Dress to kill this season
The recent James Bond film is a timely reminder that there's nothing more stylish than a dress suit(or tuxedo to the Americans). Black tie can be extremely flattering when you get it right and the governing rules are so ingrained in menswear history that it'll never go out of style.
If you're expecting a few black tie events over the next year or so, it's a good idea to invest in your own suit, shirt and accessories rather than going to the trouble of hiring. This also gives you the confidence that you're wearing a perfect fit and quality fabrics every time.
The suit is the most important part of the black tie equation, so it's imperative you get the fit right. If you're looking for a roomy fit, opt for a classic cut. This will particularly suit those with a broad or square build.
Tailored cuts are shaped at the waist with streamlined proportions, creating a sharp silhouette but leaving room for you to move.
Slim cuts give you a closer fit around your chest, hips and waist and will suit slimmer builds.
Inevitably, your suit jacket is defined by the details, so look carefully at variations in design. The shape of the lapels can be notch, peak or shawl and your suit can be a 2-piece or can also include a debonair waistcoat.
If you're looking for the ultimate in refined attire, look for a morning suit. Morning dress is the most formal of dress codes, traditionally consisting of tailcoat, waistcoat and striped trousers. It's appropriate for weddings and the races.
But remember, plain black suits are not your only option; for example, a white dinner jacket exudes old-school Hollywood charm. The perfect complement to this is a vodka-based drink that's shaken, not stirred.
If you're going to try velvet, like this dress suit jacket in black or navy , the essential thing to remember is that the fabric should be limited to the jacket, and never extended to the trousers.
Decide what sort of look you're comfortable with before investing in a suit because every time you pull it on, it's your chance to look your best. There's nothing worse than buying a suit you're unsure of and then hate wearing it at each event.
Next up is your dress shirt. Similarly to shopping for a suit, pick your cut carefully and pay attention to the details. Look out for pleated fronts to add texture to your look and wing tip collars for a suave dose of James Bond charm.
The finishing touch is of course the bow tie. As a general rule of thumb, the fabric of your bow tie should match your lapels. So velvet with velvet and silk with silk/satin.
The purist would advise the plain black bow tie, in which we can offer you ready tied or self-tie. Don't be scared to give a self-tie a go, it really is as simple as tying your shoe laces and just requires a little practice before your event.
If you're looking to branch out a little, a black and white patterned tie is a good option as it doesn't stray too far from tradition. On the other hand, a colourfully patterned bow tie can prove a talking point. With every man in the room dressed like penguins, the bow tie is your opportunity to stake your claim as an individual.