So the world has almost completed another orbit, but before we can welcome 2017 it’s prerequisite to eat, drink and dress our way through party season. We’re sure there are worse tribal rituals out there, especially when it comes to the first two requirements. However, while black tie is unequivocally the gold standard in formal dressing, for men who pride themselves on personal style, wearing a dinner suit can feel like putting a saddle on a hog.
Luckily, although black tie is a uniform, the strict rules have relaxed enough to let you inject some personality into your partywear. Never ones to be a wallflower, the editors of FashionBeans show here the final flourishes that add an extra element of style without risking being turned away at the door.
The strict rules of the penguin suit can be stifling, and I take the approach that traditions are to be toyed with. But when it comes to black tie, standing out needn’t mean pushing the dress code into uncharted territory. Subtle alterations to classic pieces can make for a look that’s more comfortable, personal and eye-catching.
Take the Sovereign slipper from esteemed British shoemaker Church’s as a dapper example. Flawlessly crafted in Northampton from plush black suede, the shoe is embroidered with a gold-tone Crown for a hint of regalia. Slip on with a dinner suit and you’ll be a king among men.
Church’s Sovereign Slipper, available at Herring, priced £220.
No one likes a date that tries too hard, but no one likes a date that doesn’t try hard enough either. Black tie is much of the same: when it comes to accessories, there’s a fine line between looking like you’ve come off a production line and outright offending your host.
While I’m in no position to offer advice in the realms of romance, I can recommend you take the sartorial middle ground with a silk scarf. Black and white options are classic but why not make a statement with a patterned version? You never know, it just might earn you a second date.
Reiss Bellini Multi Silk Evening Scarf, available at Reiss, priced £50.
It might seem batshit to suggest you blow half a month’s rent on something few (if any) half-cut people will actually see you wearing at a black-tie event, but, to my mind, a unique pair of cufflinks is worth the outlay.
Why? Because it’s between the cuffs of your shirt and your dinner jacket that you can give the two-fingers to convention. Inject a little life. Give your look some spark. Sure, you could try standing out in a white tux, but why don’t you smash a few champagne flutes while you’re at it if you’re that desperate for attention?
Deakin & Francis Sterling Silver Cufflinks, available at Harvey Nichols, priced £285.
When I turned 21, one of the the best gifts I received wasn’t a watch, or a car, but a silk Lanvin pocket square from my dad (a surprising choice from a man who thought Balenciaga was a type of chest infection). Since then, it’s served every formal event adulthood entails: weddings, job interviews, dinner parties, work events, all with varying degrees of intoxication. What’s more, it hasn’t aged a stitch.
White may seem dull, but colours and prints don’t come close to clinching the same cost-per-wear ratio. If a Hermès-esque print is an exclamation point, consider the white pocket square a full stop: quieter, politer but still just as up to the job.
Lanvin Silk-Twill Pocket Square, available at Mr Porter, priced £45.