How To Wear White Tie
If an invitation dictates White Tie as its dress code, you know there is a sense of occasion behind proceedings. Of all the dress code, White Tie trumps (more on the other Trump later) all others and wins by a Mayfair mile in the elegance stakes.
Should you have a White Tie event in your diary, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Rushed, you will be all fingers and thumbs,and believe us, fastening dress studs and collars are not the easiest tasks first time round. Enjoy the process and approach it with calm. The adage, less haste more speed absolutely applies here.
A White Tie ensemble is one of the most flattering ensembles you can wear. Worn correctly, it slims and elongates the body. The key is proportion and good tailoring. Who can forget President Trump’s excessively long Marcella waistcoat, ill-fitting shoulders and excessively long sleeves when he attended a State dinner at Buckingham Palace in the Summer. The tailors and makers of Mayfair and St. James talked of little else, and menswear enthusiasts across the globe wondered how anybody had let him attend in such a get-up; it was a veritable masterclass in how NOT TO wear White Tie and unflatter the form.
When it comes to your waistcoat, it should be white and will likely be cut from either Marcella cotton or silk. There should be no white (waistcoat) line between tailcoat and trousers. The rule is that the lowest tip of the tailcoat frontage should sit just below the lowest tip of the waistcoat. The dark cloth of the tailcoat makes a gentleman look slimmer, so an excess of visible waistcoat reduces the effect; conversely, the light line created by a white/ivory silk square worn in the outbreast pocket, broadens the appearance of the chest, enhancing both silhouette and appearance.
First up, there are plenty of components to White Tie, so lay everything out so as to ensure you have what you need. Attach your shirt collar to the back of the shirt neckband first, before slipping the shirt on. Place cufflinks through the outer holes. This is a handy piece of advice with any shirts that require links. It is easy to fish out the cufflinks and pull through just one hole, as opposed to the frustrating fiddling that occurs when going through both cuffs.
Start at the bottom
One of the handiest tips when it comes to putting your White Tie on, is to dress upwards. Start with your socks, trousers and pumps or lace-ups first. Bending over to put on your shoes is a challenge when you are wearing a stiff bibbed shirt! That said, do button the unseen, basic buttons that sit below the shirt bib. That way you can start to tuck the shirt in, yet avoid the discomfort of being poked and stabbed by your dress studs.
Applying Dress Studs
From here, you add the studs. This is probably the trickiest part of getting dressed and might take a little time, especially if your studs are screw studs. It is almost easier to come up from underneath when putting them on. Keep your studs simple and elegant for White Tie, keeping things discreet.
Next up, it is time to apply your braces (suspenders). Even though they will remain hidden under your vest, opt for white braces, perhaps a pair of moire silk. Your braces should be comfortable to wear and will ensure that your dress trousers have an elegant line and perfect drape. Your white tie trousers must be high waisted with fishtail back and obligatory double braid down the side.
Popping on the waistcoat - your waistcoat is essential to proportion and will say a great deal about the rest of your get-up. In order to have the correct length, the middle button should sit just below or in line with the button on your trouser waistband. Your waistcoat should also include a small loop on it, helping to secure it to your trouser waistband and keeping everything else in place and stops you looking untidy as the night draws on, a nifty detail you will be grateful for. Budd’s waistcoats are backless and feed through a useful ribbon on the yoke of our dress shirts, helping to hold the vest in place at the back neck.
You are now ready to close the collar, using a discreet front collar stud. This can be a little tricky and for ease of comfort and wear, going up a size on the detachable collar is never a bad idea. Finally, apply your white bow. This should be marcella or silk and match to your vest. Self-tied is the aim and provides the most polish. It will give a clean line around the collar band if exposed.
A few extra pointers
If you are wearing a pocket square, you can omit wearing a flower or boutonniere. White tie is about simplicity of colour and line, so avoid the extra distraction.
White Tie is all about elegance through simplicity - noticeable flamboyance makes you less well dressed; keep things subtler and the outfit will stand out better. Never veer off into coloured accessories, in the case of white tie, they make the ultimate faux-pas.
White gloves may be worn with white tie and your tailcoat will host a concealed pocket in the tail flap in which to hide them. However, they are an extra and are not necessary. The same applies for white silk scarf. Wear one if you wish, but it is not de rigueur.
Before entering the event venue proper, we advise that you remove your top coat or cloak. This ensures your entrance is elegant and impactful and saves distraction. White Tie is an indulgent and refined way to dress, don’t waste it.
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