White Tie - An Elegant History

White tie is the original formal dress code and is regarded as the highest level of elegance. It is traditionally worn with a stiff, starched linen shirt and a clean, white, stiff and starched collar to keep up with appearances. The modern detachable collar dates its origins to the late 1820s. It is said that an American woman, tired of continuously washing her husband's full shirt, cut the collar off and the detachable collar was born. This enabled the shirt to be reused, whilst easing the lady's task of revitalising the collar.

White tie in it's original form began to fade around 1928 when Edward VIII, Prince of Wales at the time, attended a dinner in a short evening jacket, from then on the formal necessity and popularity of white tie and tails faded somewhat.

This then led to the marcella, the secondary version of the stiff linen shirt, which should also be starched. As the Marcella is semi-stiff, it is a shade more comfortable than the linen version; but it must be noted that there are occasions when it is still deemed inappropriate (pay heed if you are a guest of the Queen, for example).  Here at Budd we offer both the stiff starched linen shirt, semi-stiff starchable shirt as well as the marcella.

Sartorial Tips:

  • It is best advised to wear a swiss hand rolled white cotton pocket square when wearing marcella. If you are wearing Moire or corded silk, a silk square is preferable.
  • When choosing your bow tie, a self tie bow tie should always be chosen to ensure a clean line to the outfit. It is strongly recommended that not to wear a ready made bow as the clip can be seen on the wing collar and it does not lie flat.

Visit our White Tie guide here.


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