also something of an underappreciated natty dresser—turned up in quintessential alternative black tie: bespoke black frock coat, black dress trousers, a simple black T-shirt, snakeskin boots, a huge belt buckle, John Lennon sunglasses, and a bloody big cross at the end of his necklace.” — Dylan Jones So far, I’ve mostly discussed how to correctly make a black-tie look your own. However, it’s also important to mention those formal wear rules one should never, ever break—even those small errors in fit, judgment, or taste that can completely destroy the very idea behind formal attire. Each of these rules depends on two main principles:
- You must never insult your host.
- Your clothes are never more important than you
Never draw too much attention to your clothes“Choose your clothes carefully, but don’t talk about them, please, as one mention of a bespoke suit has been known to suck all breathable oxygen from a room and render everyone unconscious.” — Dylan Jones [caption id="attachment_347" align="aligncenter" width="266"] A classic black tuxedo is the perfect option. It looks great and is never too much at a formal event.[/caption] Similarly, no particular item of clothing should draw undue attention to itself—unless you’re a (real) rock star, that is, in which case you can do whatever you want. The rest of us mere mortals, on the other hand, must stay within reach of the rules.
- Never wear a shiny tuxedo (or a shiny dinner jacket with regular matte trousers)
- If you wear a velvet dinner jacket, make sure it’s perfectly tailored and that it’s clearly differentiated in some way as formal wear
Never break these simple styling rules[caption id="attachment_349" align="alignright" width="190"] Double-Breasted Tuxedos are the only ones that should be fully buttoned![/caption]
- Unless you’re wearing a double-breasted suit, never button the last button of your dinner jacket.
- Never leave your shirt unbuttoned.
- Don’t let shirt front peek out from beneath your waistcoat (or through your properly buttoned dinner jacket in the absence of waistcoat or cummerbund).
- A bow tie is always more formal than a straight tie; if you must wear a straight tie, make it skinny and make sure that it’s not too shiny!