Classic Black Tie Outfits with accents in red; an evening waistcoat, a pocket square, and a carnation, as drawn by the inimitable Laurence Fellows
Black Tie History and Mastery Go Hand-in-Hand
It is impossible for evening wear to be fully appreciated or properly executed without being familiar with its history. Until a man understands evening wear’s original intention and aesthetic logic, he is likely doomed to a formal wardrobe that fails to meet its most fundamental objectives. Simply having worn a suit does not intrinsically qualify a man to assemble a proper formal ensemble in the same way that writing a high-school essay does not qualify one to author a novel.
Sean Connery as James Bond wearing a White Dinner Jacket with Black Batwing Bow Tie
Get to Know the Dinner Jacket
A familiarity with the dinner jacket’s background is particularly important for men who wish to improvise on black tie’s century-old traditions because only an educated dresser can discern between fleeting fads and timeless style. The following pages provide just such an education, conveniently condensed to the most relevant details and generously embellished with period illustrations.
Black Tie in 1934; note the colorful waistcoats and the stiff collar with a white tie vest and boutonniere on the right
Black Tie History Is More Colorful Than You Might Think
You may be surprised to find that unlike its somber apparel, evening wear’s history is a colorful one encompassing depression and prosperity, aristocrats and hippies and ballrooms and discotheques. So slip on your vintage smoking jacket and sit back in your favorite armchair as we begin our story with a tale of rakish dandies and maverick princes . . .