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Ask the Expert

Ask the Expert

If in doubt, ask.

Q

What is black tie dress code?

A

Don’t get confused. Tuxedo, black tie or dinner jacket are just different names for the same thing. 

Black Tie consists of a black dinner jacket aka tuxedo with matching black trousers, a white formal shirt and a black bow tie. A black formal waistcoat or a black cummerbund is optional. ‘White Tie’ is more formal and involves a black tailcoat and trousers, white shirt, white waistcoat and white bow tie.

 

Q

How do I wear a tuxedo?

A

The classic Bond look is quite simple - black here, white there – but don’t just throw it on, please. I am not the biggest fan of rules but there are some rules with a tux that you should respect and some that you can stick two fingers up to.

 

Q

Why wouldn’t I hire?

A

Just don’t. The hire-suit makers want you, your dad, your granddad and everyone else to wear the same suits so they have to make them ‘multi-fit’ – big, baggy and bulletproof. Don’t waste the opportunity to look great and win some hearts at your black tie event. Another good reason is it can cost around £70 for a hire suit and shirt. A Johnny Tuxedo suit, shirt and tie will set you back £120. Wear it twice and you’re making money.

 

Q

What is the best jacket style?

A

Single-breasted jackets are best and should have one button fastening, not two or three. Some fashion brands just don’t have a clue. And a tux should never have a notch lapel with the ‘v’ between the collar and lapel. Peak lapels and shawl collars are the only acceptable options.

You could go for a double-breasted jacket which is acceptable etiquette but only if you want to look out-dated and stand out a mile. Jacket pockets should be jetted, without flaps.

The material on the lapels should match the braiding on the trouser leg and the button fabric – normally satin. The jacket can either have a closed back with no vent or side vents to give you easier access to your trouser pockets and a nice silhouette. A centre vent is a no-no. Obviously Johnny Tuxedo jackets are perfect: single breasted with one button, satin faced lapels and buttons, jet pockets, side vents and, of course, tailored beautifully.

 

Q

What about my trousers? Should I wear a belt?

A

Never ever ever wear a belt with a tuxedo. Tuxedo trousers should not even have belt loops. Use a side adjuster buckle to adjust your trousers if they are fitted, or wear braces (black please). Your trousers should never have turn-ups or pleats either. Down the outside leg there should be a tape or ribbon in the same type of fabric as the facing on the jacket lapel.

Johnny Tuxedo trousers are flat front with metal side adjuster buckles and satin tape down the leg. Spot on.

 

Q

What kind of shirt should I wear?

A

My rule for the classic Bond look is white shirt, turn down collar and double cuffs. A wing collar is for ‘White Tie’ events. The front part (the bib) should be pleated or Marcela which is the textured fabric made up of little diamonds. If your shirt has pleats, make sure they are slim and pressed flat or you will end up looking like a throwback to the Seventies.

Johnny Tuxedo shirts have a cotton Marcella bib with a fly front which means a placket covers the buttons keeping the look nice and clean. Of course it's got a double cuff and should be worn with the signature yellow silk knots provided, or some simple elegant cufflinks - silver, black or white.

There are alternative looks to try if you feel that way out and your event and hosts can cope with a little dissent. Maybe a skinny check shirt buttoned up to the top, a bold coloured shirt or jumper as (a colour-block look) or even a vintage T with Converse or high-tops. Black shirt with long black tie can also look good but if in doubt, stay smart and go classic Bond every time.

 

Q

Do I have to wear a tie?

A

In 99% of cases yes you do and it should be a bow tie that you tie yourself. Watch our video then practice please. The tie material should match the facing of the suit - satin with satin.

If you really want to wear a pre-tied tie, then make sure it’s black. Some people like to mix things up with a colourful tie or add in velvet or spots. Please don’t, you could look like a clown.

A long slim black neck-tie breaks the rules but can create a pretty good look. If you are sporting your own version of black tie with a more casual alternative look, a skinny scarf might be the answer.

Our Johnny Tuxedo bow-ties (tied and un-tied) are 100% silk of course.

 

Q

Do I need to get some black patent shoes?

A

You might have seen shiny patent leather slip on pumps worn by celebrities on the red carpet but please don’t do it yourself. These shoes are really for ‘white tie’ events and even then you would just look soft.

Stick with patent or well-polished black lace-ups. Avoid brogues (with patterns punched in the leather). A simple well polished black-cap toe is ideal.

If you are pushing the boundaries and young enough to carry it off then you could wear a sneaker or high top but don’t say I said so.

 

Q

Do I have to think about socks?

A

Do it properly and wear black socks - not too woolly – definitely not faded. Coloured or patterned socks are at your own risk.

 

Q

What’s a pocket square?

A

It’s a small handkerchief in your jacket breast pocket, folded nicely, just peeking out. A white cotton square is ideal but you could also get away with a tiny flicker of colour here. The JT jacket has a built in pocket square in signature yellow spot for this purpose.

Somebody told me that their girlfriend insisted the pocket square should match the colour of her dress. That’s another no-no. Your suit and your integrity are your business. This is not your wedding.

 

Q

Do I need a cummerbund?

A

In a word, no.

Etiquette says that your trouser waistband should be covered. When you fasten your jacket, you don’t want a bit of shirt and waistband showing underneath jacket button. You could wear a plain black cummerbund or a waistcoat to cover this area, but they're not popular at the moment and you will look like your dad. I say keep your jacket buttoned until the evening has relaxed. By then you will have blown everyone away anyway.

 

Q

What about a coat? 

A

Ideally you should look good outside the event as well as inside. Don’t just put on your ski jacket or parka for the journey. An older man would wear a Chesterfield coat with a velvet collar but a black wool coat would be perfect. If you don’t have a suitable coat and it’s not snowing, just add a plain or semi plain (spotty?) black or white silk scarf with your suit.

 

 

A man should look as though he has chosen his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.

- Sir Hardy Amies