white tie dos & dont

White Tie DO’s & DON’Ts – Tailcoat & Full Fig Guide

All you need to know about the most formal dress code: white tie. At the MET Gala Ball, people were wearing all sorts of things even though the dress code was clear: white tie. Therefore, we decided to create a helpful guide that ensures you look your best when you wear the most formal of all menswear outfits.

White tie tailcoat ensemble

White tie tailcoat ensemble

What Not To Wear to a White Tie Event

1. Do Not Wear Slippers

Valentino wears slippers with bows, which is wrong. On the other hand, Pumps with a round cut out would be appropriate so that you can see a bit of the sheer silk socks.

Opera pumps also known as court shoes

Opera pumps also known as court shoes

2. Do Not Wear Boutonnieres that are Obviously Fake

For a white tie event, a white or red carnation are very traditional, a rose can work as well but try to get a fresh flower, if that’s not feasible, take a look at the authentic looking boutonnieres by Fort Belvedere, but never get these obvious fakes made of leather or patterned fabric.

3. Do Not Wear a Neck Tie – Wear a White Marcella Cotton Bow Tie

No matter what color, do never wear a regular necktie to a White tie event – Edward Norton, does not know that – you can do better. White tie means you should wear a white Marcella cotton bow tie in your neck size because you do not want to have an adjuster show on your collar. For a selection of quality white tie bow ties, take a look here.

4. Do Not Wear a Regular Suit

Never wear just a regular suit, but a tailcoat and you will already by ahead of Seth Myers in his navy suit.

5. Do Not Wear a White or Off White Dinner Jacket

White or off-white dinner jackets are not appropriate for white tie events.

6. Do Not Wear a Regular Tuxedo

In the U.S., many people have no concept of formal wear and call anything a tuxedo that is not a suit, no matter if it is a morning coat, an evening tailcoat or a black tie tuxedo. Of course, you know better, and you should also know that a regular tuxedo should never be worn for white tie events. And if that’s the only option you have, either wear a waistcoat or cummerbund. Never expose your waistband and never wear belts with evening wear.

7. Do Not Wear Spats with Evening Wear

Spats are reserved for formal morning wear with a stroller suit or a morning coat. Johnny Depp, wanted to stand out and added white gloves and a cane to this outfit along with a pocket watch chain. That’s fine but the fact that he wears spats shows that he has no clue about proper evening dress etiquette. Check out this article about spats to learn more.

8. Do Not Wear Black Shirts

Jake Gyllenhaal’s outfit is inappropriate for various reasons but the one thing I want you to always remember here is never to wear a black shirt for formal evening events. It’s simply wrong and looks terrible.

9. Do Not Wear a Designer’s Name Visibly on Your Gown or Clothing

Sarah Jessica Parker in Oscar de la Renta gown - she insisted on the branding

Sarah Jessica Parker in Oscar de la Renta gown – she insisted on the branding

Visible labels or the designer’s name are tacky if you display them on your clothes. You should not wear them, especially not at a white tie event. Honestly, I would have expected more from Sarah Jessica Parker but here a quote:“Did you see his name on the back?” Parker asked, twirling around so we could see the designer’s signature in red script across the gown’s tail. “I said to Mr. De la Renta, please let me use scarlet embroidery thread, and splash your name across the back. It was my idea. He would never in a million years have done it, he’s far too modest.”

 10. Do Not Wear Wristwatches & White Soles

At one point in time, it would have been impolite to look at your watch in society. Later, pocket watches became acceptable with white tie, but wrist watches have always been wrong with white tie. That aside, white shoes or soles are inappropriate with white tie.

11. Do Not Wear a Studless Shirt & Don’t Skip the Bow Tie

A white tie shirt should show one to three studs, not more. Also, wear a white or off white bow tie in silk or cotton pique.

12. Do Not Wear a Morning Coat

A morning coat is only appropriate for formal daywear, not evening wear. Obviously, Marc Jacobs does not know that. To learn all about this garment and the etiquette, take a look at the Morning Dress Guide.

13. Do Not Wear a Cummerbund

Cummerbunds are appropriate to wear with a tuxedo for a black tie event, but not for a tailcoat ensemble with a tailcoat. Obviously, the cummerbund is the least these two gentlemen have to worry about…

14. Do Not Wear Notched Lapels

Notched lapels are too informal for a white tie event. Always make sure that your tailcoat has peaked lapels.

15. Do Not Wear A Dinner Jacket

The gentleman on the right wears a dinner jacket, which is wrong for a white tie event.

16. Do Not Show Any Shirt or Waistcoat Tabs

Overall, Tommy Hilfiger’s outfit is among the better ones. The lapels are smaller and proportional to his height, the waistcoat is nice but the details I want to point out is tabs. Unlike regular soft day shirts, white tie shirts have a starched shirt front, the so called bib. In order to prevent the shirt front from bulging up when you sit, it is connected to the trousers with a tab. The same is true for the waistcoat. Tommy Hilfiger obviously forgot about this tab, which is why it is showing. Do not show your shirt or waistcoat tab, instead, button it to the inside button of your trousers.

evening waistcoat

evening waistcoat

 17. Do Not Wear Waistcoats That Are Too Long

Probably the most common mistake among men who wear white tie for the first time is the fact that the waistcoat is too long. The reason for this phenomenon is probably the low rise of pants. While it is true that the waistcoat should always cover your waistband, the vest length and rise have to harmonize in the sense, that the trousers have to be cut high, and the waistcoat short, so the vest does not peek out from underneath the tailcoat. Also, you should not wear a belt with a vest, because it makes you look bigger and creates a gap between the vest and trousers. Now, last but not least I want to say that it is always easy to criticize but actually doing it better is the difficult part. As such, I would like to show you a picture of my personal white tie ensemble – as you can see, I preach wine, and I drink it too ;). Now, please share your white tie pictures with us, by sending them to me by email!

Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie

Sven Raphael Schneider in White Tie

What To Wear – Better White Tie Examples

Now let’s focus on the better outfits at the MET Gala Ball 2014.

0. Wear a quality White Tie bow tie.

In our shop, we offer white tie bow ties in your neck size so you look your best. Furthermore, we have a small version as well as a larger version depending on your taste and head size. Last but not least we offer the extremely rare single end bow tie for a particularly dapper look. Of course all of our bow ties are self-tie bow ties, and we offer videos that show how to properly tie a them.  (How To Tie a Bow Tie for BeginnersAdvanced Ways to Tie a Bow Tie & Single End Bow Tie Tutorial)


1. Do Wear a Pocket Watch

Bradley Cooper is wearing a Tom Ford ensemble that suits him well. He looks much better than the majority of the other men at the event. He only has a few things that could be improved. His shirt studs should not be plain black, that’s usually only appropriate for black tie. Also, his trousers are a bit tight indicated by all the wrinkles. He does a good job of wearing the right waistcoat and a watch chain. If all men would dress at his standard, the event would be fabulous.

Bradley Cooper at the Met Gala Ball 2014 in Tom Ford white tie ensemble. 2 stud front, single cuffs, trousers too tight, not the watch chain

Bradley Cooper at the Met Gala Ball 2014 in Tom Ford white tie ensemble. 2 stud front, single cuffs, trousers too tight, great  watch chain

2. Do Show Some Cuff

You definitely want to show some shirt cuff. Most men prefer between 0.25″ – 0.5″ appropriate, but even a little more can work for white tie, because generally the collar is higher and so you should also show a bit more cuff to keep it balanced. Eddie Redmayne is not showing any cuff and it looks noticeably worse than the outfit of Bradley Cooper above.

Eddie Redmayne in white tie - trousers a bit short, waitscoat too long, wristwatch but no cuffs

Eddie Redmayne in white tie – trousers a bit short, waistcoat toot long, wristwatch but no cuffs

3. Wear a Beautiful Boutonniere, Gloves & Top Hat

Accessories are very important for white tie. white, fine hair sheep leather gloves, a silk top hat, a pocket watch and a boutonniere are great way to upgrade your look. Tom Ford wears a beautiful set of diamond studs and matching waistcoat buttons. Proper evening waistcoats are tailored to be worn with exchangeable buttons. If you invest in a set in gold, and something white, you’ll never need anything else, and you can wear it forever.

4. Wear It With Confidence

A white tie ensemble needs to be worn with confidence and if you pay attention to what I said here, you have no reason not to be confident when you wear your white tie ensemble. There is truly no other garment for men that makes you look as elegant as a tailcoat with white tie.

5. Wear an Evening Overcoat

For white, a regular overcoat won’t do. A black Paletot may be good for double duty, but ideally you have a designated evening overcoat. I have one that is completely silk lined with button fly and peaked silk faced lapels, alternatively you can wear a cape like in the picture below.

6. Wear an Evening Waistcoat

Most places don’t sell you evening waistcoats but regular waistcoats in white. The difference is that evening waistcoats are cut out deeper so you can see the shirt front with the studs better.

7. Wear Patent Leather Shoes

Either go with patent leather opera pumps, with a bow (not slippers), or go with plain patent leather oxfords or derby shoes. These are the only appropriate footwear options for white tie.

8. Wear Over The Calf Silk Socks in Black

As a white tie gala is very formal it is essential to keep your legs covered at all times. The only way to ensure that is to wear over the calf socks in black that match your trousers. Now, cotton or wool won’t make it because they are more appropriate for daywear. Instead, go with a pair of silk over the calf socks. Just like any good pairs of socks, these do not come in one size fits it all, but rather in fixed sock sizes. You can find the absolute finest socks for a white tie ensemble here (no worries, you can also wear them for black tie so it’s a good investment). 

White Tie DO's & DON'Ts -Met Ball Gala
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White Tie DO's & DON'Ts -Met Ball Gala
Learn all about White Tie DO's & DON'Ts richly illustrated by pictures from the MET Gala Ball 2014, which had a white tie dress code.
Gentleman's Gazette
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55 replies
  1. Steve Harrison says:

    It saddens me that men don’t understand how to wear white tie. I am in white tie several times a month and horrified as to what I see.

  2. Old Time Dandy says:

    Good time for you Ladies and Gentlemen and þank you all for reading my reply.
    Firſt of all sorry for my bad engliſh.
    Ðere is some þings i would like to challenge, firſt, all ðis rules are made during Edward was a king, so if We will look for whole hiſtory of White Tie we will find ðat, ſlippers are not good-looking wið Tailcoat but ðere ara also elegant and ariſtocratic court-ſhoes, luſh and pompous ball-ſhoes and cute opera-ſhoes, ðat all made to be worn wið White-coat or Court-coat or wið Frock coat.
    What can i tell you about neck-tie, i don’t like ðem neiðer, because ðere are men’s ſhawls and scarves, bow-ties, ascots, ribbons.
    If we will look for Spaniſh’s “Majos” or French’s “Incroyables” (boþ are origin of White Tie we know) we will find ðat cummerbund (not modern ſtyle but like scarf) is acceſsory you muſt wear on very important event.
    About waiſtcoats i can tell you ðat it can be high as you wiſh, but not lower than your wriſt when your hands are on hips…

    I þink we muſt make our “modernized” white-tie or similar wearing.

  3. Female reader says:

    In some cases shown in those pictures the men brought a wrong accessory to the ball. Some of the women were looking like a tramp instead of a lady. Like the girl in the golden underwear.

  4. NKM says:

    It’s a shame that the Americans are easily discernible by their ill-fitting clothes and poor accoutrements. Benedict Cumberbatch is a welcome contrast. Even Tom Ford, unfortunately, looks poorly turned out.

    One thing the author points out that is incorrect is that it is ok to wear pocket watches. White tie occasions are meant to be occasions of leisure. It is rude, to both the host, and to people’s sensibilities, to have a watch on display. The implication is you’ll be checking it, impatiently waiting to move on. Therefore, I would think, if you must wear a watch (or are particularly bored and want to know when you can leave) a discreet white gold wrist watch with a black strap might stay more hidden than anything else. Remember, no yellow gold after 5pm!

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      I suggest, you read the article again, because what you say about me is incorrect ;).
      1. I say, it used to be not ok to have watches at all – so we agree on that.
      2. I say, pocket watched were accepted, wristwatches are

      • NKM says:

        I do stand corrected!

        It is most interesting, though, how much variation in conduct exists today. Where once the rules of men’s wear, formal and informal, were very rigid, today it seems that almost anything goes.

        I would feel uncomfortable wearing a pocket watch with white tie, but I do concede that it must be a commonly accepted convention. One thing is certain, however, that foot long chain that Mr. Depp has dangling from his coat is a little over the top!

    • ChristineU says:

      The gentleman in the forbidden dinner jacket is actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, OBE, so I guess not all the Brits got the same info. But yes, understanding of formal dress is greatly eroded in America.

  5. Park Jacob Weatherby says:

    Greetings as always,
    truly another very insightful article as well as informative also timely.

    I have been invite to a relatives wedding and have been considering wearing a tuxedo (Black in colour) that I own, first I want to know would it be appropriate to do so (it’s a fall wedding) and if so does any of the dress codes that apply to a “white tie event ” apply here?

    And just to reemphasis I always gain so much helpful knowledge whenever I have the opportunity to read articles here at GG!

    Best Regards,

    Park Jacob Weatherby

      • Park Jacob Weatherby says:

        Thanks so very much I apologize for my omission of the fact that the invitation specifically states formal attire…and this being my first such event after reading your article I was simply wondering if the same dress code would apply for a wedding.

        Again thanks for your input and I shall indeed speak with my host on what they consider to be proper attire for their special occasion.

        • Hal says:

          I wouldn’t disagree that dress code is a matter for your hosts and their view of what is appropriate should be your guide but, if the dress code is ‘formal attire’ then a tuxedo/dinner jacket or white tie might not be the right sort of formal clothing.

          Both black tie and white tie dress codes are evening wear. For daytime formal clothing take a look at the morning coat and ‘stroller’ or black lounge dress codes. This site has a sub-site all about them which could be a good place to start: http://www.morningdressguide.com/

  6. Elie says:

    Here’s the question. Is it outlandish to wear a fedora with a tuxedo? In my religion we wear fedoras regularly with our formal attire, but in this case, I may need to make an exception.

    • Hal says:

      You can wear a fedora with a the more relaxed tuxedo or dinner jacket but the slightly more formal homburg hat is generally considered more appropriate. In the past, however, everything from top hats to bowlers to soft felt alpine hats to straw boaters have been considered correct so a fedora is not without precedent.

      Don’t wear your fedora with white tie and tails, however. Here, silk top hats are the order of the day. George Sanders did sometimes pair his evening tails with a trilby in the late 30s and early 40s but it never caught on and white tie dress codes have now completely ossified as so few people ever wear it.

  7. John A Petty II says:

    …thank you, THANK YOU! Mr. Schneider!!
    …as many were “ooo’ing” and “aahh’ing” on my Facebook newsfeed -and elsewhere whenever I saw a picture it looked either ridiculously clowning or showed MAJOR DON’TS…(sadly little that was done was featured or appreciated..smh…)
    …given the overwhelming expressed appreciation of such poorly executed sartorial expression -and being sure what I seeing was terribly wrong- a feeling of being in the “Twilight Zone” pervaded…
    Again, Thank You Mr. Schneider for affirming reality!

  8. Dominik Caba says:

    Most of your suggestions and observations are top notch and perfectly true. Cumberbatch looks best IMO, but you insist on some outfits that the waistcoat is too long… which is wrong in some cases (even Cumberbatch shows a bit of waistcoat!) The waistcoat SHALL be seen and a bit longer than the tailcoat front, Flusser for example is wrong there. The true master of White Tie is located here in Vienna – at Knize… it is ok not to show waistcoat, but it is perfectly right and the more elegant variation to have the waistcoat extended a bit – Knize decorate their White Tie ensembles during the Ball Season with a waistcoat that is probably 2″ longer than the tailcoat front 🙂

    And please don’t tell me I am wrong here. My knowledge does come directly from Viennese tailors and Knize customers… from times BEFORE the world wide interweb was the main information source 😉

    Nice article anyway, a good read – best, Dominik

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Hello Dominik,
      Thanks for your comment. I love Vienna, and its white tie culture, and I spent a week there with my wife not long ago. I enjoyed many of the restaurants and stores, but Knize was certainly not one of them.
      Our knowledge is not based on Flusser – but rather from people who lived during the period, and magazines from that time. I have numerous books and magazines from England, Italy, Germany, France, U.S… and also from Vienna. I scanned about 1000 pages during my last trip to Vienna from the archives. I even saw an old Viennese clothes archive. ‘Der Gut Angezogene Herr’ (The Well Dressed Gentleman) a Viennese magazine highlights, not to show any vest. Every picture, every drawing shows the vest covered up. The same is true for the magazine “Der Wiener Schneidermeister” (The Viennese Master Tailor). Like I pointed out, there was a short period between 1910-1920 where the vest peaked out at the bottom, but that was because you could hardly see the vest in the front. Again, this was a quick do and don’t not an ultimate guide, because that would require its own website.
      That being said I find it a bit insulting that you imply we base our knowledge on information that is online because we actually do research and I built an archive in many hours, that no one else in the world possesses. It cost me countless hours and quite a bit of money to put together.

      I sent you a few pictures of the viennese magazines by email and I look forward to the Viennese magazines and photos from the 1920s and 1930s that backup your claims ;). Or at least tell me citable sources… thank you

      • Dominik Caba says:

        Hi Sven, of course I didn’t wan to insult anyone! But since there is the www, the number of clothing specialists radically increased, and most of them – you not included – have their knowledge from the web… I have been a bit fast when I wrote that.

        My evidence… I didn’t study old magazines and I don’t refer to the 1930s or 1920s as I don’t see any reason to do so – year after year I can see the white ties at Knize’s Vienna store in the shopwindow – if you want I can take a pic next time. Here is a pic of an old ex-minister of finance of Austria – Hannes Androsch – who is an exclusive Knize customer, unfortunately it is not as expressive as I would wish (the person on the far left):


        Another source has been the outfitter I worked for about 15-10 years ago – we learned there how to sell White Tie ensembles the right way… And an old tailor that worked for Knize for a long time, I spoke to several times. All insisted that the waistcoat should peak out a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t wrong to cover the waistcoat. But is definitely is NOT wrong NOT to cover it and I only say it’s wrong to say it is! 🙂 and from an astethical point of view: to show it is a tad more eleant. At least here we see it that way 🙂

        • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

          I have been at Knize twice within the last 10 years, and every time the service and knowledge level of the staff was disappointing. The lady I spoke to last time, had rudimentary knowledge in formal morning wear, but not more… The evidence doesn’t have to be from the 20s or 30s.
          how about 1880 – 1960, when white tie was worn more often than it is today? In this picture, it seems like it only peaks out because he is bending his upper body…

            • Linetti says:

              I have been there, during the fifth season as well. Never seen a waistcoat peekin’ under the front. And I think they would have taken the greatest care to ensure that their hallmark white tie style was also present on their homepage, their window to the world. But big surprise, since there is no such hallmark, they haven’t ensured a thing in this regard concerning their homepage pictures.

              And if you think only the real thing am Graben is good enough for your arguments, I have a surprise for you:

              Just help yourself and point me to the showing waistcoat.

              Many thanks in advance, I’m really really curious where you’ll find it.

  9. Dr. O.S. van Hees says:

    Instead of white tie, what about full regimentals or Scottish “Court Dress” ?

    • M.P. de Klerk says:

      What ho, doctor! It seems to me that these people have no connection with the military. And even if they do, this occasion hardly seems appropriate for wearing evening dress uniforms. Otherwise, I would agree.

  10. Reverend Richard de Meath says:

    I regret that my many sharp intakes of breath has left me rather stunned. It would appear some people have little idea of proper dress code, which is a terrible pity.
    However, there were several gentlemen who pass muster, and I give full marks to them. Sadly, as for the rest, please try harder next time!

    • CMG says:

      I happen to agree with you 100 % . Personally I believe it goes back to how one was bred and if He or She were given proper instructions as to the appropriate attire for the proper occasion !! On the other hand, the younger generation do certainly try to make their own fashion statements in their attire….sadly. Maybe as they age, so does their wisdom.

  11. Mark E. Seitelman says:

    The men look horrible. They look like they children playing “dress-up.”

    They do not know how to dress because they do not wear formal clothes in their daily lives. They do not own the clothes and accessories. Often, they hastily assemble an evening’s dress clothes through a “stylist” who himself doesn’t have the experience or taste in dressing. Usually, the stylists are mere shills of a designer.

    Often, the formal clothes are “free”, provided by a designer in exchange for promotion. The worst offender is Sarah Jessica Parker. Yes, Ms. Parker, it’s an Oscar de la Renta gown. Yes, Ms. Parker, you look beautiful and fabulous, absolutely fabulous. This insidious procedure has entered the mens side where celebrity men are often asked who made the evening clothes.

    What is interesting is that my father in rented white tie in 1948 looked great. The real deal. That was because he lived in an era when people dressed, and the ways of proper dress were not strange and alien to regular people.

    I say that all in all we live in a “low rent” era.

    Mark E. Seitelman
    http://www.seitleman.com. . .

  12. CMG says:

    That was certainly worth the read. Many thanks !! Always learn a lot in these news letters.

  13. Christian says:

    Great article as usual. The men dress badly, but really; it’s America; what did you expect?

    Don’t take me wrong, I am usually a friend of the US; Americans are a lovely and friendly people; but their clothing culture…
    Thank you, but I’m glad my forebears didn’t emigrate. 🙂

    Christian from Stockholm

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Hello Christian,
      I don’t think it has anything to do with America. Yes, on average they are more poorly dressed than other nations, but there are a number of people who are well dressed. Just think back to the Royal Wedding, and the white tie ensemble Daniel Westling wore, that was pretty bad as well…
      I’ll be in Stockholm next week btw ;).

      • Richard says:

        Hi Sven, I agree that it’s probably not about America as much as it is about people who are used to standing out with somewhat extravagant outfits who don’t know how to do that while respecting the formality of a white tie dresscode. From the pictures you displayed I would say those who managed to dress properly are the ones who stand out 😉

        Can you tell us more about your views on Daniel Westlings white tie ensemble at the Royal wedding? (I am also Swedish) As I look back at a few pictures now the one thing I notice is his shirt, but other than that I would call it a well tailored ensemble 🙂 I’m happy of course to hear what you as a professional see as “pretty bad”.

        Thanks in advance, a first time reader

  14. James says:

    Rules, Rules, Rules. It amazes me that there are so many rules for a man when he puts on clothes, No wonder men have lost interest in finery. To much finicky this and that. The very dress code we fuss about now was once disdained by the former dress code when it became the new fashion.
    Men’s fashion is long overdue for a change. It’s been over one hundred years now since men’s fine fashion has seen any change, everything is outdated and old.
    All this fuss is discouraging. I think everyone in the photos looked fine regardless of rules. In fact it appears to me that Johnny Depp and others were making a statement by, deliberately, breaking the rules to show their disdain for rules regarding mens fashion, the same is said of Jessica Parker who makes it a point for all to see the logo on her gown. I think it is time for men to wear what they feel best in and to be unique and allow their own personal preferences and creativity to shine. Look at all the women, none of them look the same as the other, the same individuality should be allowed to me. Men all look the same, no individuality whatsoever. No color, all black and white. I am bored of it. I spent all this money just to look like the next guy. It’s pretty, but also a gaping yawn.
    I’m sorry Sven. I love your site, but the finicky rules and fuss that some people inflict are severely discouraging.
    Brown only in Fall, Navy only in winter, grey only for business, peaked lapels notched lapels for this and only for that, Black only for funerals. Really it’s no wonder men are going about with their boxers and briefs showing. Men are up to their nostrils in rules and regulations. Just my opinion.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Well James, to me every man in the picture looks distinctly different, it all depends on where you are coming from. When you are a tennis spectator you see two people play, and one court is like another. If you are a pro player, you notice every little detail – the racquet, the strings, the light, the court, the balls… It’s the same with clothes. At the same time, this event already shows that everybody can wear what they want. And that’s fine, we can criticize them for it.
      Hollywood does not know how to accurately dress even if they want to. You can see that in old movies – the cars, the plates and even the size of the apples is authentic 1960’s but the clothes are not. They just pay less attention to it.
      Let me ask you this. Would it be ok to appear in a string tanga at this event if you feel like it?

      • Caio Castro says:

        You are right Sven

        White tie, black tie..and so on are not costume party



    • Hal says:

      There aren’t many times when there are strict dress codes. White tie is one of them. Most guys will probably never wear it but, if you are going to an event where that is the dress code, shouldn’t you get it right?

      The rest of the time you are free to dress as you choose and can bend or break whatever ‘rules’ or conventions you care to. Incidentally, I’ve never heard it suggested that brown is only appropriate in autumn or blue in winter or grey only for business, for that matter. If any such conventions exist I break them regularly but in doing so I’m not ignoring my host’s decision about dress code.

  15. Mickey G says:

    Hi Sven,
    I agree with you 100%. A few questions:

    1. Patterns like paisley in the material, is it exceptable?
    2. Should the shirt always be a bat wing collar?
    3. Scarves, should these always be a white silk with tassels or can you be a little flamboyant?
    4. What is the name of the game, to show off your lady, be a peacock or make you look tall and slim?

    I read the article but I am sure I didn’t find the answers to these questions, but I have been lazy at times and tend to skim read, so apologises in advance, or in arrears, whatever the case may be.

    Love your work
    Mickey G

  16. Jack H. says:

    Of course these people don’t know how to dress properly. Most of them are Hollywood types who have money but no class. They have no respect for tradition which dictates certain styles of dress. And they are narcissists to boot, so even if they care to wear the proper attire, they feel the need to include at least one item that screams “look at me”.

    • Mickey G says:

      It is all part of their job to have people look at them, that is how they are valued. Sorry to see that they forgo class for ‘razzle-dazzle’ or what they thought was class. Surely they read their lines, they could get a stylist to advise them on looking right. A statement has to be presented right or it is just noise, and these characters are very noisy.

  17. M.P. de Klerk says:


    Splendid and interesting article. Allow me to contribute a few remarks from the Netherlands present day practice. First of all, white tie occasions have become quite rare here too. However, if they occur, the Netherlands men appear to be a bit better informed than the stars pictured with this article. In my club, white tie outfits are usually only disturbed by the circumstance that some members (incorrectly) insist on wearing a regimental or club colours bow tie, in stead of a white one.

    The consensus in my country seems to be (and seems to have been since at least WWII) that it is absolutely acceptable if the waist coat is visible when slightly longer that the jacket front. Also, it is acceptable if the waist coat is slightly shorter, and thus less visible. However the preference seems to tend towards visibilty.

    By the way: as far as I understand, the photographed population consists of actors, authors and artists. I would expect that specifically the first category (actors) should be routined in wearing unfamiliar clothes. In the Netherlands however, these three categories of people are quite famous (I generalise) for their unwillingness or inability to follow even the basic rules of clothing etiquette.

    Lastly, a great compliment for Mr. Schneider’s double breasted waist coat and for the collar, that seems to be huge. Are they bespoke? And are they, perhaps, partly inspired by Mr. Bonneville and Mr. Stevens in “Downton Abbey”? They wear white tie ensembles with very interesting features, like rounder waist coats, slightly off-white bow ties and waist coats, and collars that stand up entirely, so without the triangular wings folded down. (It is difficult to see, but Mr. Ford in the pictures above seems to also wear an off-white waist coat and bow tie – am I correct?) Off course, the Downton Abbey costumes are supposed to represent the pre-WWII fashion, but since white tie so strongly connects with fashion history, it may be correct to bring back some of these historical details for variation purposes. Or is that risky, and should we avoid creating a historic masquerade?

    I don’t know how to post a picture, but I should show you my double breasted waist coat and standing (attached!) collar. This sort of waist coat is similar to prince Daniel’s, and although out of the ordinary, it became accepted and popular thanks to our late prince Bernhard, especially with morning coat. The main problem with prince Daniel’s outfit is indeed the shirt, which also appears to be off white due to the absence of underwear.

    With best wishes,

    M.P. de Klerk, NL

  18. McKerrell of Hillhouse says:

    Perhaps the cuffs for a white should be mentioned, starched cuffs should be single to allow traditional cufflinks to be used with the very stif cuff.

  19. James de Saxton says:

    Excellent points. At far too many white tie events in the US these days, only one or two of the gents will have it completely right–more frequently none. For the correct look and relation to coat and waistcoat length, the trousers must be really quite deep–at or above the navel in most cases. One would think that when the invitation states “white tie and decorations,” the attendees would be better turned-out, but I have found this not to be the case. Sadly, the teenagers at debutante balls are generally better fit out in their rental suits.

    I would take issue with the requirement that the suit be custom made in all instances–there are still quality houses and some for whom minimal alterations will produce an excellent fit. Full dress must certainly be tailored with extreme attention to detail and, in the US, the trousers will have to be custom made or altered, for a double braid off-the-rack here is Unobtanium.

    Thanks ever so much. Alas, as with so many of your excellent videos and articles, those who need them most are least likely ever to see them.


  20. J H Todd says:

    It is so much easier for Scots. A doublet worn with a lace jabot covers white and black tie occasions as well as allowing a wide variety of styles and accessories.

  21. Graham says:

    these replies are getting creepy. I’m interested in style, tribal codes of dress, and formal sartorial rituals as much as the next guy but the vibe and language in the comments (“tramps”? really?) is so odd, so simultaneously condescending and anachronistic. History is important but fashion moves on for a reason and it does so by the thoughtful bending and breaking of codes, usually as a way broker inclusion. It’s important to contemplate the implications of adhering so strictly (and snootily in some cases) to codes and rules of dress that were developed during a time when anyone who wasn’t a obscenely wealthy white dude held a status somewhere between property and perpetual underclass.

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