As we approach the festive – or as I call it – party season, dress codes are important. Though receiving an invitation which makes very specific demands on your wardrobe can be irritating (and in some cases expensive) dress codes exist for a reason. A specific dress code will prevent guests from being embarrassed by dressing too casually for an event (you can never be too smart, after all) and impart a sense of occasion and solemnity, which would otherwise dissolve into a sea of denim jeans and white T-shirts.
Black tie, perhaps the most common party season dress code, is one that really seems to flummox people. I can never really understand why, as it’s easily the most descriptive of all dress codes. Where ‘smart casual’ doesn’t really tell you anything about what you should be wearing and ‘business casual’ is just nonsense, ‘black tie’ is self-explanatory.
To avoid any further confusion, a good black tie outfit consists of a few unmovable elements. First, a beautiful black or midnight blue tuxedo finished with satin, grosgrain or velvet lapels and blood stripe. Then, a smart white shirt with a regular cut-away collar (wingtips should only ever be worn with white tie), some high-shine patent dress shoes and a black-tie of some description.
The one thing people never really talk about is the socks you should wear with your tuxedo, which is strange as the moment you sit down they’ll be the first thing people see. For my money, a pair from London Sock Company’s Simply Sartorial collection is your safest bet. Manufactured from soft Scottish Lisle cotton, a fresh pair in Ebony Black, Rich Burgundy or British Racing Green will finish your look perfectly. Or you could be a touch more adventurous with Spot of Style in Classic Black. Just don’t forget to polish your shoes.
Style and Grooming Director for British GQ, and was previously