Rules belong to border man. It’s a good thing they do for that matter, some of the people I’ve encountered I would cite in any length of sartorial poetry as borderline-man anyway. We must break the rules to break the records. But if any of those breakages result in a recording of your distasteful attire, it’s best to err the safe side of the sensibility.

In understanding, these borders exist to maintain you in your post-neanderthal self. They also stand to steer you away from your overzealous tendencies. They are never to enter you into a point of no return or similarly, the point at which people wish you would appropriate no-return. Never should these rules exert you into garbing beyond or below your duty of dress but merely teeter amongst them.

Faux pas account for 98% of the total accumulated wars (despite ironically being a faux pas in itself). Equally they tot-up 73% of wedding no-shows, 47% of arguments and grudges and 13% of one night stands* please reference first brackets.

The Guide, Week 1:

Theory and fable tells us that the periodic table of elements was originally designated to differentiate between the codes of dress expected at any given event. These, although offering accolade in the slightest of situations, can deliver more issues if got wrong than any combination of combustible elements plucked from the science book.

My guide to dress, spread over the next few weeks, will arm you with a code of conduct more elaborate than anything pedaled by MI5 or the like. We’ll cover everything from black tie (check), white tie, morning dress, Hollywood black tie, lounge suit, wedding attire (not applicable to men of the cloth) and all the rest.

I’ll try to teach you the key points, I’ll try to teach you to avoid the uh oh’s, the moans, the groans and the divorces. I’ll try to teach you to keep your hands to your own accompaniment but some of you are hard students!

Black Tie

You will be grateful for dragging myself away from of any [civilized) rant at how the Women have it easier (we’ll keep our role in childbirth, ta) at these events. It is far too easy to fall into the trap of: I look like a penguin, you look like a penguin, everybody look like a penguin. Stressing how easy it is to fall into doesn’t quite equate to stressing how hard it is to get out of. You’re a penguin; embrace your penguinuity.

The misconceived relief at an invitation stating black tie optional is the last of the great reliefs I’d like to shoot down. For better wording it should state: black tie for any still gripping on to social echelons. The optional factor is a nudge in the right direction, and we all need one of those from time to time.

Here is a further nudge (or ten) in the right direction for black tie:

  1. Black Tie will usually be called upon at the up most of formalities. Corporate do’s (avoid any pass at the boss’s wife) or a chance encounter with the Duke of Edinburgh (need I repeat first bracket?). Nine times out of eight they define monotony and characterise fake smiles.
  2. Don’t entrust colour nor cut as your chance to waddle out of the penguin society in which you are invited. Favour (by favour I mean disregard all else) the black & single breasted suit. Midnight blue became a popular choice, as did burgundy – unless you’re braving it in velvet stick with what your Noir.
  3. It’s a bow tie not a tie-tie type of attire. You run the risk of breaching into lounge suit or Hollywood black tie and betraying your fellow penguin, I mean man! As the weeks progress you will be a penguin (I mean pro!) at telling when barriers (non negotiable barriers) are crossed.
  4. If you arrive at your hotel sporting creases, hang said garment in the bathroom and run the shower. The steam will alleviate your woes. The same will not work for your aging date; bring an escort.
  5. I push for the cummerbund. It took me to the age of 18 to be able to roll the word off the tongue first time in any given sartorial discussion; I’m going to use it! If at all a waistcoat is brought into play, a low rise pick will give you the sharp silhouette you need to feel empowered. GQ contributor Simon Crompton brings down one scruffy man at a time with his take on black tie: Click Here for full article
  6. A brogue after-dark is a sinful sort. Plain patents or highly polished pointers please gentlemen. The reason an avoidance of square-toes is called for is [rant rant rant rant]… put them in the bin. Capiche?
  7. Black tie and white tie are different. Don’t think of it as pretentious rewrite, white tie calls for tails too.
  8. Your bag or pockets (minimal utilisation of the latter please) should already carry your paraphernalia of living. Prioritise mints, especially for the smoker, piper, occasional cigar or otherwise.
  9. No tomfoolery with your jewellery. It goes without saying, but not without gentle reminding, to keep all your jewellery the same metal. You may have become lazily accustomed to pairing your silver earrings with your gold nineties wedding band but never will it show up more than against a black canvas. If you’re irked into wearing the band despite it being amongst your distaste, think of it as your wife, they are to be upgraded. Did I say wife? I meant…car.
  10. Don’t sit down, it will crease the pants. If you have to sit down, don’t. If you really have to sit down; you get the idea.

A man’s attire is his costume; it is how the Halloween attire acts. For the night, this is your perception and ‘percepted’ respectively, let your accord follow suit.

All right?
Got it?


L x
Next week: (Wedding attire)