Tag Archives: Allen-Edmonds

Black Tie Optional–Now What?

(While The Princess is continuing to help her power-challenged Princess Mother the role of author will be played by the Princess Consort. Thank you for your kindness.)

On this Father’s Day please take a moment to remember the man who loved you more than any other man ever could. A strange feeling goes through a new father when he holds his child for the first time. He sees time unspool before him. He wants to stop the clock and hold the moment forever. But he knows he can’t and his child will grow up to a life of school, new friends and weddings. Which brings us to today’s topic… black tie.

It has always been my contention that black tie optional is an opportunity to look devastating. It all starts with your own tuxedo. Come on, admit it. You should have given up renting a tux when you were seventeen. Owning a tuxedo is a wardrobe necessity and it’s affordable. Plus, classic style never goes out of fashion.

Let’s get started with a bespoke tuxedo.

Photo: Jeff Westbrook/Studio D

Giorgio Armani calls his line of bespoke tuxedos “Handmade-to-measure” and they are exquisite. Some things to consider when selecting a bespoke tuxedo: Go with the peak lapels and you won’t be mistaken for the waiter; the mohair is tempting but stick with the wool; a double vent will be more comfortable as the night wears on; so will pleated pants although the plain front always looks trim; single breasted is timeless while double-breasted can appear trendy. How much for all this style? You’ll ante up $4,325 to get into this game. Check with your friends at Needless-Markup if the Armani is your choice. Sounds nice, right? Let’s get this look at a more modest price.

Our friends at Jos. A. Bank Clothiers have a number of very affordable tuxedos that won’t devastate your budget (admit it, with gasoline at $4+ it all adds up). The peak lapel jacket is 100% wool with grosgrain lapels. The matching pants have the grosgrain stripe. Normally it’s a steal at $795. Now that it’s on sale for a mere $449 there is no excuse for you to not add this to your closet. Remember, it’s always a good idea to have several tuxedos. You own more than one suit, right?

I get my shirts at Charles Trywhitt in London and you should too. Brilliant workmanship and great prices. The Marcella bib front classic collar tuxedo shirt is 100% cotton. Double cuffs are standard and studs are mandatory. Depending upon exchange rates you can expect to spend about $130, although it’s now on sale for just $95.

Let’s stay with Trywhitt for our bow tie and cummerbund. Both are black silk and traditional. If you need a reminder of how to tie a bow tie I’ll give you a refresher here. No clip-on ties, please. You don’t want to be the man at the end of the party who, when the other gentlemen loosen their ties, must unclip his. Also, a reminder about the cummerbund: The pleats are worn up. Tradition is that the cummerbunds are worn pleats-up to better catch crumbs during dinner. Expect to pay $60 for tie and $70 for the cummerbund.

Of course, you could do all this at Brooks Brothers. But you knew that already.

Jewelry is up to you. Stud and cufflink sets are everywhere for every price. I prefer vintage but that’s just me. The traditional guidelines for tastefully wearing jewelry apply.

Footware is a source of personal taste. Velvet uppers are elegant but maybe not for you. I prefer the finished look of Allen-Edmonds.

Photo: Allen-Edmonds

The Park Avenue balmoral is a timeless look with traditional cap toe styling and fit. You cannot go wrong with this shoe, trust me. It’s also extremely affordable at a mere $325.

The best part of owning a tuxedo is the options you have. If you are obligated to go to that dreaded party to which we are all invited occasionally, just show up in a tuxedo. The people there will assume you have somewhere more important to be and you can escape gracefully.

Thank you all for sharing your weekend with me. It’s been fun and I’ll return the next time The Princess needs a getaway.

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