Cracking The Dress Code - Formal
November 9th, 2002
INVITATION TERMINOLOGY When the invitation reads Black Tie, Black Tie Preferred, Le Smoking, or Smoking for an evening semi-formal event or White Tie or Full Dress for an evening formal event, then your host is providing an elegant affair and expects you to dress according to fit the decor and ambiance of the evening. When your invitation reads Black Tie Optional, or Black Tie Invited, the host is leaving the final decision up to you. Most men will be wearing tuxedos, however if you dont have one you shouldnt feel uncomfortable in a dark suit. The big confusion with Casual on an invitation, comes from the fact that there are varying degrees of casual and just one word doesnt cover it! Often the inviter has something in mind that isnt properly communicated. Informal may mean casual to the inviter, but it is not!
PROPER FORMAL WEAR BY OCCASION: What gentlemen wear depends upon the time of day and the occasion. A recent innovation of some wedding consultants to have the bridegroom wear one style of formal wear while the groomsmen and/or ushers wear another is a social blunder. (This is in reference to long jackets called Strollers or Walking coats). You can vary the look through different neckwear or boutonnieres.
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DAY FORMAL: (Very formal diplomatic receptions) Black or Gray tailcoat, with matching trousers, gray double breasted vest, long gray tie, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray homburg hat, pearl cufflinks and studs.
DAY SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings) Gray morning coat (cutaway), black or gray striped trousers, gray double breasted vest, gray long tie or pinned ascot, gray gloves, white boutonniere, gray top hat, spats, pearl cufflinks and studs.
EVENING FORMAL: (The Opera, charity ball) White tie and tails (black tailcoat), black trousers with two satin seams on the outside leg, white pique vest, white bow tie, white kid gloves, white boutonniere, black top hat, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.
EVENING SEMI-FORMAL: (weddings, theatre opening nights) Black dinner jacket or white in summer (tuxedo), black trousers with one satin seam on the outside leg, black vest or cummerbund, black bow tie, white silk scarf, black or gold cufflinks and studs.
DAY or EVENING INFORMAL (Dont think casual!) also COCKTAIL, or BUSINESS ATTIRE: This requires a business suit, necktie, lace-up shoes, and for evening occasions a non-button-down collar dress shirt. Make certain that the person sending out the invitations really means informal and not casual since this is a common misconception!
Andy Gilchrist Author of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes