Midnight blue looks suave, but wing collars never do. Lee Holmes has the lowdown on looking sharp in black tie

Bow ties

To tie or not to tie your bow tie, that is the question.

Starting from scratch and looping the fabric to form a bow may look simple, but in fact requires considerable sartorial acumen. While there's no shame in selecting the pre-tied option, make sure that it doesn't look too neat – a certain amount of ruffled insouciance is attractive. Fabric wise, there's a huge amount of choice, from cotton to silk, satin to velvet and even patterned like this polka-dot version from Alexander Boyd. Although bow ties seem to be getting bigger and floppier – think Alber Elbaz at Lanvin's signature style – this is not a look that will suit everybody and must therefore be handled with care.

Dress shirts

The best advice in this instance is to avoid wing collars like the proverbial plague as they allude to last-minute shopping and – worse – a rented tuxedo. The shirt should be white and ruffle free – any colour or superfluous embellishment is more Elvis does Las Vegas than modern metropolitan man.

Tuxedo jacket and trousers

As a general rule the jacket should be single breasted. Double-breasted tuxedos may be a trend that's spot-on for now, but the single-breasted variety is a timeless classic. Black is the traditional colour but midnight blue is an inspired twist. Those on a budget might invest in this brilliant version from Burton. White tuxedos are worn in warm climates, so unless cocktails at Raffles are on the agenda they are best avoided.

When it comes to lapels, they are currently wider, evoking old-school Hollywood glamour, but for a timeless style stick to a shawl collar. Trousers should always be plain, not patterned, although a satin trim down the length of the leg is acceptable. Pleat-front trousers, however, are not. Difficult to wear at the best of times for all but the snake hipped, they should never be worn at a dinner dance. As for turn-ups? Not even if your life depended on it.


If it's your dream at this time of year to float around a dance floor like Fred Astaire, then by all means wear a patent leather lace-up with your tuxedo. However, a black calfskin version will do the job just as well. This pair from ASOS are a wise investment and when the party season is over you can always wear them with jeans.


Most dress shirts require cufflinks and it's here that sparkle or colour can be added to what is essentially a monochrome look. A timeless silver cufflink is always the safest option, however. And what of the much-maligned cummerbund? Tuxedos look more contemporary without them, but for those who insist on wearing one, the pleats should be facing upwards – which is not only the correct way, but also provides the perfect hideaway for any raffle tickets.

And finally...

Only ever wear a tuxedo when the invitation specifies that you should. Arriving at an event and being the only man present in black tie, is among the most serious of fashion faux pas. Being mistaken for the maitre d' is not what any man about town is looking for, after all.