The Dreaded Formal Event – Part 1
So, I think it’s pretty safe for me to say that spring is finally here. For my last couple of articles I’ve been holding off announcing it just in case I jinxed things. In fact, a couple of weeks ago it felt like the rain was punishing me for simply thinking there might be brighter days ahead. But now I have a new nervous fear with the coming of the sun – the dreaded formal event.
But why would a formal event make me nervous now that summer is nearing? Well, for that exact reason actually. A formal event will more than likely require a suit or at the least a close tailored approach and this will cause all kinds of sweaty problems not only for me but I would imagine, for a lot of us out there. Luckily, there are easy solutions to my worries.
The first of these is to know your material. Invest in fabrics that will allow you to move around without sweating like cotton, seersucker and linen. It sounds simple enough but you would be surprised at the amount of people who come under prepared to a formal event in their wool blend navy suit and by end the night are red faced and drenched through. These lighter weight fabrics will mean that you wear a suit and have a good time. See my previous article I did on summer suits to find out what each fabric is and what they can do for you.
Next is to know your event. This could not be stressed enough and is what the next couple of articles will hopefully address. At the centre of knowing what type of event you’re going to is knowing how much you can get away with. For example, if the event demands black tie then arriving in a pair of jeans and a well tailored blazer is out of the question. However, if it’s simply a work event in a barn or set of gazebo’s somewhere, then the options available are far more diverse.
Finally, when it comes to attending a formal event, know what kind of person you are. The whole idea of being stylish is to be comfortable and confident in what you are wearing. If you are normally a casually dressed person then chances are the idea of wearing a full on tux – or even just a suit and tie – won’t appeal to you. Luckily, there are general answers to these problems – again this is what these articles will hopefully help you with. But first things first, let’s get the most awkward and often overlooked event out of the way.
Summer Ball/Prom/University or College Formal Event
These events nearly always have a formal requirement attached to them and often have the added pressure of trying to figure out what to wear because, more often than not, this is your first time suiting up yourself. But never fear, the options are easy and simply depend on what kind of person you are.
Casual Dress Sense
If you’re the kind of person who normally walks around in worker wear like boots, t-shirts and jeans, then I’m sure the idea of wearing a tie is a nightmare to you. But luckily, who really said you had to wear a tie anyway? Stand by the motto ‘less is more’ and grab yourself an elegant, well fitting suit in either black, navy or grey and pair it with a simple white shirt along with a pair of black wing tip shoes.
As long as all the items are well tailored and fit your body you don’t need other fancy pieces to look good. Why not even lose the belt to create a more modern look? Or swap the shirt for a classic white polo shirt if you really want to be comfortable. If you do want to add a bit of flare then just add a white cotton/silk pocket square.
Formal Dress Sense
Perhaps you’re the other end of the spectrum and tend to dress up for life on a regular basis? Well, if that’s so, you can either go two ways. Firstly, is to wear a tuxedo. For more information on them check out my previous articles (part one and part two) but I would suggest sticking to a black or navy tuxedo, skip the cummerbund and always ALWAYS wear a bow tie with it.
On the other hand, a true gentleman always dresses in accordance to the weather. So now could be the chance to show your knowledge of fabric and colour. Amongst a sea of black suits why not opt for a suit in a lighter shade and fabric? Perhaps a linen suit in camel paired with a white shirt/black tie combination? Or why not try a seersucker suit (it’s like corduroy but without the fuzz and obvious ridges) in a cement grey or light blue? Again, pair them with a white shirt and a dark tie to maintain the formal tone of the look and you can’t go wrong.
Creative/Stylish Dress Sense
Finally, what if you want to stand out from the crowd? Well, there are two easy ways to do this. Firstly, go all out Italian style and mix up your jacket and trousers (know as ‘separates’). Pair your navy blazer with grey suit trousers or vice versa. A black suit jacket looks great with a khaki trouser, as well as the other way around.
This along with a complimenting shirt and dark tie will really show you know how to express yourself.
Or why not try and get on trend by swapping those trousers for shorts? I’m pretty sure there’s no rule against that, especially if it’s being held outside or you’re all being crammed into a hall. Many retailers are now providing tailored shorts in all kinds of colours so you can either buy a pair the same as your jacket or go all out summer time fun and buy a colourful pair. Why not try a white shirt, navy blazer and pink shorts combination? Finish the look of with a bow tie and boat shoes both in navy and let the shorts do the talking.
Finally, and this really is for the brave, why not try the white suit? It’s true that all white can be risky and the mixture of alcohol and grass stains riskier still, but if done correctly you will be the one guy no one forgets. First of all skip the tie, it will make you and the suit look instantly more relaxed. Then, pair it with a pale blue shirt and use a patterned pocket square to add some texture to the look.
Finally, skip the socks and keep the shoes as simple as possible – black or chocolate brown lace ups or boat shoes.
Next week’s article will be on how to handle those all important summer weddings.