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Wearing A Black Tie
The outer seams are usually decorated with a single braid of silk or a material that matches or complements the lapel facing. Traditionally, braces suspenders , hidden by the waistcoat , are used to support the trousers.
Belts should not ever be worn with black tie trousers. Evening trousers can be flat-fronted or pleated today; pleats first coming into fashion in the s. Whilst flat-fronted trousers are more fashionable at present, pleated trousers may be considered more comfortable by men who have wider hips and a narrow waist.
A waist covering should generally be worn as part of a black tie ensemble. Either a low cut waistcoat or cummerbund may be worn, but never both at the same time. Although the English authority Debrett's consider that wearing a waistcoat is smart, they no longer consider either waist covering to be essential.
A low cut waistcoat should be worn when wearing a single-breasted coat. Waistcoasts come in the 'V' or rarer 'U' shape, in backless or fully backed versions, double or single breasted , with or without lapels. Single breasted styles typically have three buttons, and double breasted ones three or four rows. Before World War II, while black tie was still gaining acceptance, men would wear a white waistcoat , along with other details now associated primarily with white tie , such as stiff fronted shirts.
However, this style, though increasingly viewed as an affectation, is still acceptable in the United States. The waistcoat should be made from either the same fabric as the dinner jacket traditional or the same silk as the jacket's lapels popular.
When a waistcoat has lapels , they should be faced in the same silk as those of the jacket; in this case it is considered more refined if the body is made from the same fabric as the jacket.
The buttons may be self-faced or covered in the same silk as the lapels. Vintage waistcoats were sometimes closed with studs made from onyx or mother of pearl , which were often surrounded by a setting of silver or gold. A waistcoat is never worn with a double breasted jacket. Since this style of jacket is never unbuttoned, the waist of the trousers is never exposed, and therefore does not need to be covered,  though before World War II an edge of waistcoat was often shown between the jacket and shirt.
A cummerbund may be worn with a dinner jacket in lieu of a waistcoat and, although it is considered slightly less formal, it is equally correct. It looks especially well with a shawl collar dinner jacket but may be worn in conjunction with peak lapels. The material of the cummerbund should be silk satin , grosgrain or faille , or barathea to match that of the bow tie. It features upward facing folds, which were originally used to store theatre or opera tickets, and are now considered to be more decorative than functional.
Just like the waistcoat , cummerbunds are not worn with a double breasted jacket. As the cummerbund is seen as an extension of the trousers, traditionally it should the same colour, i. Some higher quality models feature a hidden pocket and an elastic loop to fasten to the trousers. Shirts designed to be worn with black tie are called "formal shirts," or "tuxedo shirts" in American English and "dress shirts" in British English.
In the earlyth century, a piqué shirt with a detachable wing collar and single cuffs such as is worn with white tie was used, and in the s and s ruffled bibs were popular, but neither styles are often seen today.
The wing collar originally disappeared in black tie after the s when the appropriately semi-formal attached turndown collar shirt became preferred, but it has been popular with American men in a less substantial, attached form since the s. However, many style authorities argue that the wing collar should remain the domain of white tie for aesthetic reasons.
Although some style authorities consider the wing collar to be an acceptable option for black tie shirts, they should not be worn with double cuffs or a pleated bib,  and are better suited to the more formal single-breasted peak lapel jacket. When a full dress shirt is worn in this fashion, it should be accompanied by the white marcella waistcoat ordinarily associated with white tie. Debrett's do not endorse the wing collar as being compatible with the black tie dress code.
The more formal marcella version of the shirt fastens with matching shirt studs. These are most commonly in silver or gold settings, featuring onyx or mother-of-pearl ; various geometrical shapes are worn, e. There has been no consistent fashion preference for gold or silver, but studs with mother-of-pearl are more formal and therefore often associated with white tie.
The soft-front pleated version of the shirt should be fastened with mother-of-pearl buttons, typically supplied with the shirt on a separate strip of fabric. Alternatively, a fly-front shirt, appropriate with both the marcella and pleated bibs, conceals the placket for a more minimalistic look.
There are several types of cufflinks that may be worn with black tie. The most formal and decorative are the double-panel type, which dress both sides of the cuff and are connected by a chain or link of metal; this model conceals the mechanism by which the cuff is secured.
The most common, and least decorative, are the swivel bar type; whilst these are acceptable, they leave the inner side of the cuffs and mechanism exposed which is incongruous with formal dress.
The most formal and traditional shoes are patent leather opera pumps court shoes decorated with grosgrain bows. The more popular alternative currently is the black lace-up Oxford shoe , in patent leather or calfskin , with a rounded plain toe. Brogueing or any other decorative patterns should never be seen on Black Tie footwear.
Shoes are almost invariably black and patent leather is considered more formal than matte finishes while pumps are considered more formal than lace-ups. Generally considered too informal for black tie are shoes with open lacing, such as the Derby shoe bluchers in American English. Notable alternatives include the black button boot primarily of historical interest only and the monogrammed Albert slipper which was originally worn only at home.
The black Gucci loafer in leather is also considered as an alternative, especially in urban British settings. Most etiquette and fashion guides of the current decade recommend keeping color touches and favoring a single color, usually dark; muted reds, such as maroon, are a traditional choice.
A handkerchief in linen traditional , silk, or cotton is usually worn in the breast pocket. A flower may be worn. Red and white carnation , blue cornflower , and rosebud have all been popular at times. In France , the boutonnière is usually a gardenia. Black-tie events do not involve outerwear and coats and gloves are no longer considered part of the dress code. However, etiquette for what to wear in public in transit to and from black tie occasions was stiffer in earlier eras and remain an option: Matching overcoats are usually black, charcoal , or dark blue , and traditionally of the Chesterfield style.
A guards coat was also once popular, and a lighter topcoat can be worn in summer. Historically, an Inverness coat was also worn. Until the midth century, gloves and scarves were always worn, and are still occasionally seen in gray leather and white silk, respectively.
White kid gloves have never been standard with black tie, remaining exclusive to white tie dress. The 20th-century standard hat for black tie was a black or midnight blue Homburg in winter,   or straw boater in spring and summer. Black-tie dress does not require a hat today. Military, civil, and organizational decorations are usually worn only to full dress events, generally of formal governmental or diplomatic significance.
Unlike in white tie , where decorations are always permitted, the dress code will usually give some indication when decorations are to be worn with black tie. Traditionally visible timepieces are not worn with formal evening dress, because timekeeping is not supposed to be considered a priority. Pocket watches are acceptable. Black tie is worn to private and public dinners, balls , and parties.
At the more formal end of the social spectrum, it has to a large extent replaced the more formal white tie. The black tie code is sometimes classified as "semi-formal" in contrast to the "formal" white tie, or as "formal" in contrast to the "most formal" of white tie.
Once more common, white tie dress code is now fairly rare, being reserved for only extremely formal occasions. Black tie's rough daytime equivalent is the stroller , which is less formal than morning dress because as with black tie it replaces the tailcoat with a lounge coat.
Curiously, in opposition to the trend seen in evening dress, the less formal stroller is now extraordinarily rare, whereas morning dress is still relatively common. When the dress code for an event starting at or after 6 o'clock in the evening is described as 'formal' with no further qualification, the invitee may choose to wear either black tie or a dark lounge suit with a tie.
Traditionally, black tie should be worn to the opera although a dark lounge suit is also now acceptable. Black tie is customary at English country house opera, such as during the summer Festival at Glyndebourne. Black tie should also be worn at a ballet or orchestra gala. At formal dinners on cruise ships the dress code will typically be black tie although a dark lounge suit may be worn as a substitute.
Some university debating societies, such as at Oxford  and Durham  conduct at least some of their debates in black tie. In the last few decades, in place of the traditional white tie or morning dress , black tie has been increasingly seen in the United States at formal day wedding. However, etiquette and clothing experts continue to discourage or condemn the wearing of black tie as too informal for weddings, or any event before 7 p. In the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe , although a minority accepts black tie at evening receptions , including some Jewish weddings ,  it is seldom worn at church weddings or civil ceremonies where instead white tie , morning dress or a lounge suit is normally favoured.
In some places, local variations of white tie etiquette may traditionally be worn, such as highland dress in Scotland. For formal dining, uniformed services officers and non-commissioned officers often wear mess dress equivalents to the civilian black tie and evening dress.
Mess uniforms may vary according to the wearers' respective branches of the armed services, regiments, or corps, but usually include a short Eton-style coat reaching to the waist.
Some include white shirts, black bow ties, and low-cut waistcoats, while others feature high collars that fasten around the neck and corresponding high-gorge waistcoats. Some nations' armed services have black tie and white tie equivalent variants in their mess dress. In tropical areas, primarily in Western diplomatic and expatriate communities, Red Sea rig is sometimes worn, in which the jacket and waistcoat are omitted and a red cummerbund and trousers with red piping are worn instead.
Scottish Highland dress is often worn to black- and white-tie occasions, especially at Scottish reels and ceilidhs ; the black-tie version is more common, even at white-tie occasions. Traditionally, black-tie Scots Highland dress comprises:. Traditional black-tie Lowland dress is a variant of the normal black tie that includes tartan trews rather than the usual trousers and may include a suitable kilt jacket instead of the dinner jacket.
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