Time to go to Black Tie parties again!
Time to go to Black Tie parties again! Now most pandemic related restrictions have been lifted. Knock on wood, but let's hope that after two years we can now leave it behind us and look ahead. I think that many of us hope for more socializing again, there is a pent-up need to party and have fun. Why not take the opportunity and wear the garment that is intended for this; the Dinner Jacket! Because when it comes to party attire, the Dinner Jacket stands like an uncrowned king at the top of the podium. But first, let’s agree on it’s name. In Sweden we say “Smoking”. It is said to originate from the “smoking jacket” which the gentlemen at a party put on over their tailcoats when they went to get a cigar. In England, it is most commonly called a Dinner Jacket. That name says more about its context since it is made for wearing at dinners. Hence it's a social party outfit. A “lounge suit” in turn is traditionally a work uniform that is usually not worn at parties or dinners.
My good friend the gentleman, viveur and antiques expert Peder Lamm and I have a podcast together where we recently talked about the black-tie dress code. Peder is a proud and has many thoughts and views. We both agree that you can wear this festive evening attire in quite a few different ways. It all came down to me telling myself about my three ways of sporting a dinner jacket. Please enjoy:
- The formal way.
Here I do not make any deviations from the tradition at all. I have had Götrich make me a really classic bespoke suit. The cloth is black, heavy and very British in a Barathea wool from H.Lesser. It has a pronounced and built-up shoulder, one button, and discreetly matte silk on the peak. The waist of the trousers is cut high and generous. The opening width of the trouser leg a little wider than I normally make it and it touches the shoe somewhat. With this I wear a waistcoat with a deep so-called horseshoe shape. The shirt is also made bespoke by Götrich in crispy white with detachable buttons. In addition, a classic bow tie in matt silk and discreet vintage cufflinks in silver adds flare. The linen pocket square is white. The only thing that stands out when it comes to this whole look is that I wear patent leather opera pumps (court shoes) on my feet, quite a daring choice. You have to allow some room for playing around! The socks are black, expensive, in silk and of course extend over the calves.
- The modern way.
Here I dare to be a bit more playful to create a more modern look. However, it's still a black suit. It is also tailored but with a very soft construction. The shoulders have no structure, the lapels are peaked, wide and a little shinier. The trousers are narrower and the waist is not as high. The shirt is still white but it now has sewn-on buttons. Of course, a bow tie is worn around the neck, but now a slightly more daring one in black velvet (in my case from Turnbull & Asser). The cufflinks can now stand out a little more and I personally like to wear animal motifs. With this look, I sometimes replace the white pocket square with a black and white polka dot in silk. On the feet I will wear slippers from Crockett & Jones in black velvet. Here you can alternate with e.g. so-called horse-bit loafers in black calf. I usually wear black socks but sometimes I have gone for bright red, it always annoys someone…
- The “rakish” way.
I realize that this third and final look when it comes to how I wear a dinner jacket balances on a razor-sharp edge and can be perceived by some as "too much", "clownish" or "outdated". Everything is subjective, but the fact is that this, especially in England, is a completely accepted way of wearing dinner attire. Here it's about extra everything. The jacket is made of velvet, preferably burgundy or bottle green. It has a so-called shawl collar and can be double-breasted. When it comes to this type of jacket, it often comes with embroidery and elegant turn-back cuffs. The trousers can have a tartan pattern, in my case I sport a tartan called Gordon. The accessories can be a bit "loud" and eccentric. On the feet, I like to wear velvet slippers in green with
embroidery. Here only the imagination sets the limits, but personally I have fox heads in gold. However, this last look should be limited to private events and home parties, preferably in a rural place where it works best. I probably wear no.1, the formal dinner jacket, most often.
Which one I like the most? Have a guess…
How do you wear your dinner jacket?