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MEN'S STYLE

The Complete Guide To Men's Dress Codes

Avoid the awkwardness with our breakdown to what's appropriate, when (Continued)

Black Tie
Or ‘dinner jackets’, ‘dinner dress’, ‘tuxedo’, ‘cravate noire’. Again, it doesn’t mean ‘a black tie’: it means a dinner suit, or a tuxedo if you’re North American. This is materially different from a black suit, with contrast lapels in a fabric like grosgrain or silk and braiding down the leg. If you’re the kind of person who insists on saying dinner suit rather than tux, then yours should be midnight blue, which is historically more fitting of the code and looks like a richer black under artificial light.

You’ll also want a dress shirt with a turn-down collar and fancy front of some kind, usually with detachable studs and cufflinks instead of buttons. At a push, you could probably get away with a normal white shirt; a wing collar shirt is strictly speaking for white tie.

Shoes-wise, reach for highly polished Oxfords, although patent is more than acceptable. The dinner suit started out as a more relaxed alternative to tails, but for most of us today, it’s as smart as it gets. Slippers are – unsurprisingly – really for ‘at home’ invitations.

Can you wear a black suit? Well, it’s not the same thing at all.
A (black) cummerbund is not essential, but it can do a good job of stopping your shirt showing between your jacket button and trouser waistband, as can a black waistcoat.

‘Semi-formal attire’ is upper-class code for black tie so, again, depending on the circles you’re moving in, this could actually just mean smart-casual. Another reason to pick up the phone before you gussy up.

...more to come

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