Formal Attire And Black Tie Style Guide

by | Fashion Wisdom, Groom, Wisdom


Kathryn Blom

Image by Bruce Loves Susie via Groom Style – Joe

If you are an avid follower of Polka Dot Bride you will know that a couple weeks ago I wrote about the semi formal wedding. These days if you get invited to a formal wedding that usually means black tie or morning suits. Black tie remains the standard for formal events. Over time it has evolved subtly however if you follow a few basic rules you can pull it off with ease and grace. When everyone looks the same it is those subtle differences and attention to detail and dressing appropriately that makes all the difference. Here is a black tie style guide to make those formal events (like your wedding) easy!

Invest in a good black tie suit.
It isn’t that hard to spot the difference between a great quality suit and a rental particularly if it doesn’t fit perfectly. A great black tie suit is one you will only wear a handful of times a year but it will last for at least a decade. If you can invest in a classic suit that fits you properly you will always look good. It is the details which really show the difference in quality and affect the way the suit looks and sits on you. First of all it should be well tailored and fit you snuggly while still allowing you movement in your arms and shoulders. The facing material on the lapels should match the braiding on the trousers and if possible also the button fabric. The quality of the fabric also makes a difference – grosgrain silk looks more considered and elegant than satin. The suit fabric also has a substantial effect. Natural fibers crease less and and hang better on your body. Wool is great but if you can afford it splash out and get mohair which has a certain luminescence under light. Ideally you should aim to have no vents in the back, but for some this can be restricting so if you do choose to have vents choose side vents. These won’t blow open and therefore will be much neater.

Image by Thorson Photography via Groom Style – Piero

Choose the right lapel
We touched on lapels earlier but as I said before the beauty is really in the detail and the lapel is where you can do it. A shawl lapel is great if worn well but can really look terrible if you get the proportions wrong. For a safer option choose a peak lapel. It gives you the opportunity to make it look a bit more special than a notch lapel (which is standard in cheap suits) and it will draw the eye down in a V shape. This will make you look naturally athletic accentuating your shoulders and slimming your waist.

Double Breasted and Three Piece
You can wear a double breasted dinner suit but be prepared to have it done up all night because undone they never sit well and can look very messy. A waistcoat can look really classy and add some character. A black tie waistcoat also has an alternative shape. Really the style is up to your own taste and preferences.

The Shirt
A wing collar is for white tie so steer away from it. It should really be a turn down collar. Also the front of the shirt should be pleated or Marcela (that textured diamond shape fabric). With the pleats they should be neat and tight. Avoid pleats that are too big as you can start looking a little too seventies. Also for some nice detail get a double cuff and finish with simple elegant cufflinks.

Image by John Benavente Photography via Monika and John’s Sydney Black Tie Wedding

No Turn ups. They should have plain hemmed bottoms. You can have them pleated but the trend these days is to have a flat front. Trousers that are slightly tapered look great. The pockets should be in line with the braid as it looks neater- there should be no belt and no loops.

Bow tie

Learn to tie your own bow tie. Seriously, clip ons are for children. There are stacks of tutorials on the internet and it is super easy to do. Patterns can go wrong very easily and can throw off your whole look so opt for a block colour. Also a different texture or feel to the fabric can really look great. The bow tie and the pocket square are really the two places you can express some individuality but keep it classic. Nobody wants to be that guy with the “fun bowtie”.



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