Grey Fox on Black Tie

Dress codes have become a bit of a nightmare. Recent codes such as casual, smart casual, lounge suit and cocktail are unclear and open to wide interpretation. This is fine for the confident man of style, but for most of us the uncertainty means that you can’t be sure what everyone else will be wearing at the event you’re attending.

David Evans wearing Black Tie at Glyndebourne

It’s therefore a relief to be invited to a black tie event. In common with other more traditional codes - white tie and morning dress - you know what to wear and can be sure that you’ll fit in with the other guests (which is the military-inspired idea of older dress codes). The great advantage of shopping at Budd for your black tie outfit is that you’ll find classic products that make you look your best and you’ll be able to wear for years to come.

I’m a bit fussy about these older dress codes. Black tie is just that - a black bow tie. I know many disagree and will wear coloured bow ties or even neckties - but I’m old-old-fashioned in that way. It’s simply respectful to the host to stick to a dress code. However, for anything other than the colour and shape of the tie, black tie is open to more creativity that you may think.

"Black tie is just that - a black bow tie. I know many disagree and will wear coloured bow ties or even neckties - but I’m old-old-fashioned in that way."

The traditional evening suit (black or dark blue with silk lapel facings and silk braid down the trouser leg), white dress shirt, plain oxford shoes (often patent leather) and black silk bow tie (preferably self-tied rather than pre-tied) is the default. However, there is room for adding colour in the form of a velvet evening jacket or tuxedo (a smoking jacket is one variation of this) or lightweight cream or white in summer. The tuxedo can be almost any hue, rich red, bottle green, navy blue are the commonest. Some may even have a modest pattern.

Evening shirts can be kept simple; my favourite is Budd’s tailored marcella shirt, but you may prefer a pleated front. I’d urge caution with coloured evening shirts; cream or Budd’s subtle pink are as far as I’d go. I tend to avoid wing collars; strictly they are for white tie not black, but I accept that their use is becoming commoner.

You can add personality and interest with enamel dress studs, cummerbund or waistcoat, a silk evening scarf, a pocket square and even some plain coloured socks - Budd offers an excellent selection here.

So, in summary, I urge caution in breaking out too far from the comforting certainty of the black tie dress code - keep it classic and enjoy expressing your personality within its confines.

Shop Budd's Black Tie here.

David Evans is one of the leading voices on menswear in the UK and runs the successful blog www.greyfoxblog.com. Follow him on instagram @greyfoxblog


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