Your most pressing style questions answered
How come actors wear long black ties with their dinner jackets? Will we all be doing it in a few years?
You sometimes wonder if they don't know how to tie a bow. However, it does work if you want to give a modern twist to the evening. In a good tuxedo, however, every man can pretend he's James Bond, and the bow tie is a necessary part of the dinner-jacket ensemble - without it there's not enough to separate it from any other black suit. Crucially, a bow tie can be undone and worn loose around an open collar in a dégagé fashion that a necktie can't touch.
Do you have to wear a winged collar with a dinner jacket?
Attention, class - it is time for a very brief lesson. A century ago gentlemen used to eat their evening meals in a dinner jacket every day. The point of this piece of sartorial history is to show that the dinner jacket was designed to be comfortable; it's a suit made for dining and dancing in, so it is only a success if you're at ease in it. Few of us will find it easy to relax in a wing collar. Go for an immaculate white marcella shirt, with a piqué front and a soft collar, and relax.
What is a cummerbund for, and do people still wear them?
The reason the cummerbund has been largely abandoned is because it is now pointless. Originally worn under a dinner jacket as a lighter alternative to a waistcoat (this was in the days when an exposed waistband was considered bad form) it has been rendered redundant now that we're unperturbed by the sight of a waistband. However, if you do want to hark back, go the whole hog and get a horseshoe-shaped double-breasted waistcoat, which is far more stylish.
What is the right way to wear a dinner jacket (tuxedo)?
If you are asked to wear a tuxedo, make the most of it. They look best with peak lapels, whether they're single-breasted or double-breasted. And, though double-breasted is invariably warmer than single, it is often more elegant. Unfortunately for mavericks the dinner jacket allows very little leeway, mainly because it is an unbeatable formula, so stick to the script with a black bow tie in the same kind of silk that you have on your lapels (grosgrain is best), a white shirt with either a fly front or with holes for shirt studs, a white pocket square in silk or linen, black socks and highly polished black oxford shoes. That leaves room for displays of individuality only with your choice of cufflinks, watch and shirt studs.