The formal smash up: so long to the black tie!

2 min read
02 Jan 2018
2 min read
762 words
Our fashion expert talks about spicing up your formal wear by breaking the rules

We firmly suspect “black tie required” was created not as a guideline for suave, stylish men, but rather as a baseline to be followed by the sartorially unsure. You could regard the request as a way for party-throwers to declare, ‘Don’t you please ruin our event with your sloppiness.” But understand that if you know the rules, you’re free to break them. How so? Well, just read the invite carefully and feel free to go your own way in the latest and greatest of the countless new tuxedos in a mélange of blues, greens, reds, velvet, prints or checks. In fact, any colour, texture or motif but the one that everyone else will be wearing; furthermore, think apposite alternatives to the traditional neckwear and even a tux jacket with a turtleneck if you’re inclined to do so. And if you still ain’t got the message in your head, gentlemen, here we are officially inviting you to turn your New Year’s Eve black-tie event into a possibly no-tie-and-sneakers occasion.

How to wear a not so black tux now

  • Your tux doesn’t have to be black, but it has to be dark. When you’re rubbing shoulders with the rest of the folks in their formal attire, you should at least be within the same dark-hued ballpark.

  • You don’t have to wear all the traditional appurtenances. And by that, we mean the ruffled shirt, jewellery, patent shoes, and so on. Your differently hued tux has already established that you’re going your own way. Continue moving down that path, but just make sure your shirt is crispier than a Krispy and keep your shoes as flat toes.

  • Your tux should be immaculately tailored. The pants should be cuffless and tapered. Your jacket ought to have high armholes and a nipped waist. After all, people should be able to tell that you’re not just wearing a tux but your very own tux.

  • Take advantage of the “optional” in the “black-tie optional”. Do this by playing a game of high and low. Go for a shirt that’s very black tie, say pleats, but not a black tie.
  • Sport a pocket square if your tux has a breast pocket. There’s added bonus points if the hankie is seasonal: am implying that you ought to try wool for winter.

  • Satin, too, gets optional for most designers, and fashion labels, today, have now gradually started ditching the traditional stripes on their tux pants. However, the choice is ultimately yours.  

  • Your shoes don’t necessarily have to shine. Suede or canvas has the opposite effect of the patent leather most guys wear. So while they zig, you can totally zag.

  • When it comes to accessories, bracelets and watches are fair game. The only point, here, is not to overdo it. Remember less is key.

  • Finally, the new way to wear your tux this brand new year is to pair the formal and informal however you like. The idea behind it is to take an attitude that’s at once sophisticated and nonchalant.