the black tie - how to not look like a waiter

Most men will flinch upon the phrase ‘black tie attire’, mainly because they are unaware of the actual tricks of the trade when dressing up to this code. Many end up wearing a regular black jacket over a white shirt with a black bow tie, ending up not looking like a sleek, elegant man in formal wear…but more like a waiter. 

 With the ever-changing trend shifts in menswear, ‘The Black Tie’ has been the only one that survived the years of conversion, keeping to it’s persona of an evening attire that describes formal wear with taste like no other. Till today, “Black Tie Preferred” or “Black Tie Requested” are still inscribed in wedding cards and moreover, still the spark of the 007 leading characters. 

We decided not to get too complicated and cover the ‘this and that’ of the black-tie drama into one simple article that you’ll continue to remember throughout the years… ensuring that you’ll walk into the next ‘Black-Tie’ function with a touch of charisma and definitely not mimic the waiter with his tray.

Your Jacket – This is the most essential part of your nightwear – NO Three-Button suits!! Wear a One-button jacket along with a proper dress shirt or tailored evening shirt and ensure you’re clad in matching trousers and not jeans!

Your Lapels – Stick to Peaked or Shawl Lapels only! No Notched Lapels please; as these are the most common and generally used in Business suits. Peaked lapels are more formal and perfect on double-breasted jackets while Shawl lapels are usually carried very well with dinner or evening jackets. 

Your Tie – A bow-tie only, in either black or red and there are no excuses for not being able to tie them yourself. Learn from a friend, watch a video on youtube, whatever you do, remember the bow tied done by yourself is the mark of a gentleman. 

Your Cummerbund –There is no doubt about the fact that a cummerbund adds up to the entire ‘black-tie’ look; however, it may not be as popular these days so if you are not comfortable wearing it, then let it go. Braces are great, instead, and let you dance around without having to lift that falling trousers each time. 

Your Shoes – The traditional necessity to company a proper dinner suit are a pair of polished, black leather shoes, whether with lace-ups or not.  Wear a pair of silk or cashmere socks to go with it.

Your accessories – A pocket square is a small but sweet touch to your full black-tie attire, especially when matched with the tie. Ensure that your belt and cufflinks are of the same color – gold with gold or silver with silver.  Sleek hair, swept back or spiked with some wax will give you the crisp, formal look you’re targeting for. 

With this simple have-to’s, the Black-Tie syndrome will no more be as threatening – Keep it simple; Keep it traditional and even if you have to add some spark, keep it at a minimum. Walk with confidence and good posture and most importantly, do not offer the guests any drinks… (;)

The writer is the business development manager at Hariom’s Tailor & Textile. He may be contacted at