Have you ever had that sinking feeling when reading the words ‘black tie’? Its when a wedding or some other bourgeois affair dictates the breaking out of the penguin suit. In a room full of James Bond wannabes your sense of style is straining at the seams and you’d rather be wearing anything – ANYTHING – other than that. A tuxedo should be the ultimate piece of apparel in every man’s wardrobe. It should ooze sophistication, elegance and charm. But it shouldn’t erase the man. Your choice of tux should be an extension of yourself. You should inhabit it like a second skin. Not like a parody of panache. There are four basic elements to tuxedo styling:
Traditional tux jackets come in various forms: single-breasted (one row of buttons, usually just a single central button); double-breasted (twin rows of buttons with greater overlap at the front); peaked lapel (giving kind of a winged look to the front); and shawl lapel (for a smoother collar). They will come with one or two vents for a wider fit and ease of movement. And they will be black. But to hell with traditional. The contemporary tux jacket takes those essentials and mixes them up with an unvented skinny fit form, positively svelte lapels and a sumptuous range of fabrics. Velvet, wool-blend, sateen, plain, floral, contrasting and metallic styles all ensure that your tux is cut from a very different cloth.
Tux trousers are typically tedious. The only rules are that they are made from the same base (black) material as the jacket, are high-waisted and simple… Not so with the modern take. Skinny fit again rules the day. High-waisted – yes. That’s your nod to the traditional and allows you to style it up with an outstanding waistcoat or cummerbund should the occasion call. But as to colour, you can match, you can contrast, or you can offset. The choice is yours.
Wing-collar, turn-down collar, plain front or 70s ruffle, the rule with shirts is to go white all the way. But rules are made to be broken. While white is a timeless choice and can lift a full range of looks, black can make a stunning alternative. It is sharp and sleek and can accentuate the shade of your suit, or bring out your complexion. But you don’t have to stick to monochrome. A shot of colour can make your suit your own. Electric blue, burgundy and soft pink are the shades for now, but any colour can be hot if you wear it well. Alternatively, if your tux is plain, underscore it with a dazzling print shirt. Or go with a foil finish to really turn heads. Whichever style you opt for, just make sure that it sits close to the skin to maintain that standout silhouette.
Waistcoats and cummerbunds are the mark of the truly formal. Their purpose is to conceal the trouser waist, but if you’ve bowed to tradition and gone for all black (nothing wrong with that), they can be your ‘in’ to expression. The waistcoat can also work without the tux jacket as a statement of cool formality.
Your accessories are the final mark of your style and shouldn’t be overlooked when planning a formal wardrobe. Shoes, cufflinks, ties, lapel pins, boutonniere and pocket squares can all be statement-makers. They will accentuate your look and can acknowledge your character, even bringing the more outdated, 007 double-breasted to life. Choosing a tux shouldn’t be painful. Striking the balance between elegance and originality, Twisted Tailor’s urban chic will see you through weddings, work dos, and formal affairs of every persuasion.