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Tuxedo jacket with shawl collar. Classification: Formal.

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Personal Overview

Formal Wear for name

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General Overview

Formal Wear

There are three classifications of formal wear:

  • White Tie
  • Black Tie
  • Morning Coat

The term `Black tie' is confusing due to the fact that no black tie is worn. If the invitation says `Black tie preferred', it means that it's a formal affair but a good suit is acceptable. If the invitation says `Black tie' it means it is not optional and you can be sure the host will be wearing it. For the sake of your image, it is best to go the extra distance and wear the appropriate attire. If you attend three or more `Black tie' functions a year, it is advisable to purchase a suit, as rented suit will never look as good as one purchased and adjusted for you. This should cost the same as a good suit.

Black tie or Formal attire requires you to wear a black dinner suit unless it is summer, or the function is during the day. You may then wear a white jacket in a light weight worsted wool dinner jacket. This dinner jacket is also called a Tuxedo. This jacket has remained virtually unchanged since its invention for King Edward VII until the 1930's.

The Prince of Wales, later to become the Duke of Windsor, appeared later in a double- breasted version. Double-breasted dinner jackets must remain closed at all times. There are four proper styles of dinner jacket: the single or double-breasted with a peaked lapel with grosgrain facing on the lapel, or the single or double-breasted with a shawl collar with grosgrain or satin on the lapel facing. Notched lapels have crept into use but are not considered as proper as the shawl or peaked lapel. When buying a dinner suit, a single-breasted, peaked lapel is the most versatile as it can be worn with or without a vest, with a cummerbund (never both together) and with a turndown collar (as pictured) or a winged collar.

Dinner suit trousers should follow the rules of day wear and be in the same fabric as the jacket. The trouser bottoms should never be cuffed and they should break just on top of the shoe. On each trouser leg there should be a braid of satin or grosgrain (matching whatever is on the lapels). The braid is a remnant from military uniforms. The waist band of the trousers should be covered by a vest or cummerbund.

If a vest is worn, it should be a formal style with either a plain front or have a shawl collar. It should be deeply cut to show off the formal shirt and may be single or double- breasted. The traditional vest comes in the same fabric as

should always face up, this is because the traditional cummerbund had a small pocket to hold opera or theatre tickets.

The tie should be a bow tie for all forms of formal wear except the morning coat where
a cravat is considered most appropriate (a bow tie is acceptable). For a truly polished appearance a hand tied bow tie is necessary. The fabric of the bow should coordinate with the lapel facings-satin for satin lapels, twill or barathea for grosgrain.

Shoes should be a patent-leather oxfords. Pocket handkerchiefs should be of linen in a T.V., or square fold, extending no more than 2.5 cm (1"). A flower in the lapel buttonhole should be a white rose, gardenia or carnation. If there is no button hole do not pin the flower opt instead to go without.

White tie is the most formal of formal wear. White tie occasions today are rare, e.g., a gala ball or a president's inauguration party. It is also worn by musicians when they play as part of a grand orchestra. If you have the honor of attending a white tie function, you will need to wear tails. The total outfit is a black tail coat with matching trousers (the trousers have two rows of braid), a white piqué vest, a white stiff wing-collared shirt with stiff piqué front and a white piqué bow tie. The tail coat was originally double- breasted. When later remodeled, it retained the double set of buttons but is now a cutaway style designed not to closed at all. The white vest, traditionally has a shawl collar and can be both single or double-breasted. In its most correct proportions, it is always shorter than the coat front. However, modern day adaptations often see the vest longer, so that it protrudes beneath the coat front. The tails should extend in length to exactly the back of the knees.