8 Rules To Do Black Tie Properly

Evening wear wisdom from people who know.

BY CHARLIE TEASDALE | Feb 15, 2016 | Fashion

Thom Widdett and Luke Sweeney, founders of tailoring house Thom Sweeney, are known all over town (and most likely beyond) for always being impeccably turned out.

So we thought we'd ask them for their eveningwear wisdom. Here are their rules:

A ‘black tie’ dress code means it’s an important event, so you need to get it right. Whether it be a wedding or awards ceremony, it’s that one time every guy needs to make an effort whether they like it or not, so you might as well embrace it!

For me, the worst mistake is wearing an actual black tie (rather than a bow tie) with a tux. A black cashmere bow tie is my go-to finishing touch every time.

Cashmere bow tie, SGD 244

When it comes to footwear, I’m not against velvet slippers, but personally, I always wear patent leather lace up shoes. What I would say is you should never wear just a plain black shoe. A polished oxford might look great when worn to the office, but the slightly more matte finish will come off a little drab against eveningwear.

There are trends in eveningwear – silhouettes and lapels may change slightly – but we are great advocates of keeping black tie timeless and classic. As I said before, it normally means an important event, and you don’t want to look back at pictures and have regrets.

Wool Dinner Jacket, SGD 3,038

Your eveningwear should always look fresh because you wear it so rarely, but to guarantee it, keep it on a hanger in your wardrobe and make sure it isn’t squashed. And maybe let it air-out outside the morning after, especially if it was a late night.

I’m not a big fan of using eveningwear pieces in day-to-day looks: - it’s too special – but you can bring in accessories like cufflinks or a dress scarf, which can be worn with other formal looks. Your black tie outfit should be reserved for those really glamorous occasions; you want to feel (and look) like a million dollars when you put it on.

White cotton dress shirt, £235

It’s tough, but if a man could only have one dinner suit in his whole life it should be an off-white, single-breasted, one-button jacket with silk lapels, and midnight blue trousers.

The one definitive rule for looking good in evening wear, aside from having a great dinner suit, is to get the accessories right. Wear it with a hand-tied bow tie and a crisp white dress shirt.

First published in Esquire UK. The Luxury Series collections by Bogliogli, Brioni and Thom Sweeney are available now at Mr Porter.