Monday, February 22, 2010

Black Tie- Part 3

Black tie is common.....but "Navy tie?" you're on to something.

If you see a man wearing a midnight navy tuxedo, you can rest assure he is "in the know" about how to make a subtle statement without screaming for attention. The good thing about navy is that it looks darker under artificial lighting, which is most common these days for evening affairs. Black cloths have a tendancy to look a little brownish or even greenish under the same lighting, causing your most formal pieces to look dated and dusty. Navy, however, takes on a depth most desired.

In a crowd full of similarly dressed men trying to look their best, one up them with a navy tuxedo; it will fit you in with the masses while allowing to make a statement that is all your own.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black Tie - Part 2

The question was posed: "is a vest, cummerbund or suspenders necessary?"

The truth is, "necessary" is such an awkward word and is generally irrelevant when it comes to dressing. I think "suggested" would be more appropriate, especially for this post.

When wearing black tie attire, a vest, cummerbund or suspenders are things that finish the outfit off, and are items that show attention to detail. While they are not necessary, they certainly do make it all look a bit nicer.

Let's start with the cummerbund - Originally worn for formal Indian dress, it has since made it's way into our evening clothing with style as well as function. Wear the pleats facing up, and recognize that the intention of a cummerbund is to "finish the waist" and cover your white shirt from popping through, underneath your buttons when the jacket is closed. The cummerbund is able to hide that small piece of fabric should you not be wearing your trousers high enough. Never wear a vest with a cummerbund.

A vest is something that has been popular with formal dress for quite some time, though in my opinion, the cummerbund is making it's way back into popularity because of its throwback roots. If you wear a vest, wear suspenders.

Suspenders, or braces can also be (and should be) a finishing touch put on formalwear. With the dancing and moving that generally occur in times of celebration, having something like braces to hold your trousers up will come in handy an be a welcome comfort because you wont have a belt to do the same.....right?
Whichever road you take, just be sure to include atleast one of the above....Personally, my preference is a cummerbund with a bowtie.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tuxedo Knowledge - Part 1

A reader had asked a question about some black tie related specifics that I want to address in 3 parts. Part 1 is related to the anchor of the outfit. A detail that, if overlooked, can ruin what started as a good thing.

What's important in dressing for black tie is the consistency of the outfit. Making sure that each part works with the next and makes sense to those looking at you...because they will. What holds an outfit down, figuratively and literally, is the footwear.
A very common question is "Do I have to wear patent leather?

Really what you're saying is "I don't want to spend anymore money, can't I get away with something that I already have? Most of the time it has nothing to do with having to wear patent or not. It's just you being cheap.
The truth is, you should have footwear that is used specifically for black tie affairs. End of story. There are all kinds of formal shoes now so they don't have to be 100% patent leather if you think that looks to "shiny" (nonsense). Often times they are made of silk and patent leather. You could even wear velvet slippers (below) for those willing to be more on the forward side.
Those of you who have worn regular black leather shoes , the kind you wear to work (unless they are 1 piece leathers with zero stitching (see above pic) should be embarrassed. You might as well throw your pleated tuxedo shirt on the next time you need to wear a white shirt to work...... The point is - sack up and buy a pair of shoes to be worn only for formal events. You will appreciate having them, guaranteed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pleats, Flat Fronts, Cuffs and Plain Bottoms

The old rules said that if you wore a pleated pant, you should have cuffs on the bottom....Conversley, if you wore a plain front or flat front trouser you should have the bottoms finished plain, without a cuff. Those rules still apply to the general masses, and I think should be followed if wearing pleats.

However, now that flat fronts are as popular as ever, you should feel free to wear them however you desire. For a range of mixture, have cuffs put on the bottom and wear them proudly. Some may question your choice, but it's only because they don't have the confidence that you do. Defend your position and my bet is that they too, will soon have a cuff on a pair of their plain fronts.

***General Cuff size guidelines***

5 foot 5 and below: 1.25" cuff
5 foot 6 to 6 foot 1: 1.5" cuff
6 foot 2 and taller: 2" cuff (demands a small or minimal break to avoid bunching at ankle)
Fashion forward (and old school/traditional), regardless of height: 2" cuff

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sweater + Button Down = BORING

You wear it because you simply don't know what else to do. At the very least it looks put together, clean, sophisticated and planned. But it also looks like every other person around you.

If you, like many, are guilty of the "button down underneath a basic v neck or crew neck sweater" pretty much anytime you go somewhere - this blog's for you. It's OK to put that look together once in a while, but if you do it with regularity and if you think others would expect seeing you dressed like that, it's time to make a change and a little more of an effort.

If you want to continue with the layered look, that's great. Go for it. But do it in a way that shows a little more flair and depth. Wear a cardigan, instead of a v-neck. Add a tie. Perhaps a pattern to the sweater. Cableknit, Argyles, Elbow Patches, zip collars, button collars....anything that adds detail to the top layer will be a refreshing change of pace for those expecting to see you in a blue stripe button down and brown cashmere sweater.

If you have a significant other, you should know she's tired of seeing you in the same old look. Don't wait for her to make the change for you. Do her a favor and mix it up on your own. You'll reap the benefits of being her best accessory......a well dressed man.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mean Business

I never thought that something as simple as a piece of paper could make such a difference in perception. Sometimes you receive a piece of stationary, maybe a business card, etc.... you read it, get the information that's vital, and then move on.

Other times, you get the card, look at it....feel it, and think - Wow....this is nice stuff. It instantly elevates the sender or giver in your mind. It makes you think for a moment about the details and why that person cares so much.

Like anything image related, it can sometimes pay to buy up. Think about the last time you splurged on something - I bet you love it every time you use it, and haven't thought about the cost since day 1. Consider making the investment with your paper will likely pay you back multiple times over.