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The REAL guide to renting for prom.

Midnight Blue

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Toronto, Canada
Why Mess with a Classic?

Great to see such good advice being given to young men. I'm creating an entire web site just for that purpose because I'm astounded at the misinformation being spread by formalwear rental shops. In fact when I spoke with the International Formalwear Association I was informed that tailcoats are just a type of tuxedo jacket and formalwear was red prior to the invention of the tuxedo - by the Executive Director, no less!

For me there is no better argument for avoiding modern fads in favor of tried and true classic protocols than a 1969 After Six ad shown here.

The ad mocks the concept of traditional black tie as being "dull" and unexciting and proudly displays the trendy accessories that After Six offered as alternatives. Looking at it today it's obvious that the message couldn't have been more wrong. The colorful & ruffled contemporary alternatives look absolutely ridiculous while the ridiculed classic ensemble actually makes the wearer look as handsome and sophisticated in 1969 as it would today. Yet rental shops have continued to make these types of claims ever since. They still insist that traditional guidelines should be ignored in favour of current trends, oblivious to the fact that this advice has been proved wrong time and time again.

Sadly, I fear that the variations offered today are more detrimental to black tie than anything offered in the past. While it's true that the formal creations of the 70s were terribly gaudy only now do I realize that at least they had imagination and flare. In contrast, today's addition of notched lapels, flap pockets, four-in-hand ties and the disappearance of cummerbunds and waistcoats have essentially reduced the tuxedo to little more than a black business suit. (Don't get me started on the clueless Hollywood and professional sports celebrities that endorse this kind of trend!)

On another note, I just wanted to add to the the white waistcoat discussion by pointing out that it was frequently worn with black tie until WWII. In fact Emily Post despised black waistcoats and advised readers to avoid them right up until the 1965 edition of her Etiquette book!
 

Jovan

Suspended
Messages
4,095
Location
Gainesville, Florida
Notched lapel dinner jackets have been around since the early 1920s from what others have said here and I've seen in old catalogues. I can't see the ad, by the way. Did you forget to link it?

But yeah, thankfully most rental places do offer classic options. They won't be as well made or fitting, sure, but they'll look the part enough. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Anyone can look dapper on a small budget so long as they're comfortable and stick to the tried and true. Even Savile Row tailor Thomas Mahon has an informative article on doing so. I should ask him to make a similar article on formal wear. :)
 

Cobden

Practically Family
Messages
788
Location
Oxford, UK
Jovan said:
:confused: Dinner jackets have existed since the late 1800s, dude.

Yes, but didn't really become popular in Britain, really, until the 1930's, when most of the modern rules came in.

Good website, btw, midnight blue.
 

Jovan

Suspended
Messages
4,095
Location
Gainesville, Florida
... what the hell. That guy in the ad looks great as he is. If he came in wearing one of those shirts and ties, I'm sure he'd be laughed out of there in an instant.
 

benstephens

Practically Family
Messages
689
Location
Aldershot, UK
It is interesting Steve that you have a White waistcoat that came with a jacket. It apparently became fashionable for about a year in the 1920s to do this, and then soon moved into the "faux-pas" catergory. This is the same with a black waist coat being worn with a tail jacket, small bowties, the list is endless.

Interestingly, it appears from contemporary sources that the wearing of a Black Waistcoat with a tail jacket was much more popular and continued for longer on the continent.

I personally think for a 1930s look (or to follow the 'rules'?) it is a little incongruous to wear a dinner jacket with a white waistcoat.

Ben
 

Midnight Blue

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Toronto, Canada
benstephens said:
It is interesting Steve that you have a White waistcoat that came with a jacket. It apparently became fashionable for about a year in the 1920s to do this, and then soon moved into the "faux-pas" catergory.
I personally think for a 1930s look (or to follow the 'rules'?) it is a little incongruous to wear a dinner jacket with a white waistcoat.

Ben

You're giving the white waistcoat short shrift, I'm afraid. It was considered acceptable for semiformal dress by Men's Wear throughout the 20s and Apparel Arts up until at least 1933. Furthermore, etiquette authorities Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post deemed it correct all the way up until 1972 and 1975 respectively.
 

benstephens

Practically Family
Messages
689
Location
Aldershot, UK
I don't think this was the case on this side of the Atlantic. It is very seldom if ever seen in any period photographs, and the Tailor and Cutting magazines I have seen advise against it. However, I am not dismissing the idea. If you could send me some evidence to substantiate this, I can put it with the rest of my research. It must be contemporary British sources please, as that is the content of my research.

Jovan, I know we don't I was replying in response to Cobden.

Kindest Regards

Ben
 

Midnight Blue

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Toronto, Canada
benstephens said:
I don't think this was the case on this side of the Atlantic. It is very seldom if ever seen in any period photographs, and the Tailor and Cutting magazines I have seen advise against it. However, I am not dismissing the idea. If you could send me some evidence to substantiate this, I can put it with the rest of my research. It must be contemporary British sources please, as that is the content of my research.
Ben

I'd be happy to follow up with you directly as I think that would be the most efficient route. However, I do not yet have permission to send private messages on this forum so I would appreciate it if you could contact me using the link at the bottom of any page in my web site www.blacktieguide.com.

Cheers,

Peter
 

Jovan

Suspended
Messages
4,095
Location
Gainesville, Florida
Midnight: You need to have 15 posts to PM, for the protection of members. From what I understand, that and the need to have a private email address are ways to discourage spammers and trolls since they used to have many here.

So, only four more posts until you can!
 

Undertow

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,126
Location
Des Moines, IA, US
Honestly...

I don't really mind notch lapels.

I like peak, I think they look nice, but it's 6 of one and half dozen of another to me. If you look great in your dinner jacket, the lapels shouldn't matter. If you can pull off a strange frilly shirt, and look smashing, hey, you're a better man than I. And moreover, if the notch lapel jacket fits like a glove, I wouldn't dare settle for some baggy peak lapel jacket by any means.

I personally don't find notch lapels as offensive as everyone else. To me, it's simply another variety.

And as far as "formality" and "classic style", I can see where peak or shawl lapels are "more formal", however, if everything you're wearing is top notch and the only difference between you and the other guests is your jacket...shoot...no worries, I say.

But I suppose if snobbery is in order...:rolleyes:
 

Jovan

Suspended
Messages
4,095
Location
Gainesville, Florida
I'm probably one of the biggest snobs when it comes to that. It's not offensive, just simply not correct. And it somehow never looks right to me no matter how well fitted it is... like wearing a necktie with a dinner jacket.
 

Undertow

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,126
Location
Des Moines, IA, US
Jovan said:
I'm probably one of the biggest snobs when it comes to that. It's not offensive, just simply not correct. And it somehow never looks right to me no matter how well fitted it is... like wearing a necktie with a dinner jacket.

Ha, you know, at first I'd have to agree with you, it used to drive me mad to see someone wearing a tie and dinner jacket. Good god!

But I saw a wedding party with some very dandy gentleman wearing the necktie and dinner jacket combo and it was wonderful.

They pulled it off very well. I wish I had a picture of them because I think you all would have agreed. I can't even remember the colors they used, but I assure you, it was tasteful.
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,154
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
Black tie optional

OK, here's a question: I'm invited to a dinner dance TOMORROW NIGHT at the WALDORF ASTORIA in New York. I'm told it's black tie optional. To me, if it's black tie, it ought to be black tie. I don't relish the idea of being in a suit, mingling with other chaps in tuxes. However, that's going to be my situation, since my old tux magically seems to have gotten too small for me over the years, and I haven't gotten around to getting a new one. I mean, it just hasn't been at the top of my list.
Here's my question: I'll wear my newish dark suit, but what do you guys think of the idea of wearing a (hand tied, of course) bow tie with it? Or will this just look dopey? I think I know the answer already, but I'm curious to see the feedback here.
Thanks!
 

Jovan

Suspended
Messages
4,095
Location
Gainesville, Florida
People might see it as trying to be in a dinner jacket if you wear a black bow tie. Something patterned, like white polka dots on a dark colour, would look splendid. Three piece suit will up the formality a bit. :)
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,154
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Next question: If I'm in a dark suit, my date shgould not wear an evening gown, right? She should wear "cocktail dress"?
 

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