As I write this, it is the eve of Halloween but the scariest thought is that Christmas is a mere 8 weeks away! Luckily, the arrival of Christmas brings with it the season for dinner suits once more. This means having an excuse to dress to the nines and do our best Sean Connery impressions in the mirror. The difference is, of course, that Sean Connery knew exactly what he was doing with his dinner suit.
Luckily, you have this handy blog to guide you through the maze of faux pas that dinner suit season brings with it.
Where it started
Dinner suits were first invented by Henry Pool of Savile row in 1886. The then Prince of Wales requested that his tailor make him a short tail-coat to be worn at formal dinners. He felt that his everyday lounge suits were too informal for such events, while tail-coats he saw as too formal – besides the tails were an awful nuisance whist seated or dancing. The original dinner suit was cut from midnight blue mohair, as the cloth had a slight shine and appeared black in low light whilst appearing blue in the day.
Though a midnight blue was the first type of dinner suit, black became a more popular option, which is why most dinner suits seen today are black. This being said, many celebrities have popularised the idea of different coloured and textured dinner suits. While this experimentation is great if you are a celebrity, arriving to a black tie event in a red jacquard dinner suit may raise more than a few eyebrows and could even leave you thrown out in the cold!
A dinner suit should look immaculate. All lines should be clean and interrupted. Even if every other rule in the book is followed, an ill-fitting dinner suit will look awful. Unless you are incredibly lucky and find a hire or off-the-peg suit that fits – go bespoke. You will have the suit for many-many years and it will fit perfectly every single time.
There are a few basic ideas behind the dinner suit that should be followed to keep a dinner suit, a dinner suit. Such as…
– For a dinner suit there are two options for your lapel, these options are shawl or peak. Shawl lapels are only seen on dinner suits and smoking jackets, as these are very formal garments. A peak lapel is also very formal and so is perfectly acceptable on a dinner suits. Notch lapels are the least formal lapel and so should be saved for day-to-day lounge suits. Whichever lapel you chose, it should always be in satin.
– A dinner suit should always have Jetted pockets in satin to match the lapels. Flap pockets and patch pockets both created unwanted bulk – a dinner suit is very formal and so should have as little detail as possible.
– Dinner suits used to always be single breasted with only one button. This button should be kept fastened at all times. The addition of a second button (which should never be fastened) creates extra unnessesary detail which is to be avoided – if its single breasted it should only ever have one button. This button (and the cuff buttons) should be cloth coloured to match the suit, again helping blend it into the suit and remove unnecessary detail.
Some dinner suits in the modern age are double breasted. When this is the case, as long as the rest of the previous rules are followed it is still perfectly acceptable at a black tie event. However, if you are following the theme here, the less buttons on the garment the cleaner the look is. By that rule, a 2x2 double-breasted garment will be smarter to look at than a 3x2 double-breasted.
– On a British lounge suit you will likely find two vents on the back of the jacket. These allow for movement and comfort when the suit is worn all day. Dinner suits on the other hand do not need this added movement; their only function is to make the wearer look immaculate. It is for this reason that a true dinner suit should have no vents. No vents mean the jacket will remain stiff with little movement, reducing the risk of creasing and as it is worn only one or two evenings a year, you needn’t concern yourself with comfort.
– The trousers can be pleated or flat fronted, depending on the wearers taste but must always have a plain hem (to reduce detail) and a satin band running down the outer seam to match the lapels and pockets. Some people will choose to have the trouser high waisted to prevent the white triangle of shirt showing between jacket and trouser – with the triangle gone there is no need to wear a cumberbund or waistcoat.
The waistcoat – Not seen very often these days is a waistcoat with a dinner suit. It used to be that a dinner suit should only ever be worn with a waistcoat or a cumberbund so as to stop the little white triangle of shirt from showing between the jacket and trouser. If you opt for a waistcoat, it should be a horseshoe (scoop). Either double or single breasted is acceptable
So we know that midnight blue or black are acceptable. Brighter colours have been touched on and – though celebs do it – should be avoided for black tie. This leaves the infamous white dinner jacket. Popularised by Sean Connery in Dr. No, the white dinner jacket is seen by some as the coolest option for dinner wear. It’s a great way of getting noticed, but not always for the right reasons!
As a guest at a host’s dinner function, arriving in a white jacket may be interpreted as an attention seeking look-at-me manoeuvre, so be cautious and gauge how appropriate it will be – perhaps even ask the host if it is acceptable, beforehand. Some might suggest that a white jacket is only acceptable for dinner attire in hotter climates, making it a good option for cruises and get-aways.
Shoes and socks
– There are really only two shoes styles you can choose from, the first (and safest in Britain) is a patent whole-cut oxford. The whole-cut eliminates detail on the shoe (such as toecaps) and the high shine that a patent shoe offers adds formality that your day-to-day oxfords do not have. See our blog on
for further detail.
The second, riskier option, is to wear a formal pump with a ribbon atop the shoe. This style shoe should still be black patent leather, but exposes more foot and adds a detail that some might frown upon – so wear with caution. Tradionally. socks would always have been black silk but, in this day, as long as they are black they will be perfectly acceptable.
– Perhaps the biggest faux pas seen with black tie is not the suit itself – but rather the shirt that it is paired with. A dinner suit should only ever be worn with a turn-down collar, be it a kent or a cut-away. NEVER a wing-tip collar. Wing-tips are to be reserved for morning wear and white tie functions. The cuff should always be a double (French) cuff, or – again because of Bond – a cocktail cuff. Both cuffs require folding back, but a French cuff creates the need for cufflinks while the cocktail cuff fastens with buttons. See our blog on
for further detail.
Traditionally shirts would be worn with a pleated bib, though nowadays this is seen as a very old-school style. A Marcella bib is a more modern alternative. The shirt should either have its buttons hidden under the front placket, or it should be fastened using black or pearl shirt studs.
– Another common faux pas is to wear any old cufflinks with a dinner suit. Cufflinks should be either in black or pearl – much like dress studs.
– When wearing with a dinner suit, one should only ever wear white and (if following the rule book) linen – folded into a neat rectangle. Anything more flamboyant detracts from the rest of the tidy/ immaculate look of the suit.
– As long as the bow tie is black, you are fairly safe from the fashion police. This being said, tiny or huge bow ties are a huge no-no. The bow tie can have pointed ends (suits a pointy peak lapel beautifully) or flat (best with shawl lapels). The edges of the bowtie should be in line with your pupils. A ready-tied bow tie is acceptable, but a self-tie bow tie is preferable – besides, is there anything cooler than an undone bow tie at the end of a night?
– Wearing a watch to a dinner event is traditionally unacceptable. It signifies that you are watching the time, a very rude thing to do when you have been invited to a party. If you absolutely must wear a watch however, it should be as subtle as possible; this means a black leather strap and a silver casing.
– If you are wearing a coat it must be black. Double-breasted is preferred as it is more formal, though a single-breasted coat will not have you thrown out.
– A white silk dress scarf is a nice addition to your dinner suit – it gives you a chance to add individuality, as not many people will have thought of it. This being said, make sure it is white and silk – anything else is unacceptable.
– A cummerbund should only be worn if you are NOT wearing a waistcoat. It is to prevent the little white triangle of shirt and so is redundant if wearing high waisted
trousers or a waistcoat. If you are wearing one however, it should only ever be black silk.
Sounds like a lot of rules doesn’t it? To simplify; the fit must be perfect, details should be minimal and all of it should be of the best quality that you can muster. If faced with a “do I/don’t I” question, ask yourself – what would Bond do?
Winter can be a testing season - not least as there can often be ice to scrape off the car, train cancellations due to brutal weather, and much greater difficulty in keeping warm. However, for this time of year, finding attire that keeps the cold at bay while still looking smart does not necessarily have to be arduous.
Here are three particular style elements that can prove especially effective during those colder months and, here at Fielding & Nicholson, we can put into clothing for you.
Besides being a good sales tactic(!) there is a very good reason for buying an extra pair of trousers when you purchase your bespoke suit.
Want to look your best this winter? Then read on to discover our top tips for men’s wear style this autumn/winter season. It’s all about the fabric and the cut, so it’s time to get your wardrobe in order.
Want to step out in style? Then step into our new showroom in Shoreditch. We’re pleased to announce that our new showroom has opened for business.
If you’ve been disappointed with the cut, fit or quality of the suits you’ve purchased in the past, then make your way to Fielding and Nicholson. Step through our doors, and you’ll find a range of handmade off the peg suits, a fitting room, our cutting table and a plethora of fabrics from which to choose a custom made suit. Our skilled tailoring team will also be on hand to assist you.
Ever wondered what the difference is between a tuxedo and a suit – then read on to find out.Satin accents
The choice and use of fabric is a key factor in distinguishing between a tuxedo and a suit. Satin is traditionally employed on tuxedos to provide accents throughout. A satin matching your tuxedo would be used to face or trim the lapels, to cover the buttons, trim the pockets and to make a single stripe down the outside of each leg.
Satin, on the other hand, isn’t seen on a suit. The fabric would be the same throughout, with even the buttons covered to match or alternatively, a classic horn or tortoise shell style instead. The cut, cloth, and style of a suit can vary far more than that of a tuxedo can.
Tuxedos are worn with formal white shirts that have either a wing collar or a turndown collar –though please note debretts disapprove of the former. Tuxedo shirts traditionally have a pleated front too. Suits can be worn with a wider variety of shirts, in either a patterned or a plain fabric.
The cut of your trousers
When it comes to the trousers of your tuxedo, not only will you find satin trims running down the outer side of your legs, but they’ll often have a tapered cut too. You may not find belt loops on the waist – so buy some braces if you need them (though a properly tailored trouser shouldn’t require them).
I t’s all about the accessories
Accessories also mark a distinction between the tuxedo and the suit. Wear a tuxedo, and you’ll be dressed more formally, with cufflinks, button studs, a waistcoat or a cummerbund and perhaps a bowtie too. You might also have a white silk handkerchief peeping from your top left pocket. Wear a suit on the other hand, and you’ll wear a long tie, either with or without a waistcoat.
Shoes at the ready
A high shine patent black dress shoe is the traditional footwear for a tuxedo, whilst with your suit, you have a greater range of options – a traditional oxford perhaps, though you might get away with a more casual loafer or slip-on style. You’ll have a broader range of colours to choose from too, black, brown or tan and more besides – but remember, the darker the shoe, the more formal it is considered.
Where do you wear them? Well, the tuxedo is worn for more formal, usually evening events, such as a black tie wedding, a gala or an awards ceremony, whilst a dark suit will take you pretty much anywhere, from date to board meeting.
Rules it has been said, are made to be broken , the points above explain the key distinctions between the suit and the tuxedo – but more and more now you find the distinctions blurred, tuxedos made with very little satin or worn with a long tie, for instance.
Just in case you were wondering, a tuxedo might also be called a dinner jacket or black tie , whilst white tie is a different thing altogether and much more formal to boot.
London is the traditional capital of menswear . To find the right suit for your special occasion, make an appointment to have a bespoke suit cut specifically for you .
If you’re looking for a style icon to emulate in 2017, read on to discover our pick of the pack and a few hints and tips on their sartorial style.1.Dev Patel
Dev Patel has graduated to style icon following his recent appearances on the red carpet, from the white dinner jacket he donned for the Oscars to the dark blue tuxedo he wore at the Baftas. These days he can be seen in a slim fitting suit, crisp white shirt and a classic pair of well-polished oxfords. Off-duty, he’ll relax in looser, more casual attire, but whichever way he’s dressed, he’ll top it off with his natural, tousled hair. He might not have won his best supporting actor award – but he’s a style icon in our book. What’s not to love about a man who takes his mum along to the Oscars?
2.Prince Michael of Kent
The most dapper member of the Royal Family, known for his signature cotton monaco hat. He’s seen about town wearing a perfectly tailored double-breasted wool blazer, teamed with a high collared shirt and a tie worn in a full Windsor knot – a combination that works brilliantly for him. He’s not afraid of bold pattern and can be seen mixing stripes, spots, and checks to great effect. That’s before we get to the beard, a beard that has a hint of a tsar about it. Prince Michael of Kent our style icon.
Stylish, multi-talented and modest to boot – what’s not to like about Eddie Redmayne. Oscar winner, Burberry model, he's wowed us on screen and off. He loves a suit, whether he's dressed to the nines in a tuxedo for the Oscars or rocking a pinstripe suit with a hint of vintage in its styling. He's comfortable in a suit out and about on the town, as he is at a gala. Cleverly matching a smart jacket and waistcoat with an open collar and worn chinos or flinging on a dapper scarf to muffle him from the cold. He regularly cuts a dash in blue and sometimes adds a hint of claret or green too. He's not afraid of texture either, often seen sporting velvet. Eddie Redmayne - style icon.
Idris knows the value of clothes cut from a good quality fabric and tailored to fit him impeccably. A statement coat, worn with monochrome separates, is a key element of his signature style, often adding an eye-catching splash of mustard or kingfisher blue to his outfit. He’s not afraid of pattern either, sporting a houndstooth check coat or a polka dot tie to liven up his outfits. Cutting a dash about town, Idris is a style icon from which to take note.
Designer, fashion director, buyer and style icon - Nick Wooster leads the pack when it comes to men's fashion. He's worked for some of the leading lights in the fashion and retail world. He can often be seen sporting a smart jacket and a bespoke shirt with sleeves tailored to show off his tattoos. He’s not afraid to throw in a bold pattern here and there either. Sunglasses, plus his distinctive moustache and beard, top off his personal style code. Classic style with a twist personified.
You might have seen Tom Hardy looking a little scary recently in ‘Taboo,' but clock him in a three-piece suit, and there’s something of the dapper Edwardian gentleman about him. Tom favours a dark suit, of the finest quality fabric and he’s not afraid to throw in texture and pattern too – in fact, the latter is an integral part of his style - championing the windowpane suit. He’ll top off his three-piece with keynote accessories such as a tie pin or watch fob. We’ve all seen him looking a little more casual in cargo trousers and a text strewn t-shirt too. However, whether he’s dressing up or down, attention to detail is the defining ingredient of Tom’s style which raises his sartorial efforts above the pack. Tom Hardy - fashion chameleon, we salute you.
There you have it, our style icons for 2017 and a few hints and tips on recreating their personal style. We hope you’ve found it helpful.