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Beyond Black Tie

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Rules are good. Without them, we’d have chaos. But every now and then, it’s fun to break them. With New Year’s Eve coming up, it’s the perfect time to shake up your tux look by breaking a few black tie rules. How do you experiment stylishly? The guide below will help you zig when everybody else zags.


Royal Tuxedo Black Shawl Tuxedo Peak Tuxedo

Twill Shirt

Hidden Placket Shirt Ribbed Tux Shirt Classic Wing Tip Brooks Brothers Cummerbund Burberry London Knitted Silk Bow Tie Hugo Boss Bow Tie Swiss Movement Watch Black Onyx Cuff Links Monk Straps Ralph Lauren Velvet Slippers Opera Pumps Black Patent Pumps

Got a special way to zig when others zag in a black tie getup? Leave a comment below.

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29 thoughts on “Beyond Black Tie”

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  2. Evan says:

    Getting married and wearing a midnight blue shawl collar tux with midnight blue grosgrain lapel.

    A few questions:
    1) confirming black grosgrain bow tie is the right move?
    2) Black grosgrain cummerbund?
    3) the bridesmaids are wearing champagne-ish-nude colored bridesmaids gowns and my dudes will be wearing black tux. Are champagne silk / satin pocket squares a bad idea? Should we stick with white?

  3. Andre says:

    Can I wear a royal blue jacket with black lapels with. Black tuxedo pants
    With white bow tie?
    Also what type shirt I want to wear the navy velvet slippers

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hell yes you can. Bravo, Andre. The type of tuxedo shirt you wear is mainly a personal style choice but, more practically, could depend on whether or not you have tuxedo studs and cufflinks. You can see our range of tuxedo shirts here to get some ideas.

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  5. Mary Spooner says:


    My son is getting ready for his prom. He will be wearing a one button blue tuxedo suit with black lapel peak.
    What colour shirt and type of tie would you suggest he wears. Also colour of the pocket square. My friend suggested he wears a red skinny tie with a red pocket square. Do you think this is a good match. I was thinking black bowtie with black and white polka dot pocket square.
    Thank you.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You know those prom pictures you see from the 70s when high school kids rocked ruffled shirts and powder blue tuxes? The reason why those guys have burned their prom pictures is that they bent the rules of black tie to the breaking point. Looking back the outfit choices look tacky and dated. Don’t let this happen to your son.

      Trust your instincts, Mary. As we showed here, you can stretch some of the more arcane rules of black tie but a red skinny tie and red pocket square would be going too far and could come off tacky. We recommend sticking with the black bow tie and white polka dot pocket square idea you had at first.

      As for shirt color, you might have noticed that we didn’t offer up any alternative colored shirts above. That’s because black tie demands a white shirt. The whole look is built around strong contrasts of black (like in the lapels and tie) and white. Break this rule and things begin to go downhill fast.

      As with everything, moderation is the key when it comes to playing with the rules of black tie.

  6. Dan says:

    Cream jacket for summer evening events, otherwise usual black tie.
    Maroon cummerbum with flat front shirt for slightly less formal evenings.
    My custom tux has grosgrain facings rather than satin facings, looks much more elegant. Does require matching tie/cummerbum.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Your style is definitely beyond the average guys black tie get up. We salute you — especially for the grograin 😉

  7. Michael says:

    I’m wearing a burgundy tux with a black shawl collar jacket, but I’m debating if I should go streamlined with all burgundy pants or should I go with black pants… HELP!!!! I got get fitted next week to get the tux made. Other details are that I’m wearing a white shirt with a bow tie…

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We think you should go with black tuxedo pants. You’ll end up having the same look as this guy, and we approve of that guy.

  8. RIki says:

    What about wearing a White Tux on a Black trousers for a Wedding?

    Any tips? Very Urgent!!!! Wedding in under three months

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Traditionally, black tie is for evening (after 6:00pm). Some choose to wear a white, or ivory, jackets for formal affairs that take place during the day. All of the options above still hold up with a white jacket.

      These days men’s wedding attire includes a few more options. That royal blue tux you see up above is a great daytime alternative to a black tuxedo.

  9. Matt says:

    My wedding is on New Year’s Eve (2014). Hate the feeling of wearing a cummerbund and dislike wearing vests…want a classic tux look though. Considered going no cummerbund and no vest but afraid there may be too much white showing. Thoughts? Also, against the ribbed shirts. I guess I am looking for a modern twist on a classic look.

    Considering shall collar, black, flat-front, french-cuff shirt, black bow tie, patent leather shoes. Open to all suggestions. Bridesmaids are wearing black…

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First, let us commend you for getting this stuff figured out now. We see too many grooms waiting until the last minute and then rushing to get things altered the day before the wedding.

      As to your conundrum, you are right to be concerned about white showing through the jacket. We’re no fans of the little white sailboat shape at the waist where your shirt shows through, so we like cummerbunds or waistcoats, but that’s just how we roll. Have you worn a cummerbund and found it uncomfortable? If so, you may just need to try a better fitting one (most are adjustable).

      As to the rest of the outfit, sounds pretty by the book (which is fine by us). If you’re looking to shake things up only slightly, try breaking rule #4 above and wearing a knit bow tie.

    2. Spencer says:

      I’m doing something that used to be done quite frequently in the 1920’s-40’s, where I’ll have a single breasted peaked lapel jacket, with a white evening waistcoat, borrowed from white tie. It’s become a standard part of my tuxedo.

      1. Black Lapel says:

        Oh man, that sounds really sharp! That’s a cool way to bend the rules.

  10. Jovan says:

    I want to add, since it wasn’t said in the article, there are benefits to wearing the Navy Tuxedo from a colour standpoint. The fabric is actually more like a midnight blue — blue that is so dark it is nearly black. Black wool fabric can actually look more like dark brown, dark green, or dark charcoal under artificial lights. Midnight blue remains darker and richer under the same conditions. Compare the Navy Tuxedo with the black ones to the right. Note how the black looks almost washed out under the studio lights compared to the depth of colour provided by the midnight blue fabric. The subtle difference in colour also looks better on men with summer complexions and hair (such as the Royal Blue Tuxedo model) while remaining perfectly traditional.

    TL;DR: Midnight blue is always the best choice for evening wear.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Astute, as always Jovan.

  11. Jovan says:

    Hm, my only major issue is saying that barrel cuffs are okay. That’s where I give pause. You have to hold the line at some point, and the requirement to wear cufflinks is one of those.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ok, but what if you’re going to a gala to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the invention of the barrel cuff? (By the way, we heard that tickets are ridiculously hard to get.)

      1. Jovan says:

        So hard to get that I’ve never even heard of this gala! It’s just that exclusive.

  12. MackMrGQ says:

    I have a black satin jacket with grosgrain lapels and silver floral brocade embroidery. I found it in a pile of material while hunting around a vintage thrift store. I have recently lost weight and decided to not have it altered (I only gave $10 for the jacket and am surviving my final semester of dental school) but love the look of it. What do you think, is it enough to zag where others zig?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That sounds like a hell of a thrift store find! Definitely in the spirit of going beyond black tie. Well played, sir.

  13. Seth says:

    The idea might be to streamline the look, but an uncovered waist can interrupt it. If you look at the model on the top right (in the peak lapel), that little triangle of white underneath the button sticks out quite a bit (even though it’s relatively small). If your jacket opens up at all under the button when you move your arms, an uncovered waist is always going to show and because it’s white on black, it will be very noticeable. I don’t think there’s anything sleek about a floating white triangle at your navel.
    This isn’t essentially a question of tradition, but of functional aesthetics.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You never know, Seth. The floating white triangle look might be the next trend. Look for it on the beach this season when guys start wearing floating white triangles above their swim trunks. 😉

  14. Steve Bickley says:

    Ordering a sequinned jacket to wear with my black tie tux..

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Send pics!

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