Formal Wear Primer

Discussion in 'Suits' started by shindeco, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. Bespoke

    Bespoke New in Town

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    Shindeco: Bravissimo!

    I'm a recent member, but I wanted to compliment you on your brilliant "Formal Wear Primer" post.

    That said, I would like to pose a question and pass along a comment:

    The Question: Isn't .5" of [shirt] cuff exposition considered de rigueur?
    The sleeves of your tailcoat and white dinner jacket appear to be a bit too abbreviated as you appear to be showing upwards of ~1" cuff beneath your jacket sleeves.

    The comment: Recently, while attending a black tie affair, I was chastized by a well-respected fashion maven for appearing in formal garb donning my usual pair of small, designer spectacles. He indicated that this was akin to wearing one's cell phone [as a presumed fashion accessory] dangling openly from one's waistcoat pocket.
    I of course begged this wag's pardon for my apparent lapse of sartorial judgement and sashayed away in bewildered confusion. It wasn't until I viewed your photos that I got the point. There's just something about our (relatively funky) 21st-century eyeglasswear that just doesn't seem right atop the timeless understatement of classic formal wear.
     
  2. Cobden

    Cobden Practically Family

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    Location:
    Oxford, UK
    Are you sure? That looks more like a morning coat, the daywear equivalent of tails.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. shindeco

    shindeco A-List Customer

    Hey, Tony.
    Technically, the jacket in the picture is a morning coat; not evening wear. It's what you wear to formal events before 6:00 pm. Not having seen Titanic, I can't comment on the coats in the movie.

    As for MTM tailcoats; any competent tailor should be able to make one. I may have mentioned this elsewehere but check out where the local ballroom dancers get theirs made. There's usually someone who does the dancers and he will be used to making the coats (and will cut them with higher armholes, to boot!
     
  4. shindeco

    shindeco A-List Customer

    Thanks and welcome.

    Half an inch seems to be the definition of "showing a lot of cuff" nowadays but It's by no means the only or "must have". Certainly, in previous days, more cuff was considered fashionable. I know that Esquire in their Winter, 1932 issue said that three quarters of an inch was the current style. I happen to like showing quite a lot of cuff with my evening clothes so I do. Wear what's comfortable for you.

    The glasses issue--Hmm. It amazes me what people feel they're allowed to say! Personally, I wear glasses so I can see better.
     
  5. Bespoke

    Bespoke New in Town

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    Location:
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    Of course, those of us with imperfect vision need our spec's to see who's about to pop their champagne cork in our general direction. But, perhaps, a more conservatively styled design of eyeglass frame would result in less hackle-raising when worn in the vicinity of tails, dinner jackets or sartorial high-brows?
     
  6. Tony in Tarzana

    Tony in Tarzana My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    It's my understanding that morning coats are fastened with one button, and that evening tail coats have decorative buttons only, no fastening. Am I way off base?

    In "Titanic" the tail coats they wore to dinner in First Class did not button, but they did not have the "up and down" (can't think of a better description) cutaway that one normally sees on an evening tail coat.

    I need to get a DVD drive for my computer so I can get some screen caps.

    EDIT: I'm a schmuck, the coat in that picture does indeed have a one-button closure. I'll have to find and review my "Titanic" VHS to make sure I'm not completely talking out of my patootie.
     
  7. Mr. Rover

    Mr. Rover One Too Many

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    Studs on a waiscoat

    Where can one obtain waistcoat studs for a white pique/marcella backless waistcoat?
     
  8. Back in the Golden Era a set of dress studs meant a pair of matching cufflinks, two or three shirt studs, and four waistcoat button studs. Everything was identical except in size. Generally, white tie and tails called for cufflinks, shirt studs and waistcoat button studs of mother-of-pearl in a platinum setting. (See photo below.) Black tie usually called for onyx or black enamel in a white gold setting.

    There were high-priced exceptions. Tiffany and Asprey, for instance, made dress stud sets with diamonds and precious stones. Settings were sometimes 24 carat gold, or heavy platinum.

    I recommend that you hunt on eBay for a full set of dress studs made for white tie and tails. Look for "Krementz", one of the leading makers of the '20s and '30s. White mother-of-pearl in a platinum plated setting. Don't just buy waistcoat button studs: you'll never be able to match them properly to your cufflinks and shirt studs unless you buy them together as a full set, like the one below:



    [​IMG]

    .
     
  9. Mr. Rover

    Mr. Rover One Too Many

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    Would it be proper to wear a white backless waistcoat for black tie with a black tuxedo?

    Edit: I looked in my dad's closet to see what formalwear studs he has. He has a set of 10 MOP studs and matching cuff links.
     
  10. Good question! In the 1920s, wearing a white waistcoat with a tuxedo (as opposed to a set of tails) was VERY popular, especially among young men (university students, for instance). It was seen as fashionably daring; older, more conservative men stuck to their black waistcoats.

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  11. Powerhouse

    Powerhouse One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    Evening wear?????

    Hello all,

    I am undecided on an outfit for the QM event. I was thinking of white Dbl Brstd Bltd Bck jacket with black pants(w/ ribbon), a white waist coat, white/or black shoes?, Black Bow tie/white ascot?, Shirt collar???, Black Bowler/ Skimmer?

    please reply with your ideas. Thanks.
     
  12. It depends on what you're trying to achieve: vintage authenticity, or your own personal twist on it.

    From a historical point of view, a belted-back jacket with tuxedo trousers is not "true to the period". Neither is a white ascot, with that particular ensemble. Also, evening waistcoats were not worn with double-breasted evening jackets, nor with white evening jackets of any kind. (Cummerbunds were worn with white jackets, even back in the '30s.)

    HOWEVER ... if "period perfect" is not what you're going after, then just wear what makes you feel good! From a strictly esthetic (and not necessarily historical) point of view, I'd go with a turndown collar; black shoes; a black, midnight blue, or deep burgundy bowtie and matching cummerbund; and a skimmer (straw boater) with a black ribbon. The jacket/trousers combo you've mentioned sounds esthetically fine.


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  13. Powerhouse

    Powerhouse One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    thanks,

    I try to be as period(1930's) as possible with everything, but also I never like to be part of the herd. As a modernist I don't "do the norm" anyway.

    GREAT ADVICE! You are a wealth of knowledge.

    I am going to forget the waist coat and go with the cummerbund, maybe go with a matching bow tie or ascot, black or white pants(part of the suit anyway) Skimmer with black band, and purple and orange striped...just kidding...

    well it is a work in progress....any more comments would be greatly appreciated as usual.

    by the way Marc... what in the world is that hat on your avatar?
     
  14. Mr. Rover

    Mr. Rover One Too Many

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    If you're wearing a DB jacket, a cummerbund becomes unnecessary.
     
  15. Powerhouse

    Powerhouse One of the Regulars

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    276
    Location:
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    Oh...

    It looked like some kind a fly trap....
     
  16. Powerhouse

    Powerhouse One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    SAN DIEGO, CA
    Oh yes, I might wear a sb white dinner jacket ... I gotta check it all out when i get home today...

    Ghos7a55assin, I haven't forgot about that jacket for ya...I will get pics soon.
     
  17. Tony in Tarzana

    Tony in Tarzana My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
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    I'm still trying to decide myself. High, stiff collars and short, thick necks don't seem to mix well.
     
  18. True, but I'd wear one anyway. Just a personal preference, I guess.

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  19. They don't. Low wingtip collars exist, but you'll have to hunt a bit. Much easier to wear an evening shirt with a turndown collar.

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