Dress code: BLACK TIE
JB: I already have a dinner jacket.
VL: There are dinner jackets and then there are dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I
need you to look like a man who belongs at that table.
As Miss. Vesper Lyndt remembers to us, there are dinner jackets and dinner jackets.
And since I want you “to look like a man who belongs at that table”, I am here to
show you the way.
A small excursus. Originally, the smoking, or more properly smoking jacket, was an
indoor jacket used in the evening by British noblemen to enjoy an excellent cigar next
to the fireplace and a good bottle of brandy, to protect their suits from the smell of
smoke and consequently not to annoy their ladies once back to the boudoir.
Legend has it that in 1865, the Prince of Wales, who would have become Edward the
VII, commissioned to Henry Poole a short smoking jacket. To satisfy the requests
made by the future sovereign, the Savile Row tailor only had to cut the tails from an
evening dress to create what would have become THE evening suit shortly
Then, in 1880, it became popular also in the United States, where the young dandy
Griswold Lorillard, frequently wore it at the Tuxedo Club in Cinnaminson, New
Jersey, and consequently introduced it to the local dress code with the name of Tuxedo.
Color : the smoking is born in black. It grows in black. And will die in black..
Only two colors are accepted as an alternative:
• midnight blue, created upon request of the Duke of Windsor, used by l’Avvocato Gianni Agnelli, brought back on top by Tom Ford;
• white, used only for the jacket, to be used during summer only or in tropical countries for open air parties.
Midnight blue, created upon request of the Duke of Windsor, used by l’Avvocato Gianni Agnelli, brought back on top by Tom Ford; white, used only for the jacket, to be used during summer only or in tropical countries for open air parties.
Jacket : Single or double – breasted, it doesn’t have to be too tight, yet it has to underline the body shape. To be worn at a classic length, it is forbidden to wear it short. The shoulder is customarily british, which means structured. Lately, it is also accepted a softer, more modern, unconstructed shoulder. Never wear a “spalla camicia’ with Neapolitan pleats, which will look too messy.
Lapels are black and made of satin, they are either peak or shawl, those latter are more similar to the British original. It is always worn buttoned, except in case of wearing a waistcoat. Buttons are covered with the same cloth of the suit and usually the jacket only has one.
Trousers : BLACK.It has a side stripe made of the same cloth used for lapels, to cover side seams and has no belt loops. They are supported by suspenders, black or white. A cummerband, which also substituted the waistcoat during hot summer evenings, was used to cover the suspenders loops. Nowadays, the cummerband is less used, letting suspenders on display.
Shoes : Initially they were really low necked “slippers”, made of velvet or patented leather, always black, adorned by a silk knot, in black as well. Now, black not brogued Oxfords made in patented leather are preferred. Classic black shiny polished Oxfords can be used as an alternative. It is extremely forbidden to use any other color. !
Bow tie : To self tie. NEVER use a pre-tied one, it is a symbol of bad taste. It is made of satin or silk, exclusively black. On invitations it is indeed written “black tie” to indicate the black bow tie. For instance a normal black tie is unacceptable.
The white bow tie has to be worn with the full evening dress only.
Shirt : WHITE.
Made of cotton or silk, but rigorously white and to be worn with cufflinks.
Normally with a double cuff, it can have a fold on the front part to cover the empty
space left on the chest by the bow tie.
To be used without any fold if wearing a waistcoat, it has mother of pearl buttons or
cufflink buttons to be removed before washing.
The collar can be closed in the Italian way or with a diplomatic collar, with its wings
to be worn downwards, under the bow tie knot. It is a big mistake to wear a bow tie
with the collar wings on the outside.
• Socks : Black in lisle, knee high and thin, without any kind of weave
• Pocket square : worn with a puff if made of silk, folded with three points or with a straight line if made of cotton;
• Boutonniere : to be worn as an alternative to the pocket square, it is appropriate in red, more specifically a carnation. A white flower is reserved to the full evening dress only;
• Watch: if you are wearing a waistcoat, then you will use a thin pocket watch. If you prefer the wrist, then it will always be thin and not to be shown off.
Context : Use it only in case of necessity. If specifically requested by the invitation (BLACK TIE). Being the only one to wear a tuxedo can be embarrassing. Use it in an appropriate way, learning how to wear it. To be used only after six pm.
In case symptoms (of ill dressing) persist, immediately contact a doctor.
With the hope of having been useful, and maybe to have opened your mind on some simple notion, I dismiss myself. Happy party to all of you!
Federico Lapo Bonini