The Splurge: The Ultimate Black Tie Getup (and its more affordable counterpart)
There’s been a huge uptick in emails asking for all kinds of Black Tie related advice & suggestions. Tis the season for swanky charity galas, top-notch office parties, and dressed up New Years Eve gatherings. First suggestion: Don’t rent. You won’t look great and you’ll feel worse. Second suggestion: Pay close attention to the fit of your tux, and the details you surround it with. Do that and you’ll look better than just about every other guy at the party.
What follows are two suggested Black Tie outfits. The Ultimate, and the more affordable. Both will allow you to stand out quietly, which is precisely what Black Tie is all about for men. Now, “Ultimate” in this case is relative. Of course you could spend 10x as much on a Burberry Tux and a Rolex, but in this case “Utliatme” it’s what many of us would consider a high end option but still potentially attainable.
Indochino: Again, you could go more expensive. Way more expensive. But the Indochino Dinner Jacket tux is custom built to your measurements (then most likely further tweaked by your tailor courtesy of the Indochino $75 re-tailoring credit), it’s made of 97% wool and 3% silk, and it’ll provide the perfect canvas for the rest of what you wear. Plus, if you use their “advanced” options, (small link, next to “save” while customizing) you can get higher armholes. Also, opt out of belt loops.
Tommy Hilfiger: The armholes on the Hilfiger Trim fit are decently high, but that entire line tends to run a little long in the jacket. You’ll also need to get it darted in at the sides, even though it does come pre-contoured.
Hugo Boss: Tux shirts are just plain expensive. Ignore the traditional wing collar tux shirts (as seen on the Indochino model, those are the shirts that just have points for a collar) and go with something that’ll actually cover the back of your bowtie. The covered placket on the Hugo Boss is the more accepted way to go without studs, and the tonal stripes on the front are a subtle take on the classic ribbed and bibbed Tux shirt
Calvin Klein: The grand champ of the Slim and Fitted Dress Shirt Palooza, you’re taking a risk by not going with studs or a covered placket, but hey… the J. Crew guys are doing it. Quality fabric with a nice french cuff.
The Bow Tie: Thomas Pink – $60.00 | J. Crew – $45.00
Thomas Pink: A bowtie is all about balance. You don’t want one that’s so skinny thin that you’ll look like you’re wearing an airplane propeller. Nor do you want one so floppy that you start to resemble Charles Nelson Reilly. The Thomas pink looks to lean a little larger, plus it’s ribbed and will deliver a nice bit of texture.
J. Crew: A bit cheaper, a bit smaller, and much smoother. All satin.
The Shoes: Kenneth Cole Mister Man – $153 (reg. $255) | Calvin Klein Gareth – $139.95
Kenneth Cole: Some guys swear by patent tux shoes. Those just look rented. Stick with a plain black lace up and get em’ shined before. Kenneth Cole’s Mister Man shoe is the right blend of traditional minimalism and a modern elongated toe. They’ve got a leather sole and… brace yourselves… they’re made in Italy. A nice bargain at $150
Calvin Klein: At $140 retail price they’re a little expensive for what you get, but watch for a sale.
The Watch: ESQ Chronograph – $395 | Hugo Boss Silver Dial – $175.00
ESQ by Movado: You’ve got enough black/white contrast going on, so a white dial watch on your wrist probably isn’t a great idea. If you go with a larger watch, make sure it’s dressed up with a black dial which will blend in a little more. The ESQ is one… handsome as hell watch. Just as impressive in person. Sharply modern hands with beefy classic Roman Numerals.
Hugo Boss: A great name at a sub $200 price. Subtle and simple, with a silver (not white) dial. Watch for sales on both of these since they’re sold by Macy’s.
The Cufflinks: Tiffany 1837 Cufflinks – $225 | Forzieri Cylanders – $83.00
Tiffany: Keep your links slim, subtle, and sleek. Buy these from Tiffany and they’ll be the one set of shined up cuff links you’ll ever need. Plus, you can hand em’ down to your kids (if you have kids).
Forzieri: A little more of a textured modern twist, but still slim. Made in Italy.
J. Crew: The Chesterfield, with its black velvet contrast collar, screams black tie affair. But, this one sold out during the massive J. Crew outerwear sale. It should come back though.
Banana Republic: The Banana Republic version is cheaper, and although I haven’t seen it in store, it’s probably pretty similar to their standard topcoat. If that’s the case, the unexpectedly light weight of the fabric won’t keep you warm if you’re standing on a corner in a blizzard, but if you’re going from car to party, and then from party, to… cab… it’ll work just fine. Wait for a sale. If the sale is as big as 40% off you can get it for $165.
Money clip & Card Case: K.C. Textured Money Clip – $35.00 | R.L. Slim Case – $39.99
Kenneth Cole: If it’s a black tie affair you shouldn’t be hauling around a wallet. Get a good amount of cash out of the ATM and stash it in your money clip. This textured version from Kenneth Cole is what I carry.
Ralph Lauren: Your license, a credit card, and maybe a couple business cards go in your card case. Seems like the old-style silver covered card cases are tough to find. Leather will do, plus it’s cheaper.
Additions, subtractions, comments and concerns… throw em’ all in the comments section below.