Black tie

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2011, 12:00am


When it comes to black tie attire, nothing beats a classic black tuxedo or dinner jacket - white shirt with pleated bib front, bow tie, cummerbund and all. There have been attempts to replace it with something less formal and rigid, like a velvet blazer with jeans, or efforts to make it look modern and outre by covering it with shiny paillettes, but do these come close to lending their wearer the kind of dignity exuded by a tuxedo-clad man? During the era portrayed in shows like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs, tuxedo dressing was de rigueur for dinner, even for meals at home. Now, you'd be lucky to find a man who owns a tuxedo or wears a penguin suit outside of formal events like weddings and New Year's Eve balls. The tuxedo has fallen out of favour in these casual jeans and T-shirt times.

But with the release of Madonna's movie W.E. - the story of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor - and its fountain of classic sartorial inspirations, expect many to rediscover the appeal of the tuxedo. Dunhill's current collection is inspired by the duke, and this tuxedo jacket with its notch lapel and tailored pants (right, HK$17,995) and the tuxedo shirt (HK$2,500) with studs recall an age of formal dressing. Dunhill gives it a modern touch with a bow tie that has silver embroidery (HK$995).

Instead of patent leather shoes, mix up the look with a pair of velvet loafers. So you don't lose the formality of the tuxedo, pick ones that are slim and with some sort of monogram embroidery like this pair from Gucci (HK$4,250).

Many have forsaken the cummerbund, but why not revive it with these versions from Bottega Veneta (HK$3,380)?

In their purest form, tuxedo pants should come with satin stripes down the side, just like this pair from Dior Homme (HK$5,900), which are part of a full tuxedo suit that retails for HK$22,000. Again, look for tailored trousers and pay attention to how they sit on your waist, as these pants do not come with belt loops.

When it comes to watches, tuxedo dressing calls for a subtler timepiece, preferably one that is thin and elegant. This is not the time to wear a blinged-out watch. Ermenegildo Zegna's rose gold watch with a crocodile leather strap has all the hallmarks of a classic timepiece (HK$118,000).