What To Wear To A Black Tie Event

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What To Wear To A Black Tie Event

Words by Mr Tom M Ford

28 July 2016

The suit, shoes and accessories that will ensure you look sharp and chic at your next formal event.

It’s summer, which means that it’s the time of year when most black tie events happen (apart from Christmas and New Year, perhaps). It may be that you need something to wear to the wedding of a friend who is breaking with tradition and insisting everyone dons a tuxedo (!) instead of a stiff, long-tailed morning suit. Or perhaps you have a particularly lavish pal who is throwing a party for no particular reason, yet demands everyone adheres to a strict formal dress code. Whatever the occasion, take it from us – renting a suit just won’t do. And you won’t fool anyone. If the ill-fitting shoulders don’t get you found out, then the previous wearer’s dry-cleaning receipt in the top pocket will. Invest in a tuxedo now that’s suitable for summer and also winter, and look forward to every black-tie invitation for ever more.

Although its origins are debated, it is often suggested that the tuxedo was invented when the Prince of Wales controversially ordered a tailless coat to be to be crafted for evening wear in the 1860s. Thankfully, it has modernised quite considerably since then, evolving into the likes of this Saint Laurent suit – which has a contemporary slim fit and robust wool construction. It still retains some old-school glamour, mind, with those classic peak lapels. Finish it off with some proper shoes, such as these patent Oxfords by Kingsman – some of the sleekest money can buy.

A proper bow tie – tied yourself – is obviously the most fitting, smart way to complete a formal look. (And if you want to learn how to tie a bow tie properly, watch our nifty video, here.) But we’re well aware that sometimes life gets in the way of such fiddly activities. And you know that stage of the evening when everyone decides it’s a good idea to untie their bow tie to leave it hanging, thinking they look suave but actually just bringing to mind the end of every sixth-form ball? Well you can avoid that with this pre-tied Albert tie from Lanvin, and enjoy being the smartest gentleman in the room through until the early hours.

Such is the anonymity of a classic black suit, tie and shoes that it’s often just the accessories that allow you to show a little flair and personality at a swanky event. Now, we’re assuming the dress code is strictly “black tie” and not “black tie with a twist” – so you won’t find any wacky tap-shaped wrist fastenings or leopard-print pocket squares here. Instead, we suggest this elegant silk square from Turnbull & Asser for your top pocket, and some mother-of-pearl cufflinks from Mulberry which, we imagine, you’ll end up passing down a generation (if you don’t lose them at one of the more drunken high-society balls).