Whenever an invite or job interview mentions the words 'dress code' you get that inevitable sinking feeling. Each dress code tends to have its own set of rules that are easy to nail once you know them. We're here to help you learn some of the tricks so you crack these codes with ease. Read more Men’s Style Guide features.
Black Tie Dress Code for Men
One of the most feared of all dress codes, and yet probably one of the easiest to get right. Black tie has so many rules that it doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation, so generally, you've only got a few variations to choose from and less chance to mess up.
If you're getting ready for a black tie event, the most important thing to get right is the fit of your suit. Formal attire for men can really just consist of a good suit and tie - the cufflinks, tie pins etc, are just extras, and once you know how a suit should fit your body then you can focus on them. The basic rules to follow are;
For the jacket, the seam connecting the torso to the sleeve should run across the top of your shoulder.
Your jacket sleeves should graze the joint where your thumb meets your wrist.
Your jacket should be fitted in at the waist but not create an X shape across your torso.
Your trousers should fit comfortably around your waist without the need for a belt
Your trousers should brush the tops of your shoes when you're standing.
Black Tie - Shirt
If you're going for a black tie outfit then you really need to keep your shirt as neat and fitted as possible. An Oxford or dress shirt in a pure white is the best choice, and you should avoid any colours or fancy collars, as you want a clean and classic finish.
Make sure your shirt is perfectly ironed, and if you've got the time and inclination starch your collar to keep it straight and stiff. Make sure it's long enough that you can tuck it into the waistband of your trousers, but not so long that you run the risk of it bunching up, and ensure that your sleeves reach in between your wrist bone and hand.
Black Tie - Suit and Trousers
When picking a suit for a black tie event take some advice from the name. Navy, red, tweed, pastel pink - all those suits are out, and instead, it's time to go back to the basics and grab yourself a sleek black suit instead. If you're a traditionalist then you might want to avoid a plain black suit and go for a tux instead.
The silk or satin lapels adds an extra boost of elegance to your look, and you can complete the outfit with matching black trousers, including the traditional silk lining along the side if you want.
Black Tie - Shoes
Here's where the rules really come in. Although it's technically fine to wear any kind of black formal shoe, we'd really recommend choosing a patent leather pair to keep the look sleek, elegant and traditional.
You can try out a few variations of styles, but in general it's best to stick to a pair of lace-up brogues or some monk shoes. Loafers are out, as are any kind of boat shoe, desert or chukka boot, so just keep it simple and smart.
Smart Business Attire
So we're not expecting every man to go into the office wearing a full tux, but a lot of places won't accept smart casual clothes either. You need smart outfits, but the right kind of smart outfits. As if work wasn't stressful enough.
Still, if you're tackling with men's smart dress you can help yourself out by grabbing some basic staples that you can mix and match together to create various work appropriate outfits. Here're a few things you need in your wardrobe.
White Oxford Shirts - They go with everything, are flattering to all body types and look great with pretty much every suit. Get yourself five or six so you don't end up doing a panic laundry wash on a Wednesday night.
Black, Navy and Grey Slim Fit Trousers - Flattering, smart and in two versatile colours. Perfect for winter and summer outfits.
Black, Navy and Grey Blazers - To match with your trousers when you feel like creating a uniformed look.
Formal Summer Shoes - That means some sleek leather loafers and a pair of brown oxford shoes
Formal Winter Shoes - Black brogues and some patent leather lace up shoes.
Smart Casual Dress Code
Now we get to the real pain of the dress code world, smart casual. This has been analysed, stressed over and muddled through by men for generations, and some are no closer to actually understanding what a smart but casual dress code actually is. What makes it difficult is that there aren't any set rules on what makes a smart casual outfit, and so it's hard to work out whether you've cracked it or not.
You're also dealing with the tough job of merging something smart with something casual, and that gives the impression of matching a sports jersey with a tailored pair of trousers. Men's smart casual fashion is really all about looking sharp while being comfortable, so even though we don't know exactly what smart casual is, we have a pretty good idea of how to pull it off.
There's a huge range of smart casual outfits out there, verging from slim fit T-shirts with chinos and a blazer, to oxford shirts and raw denim jeans. Like with black tie, fit is the most important thing, so even if you're dressing up a plain white T-shirt, make sure it flatters and complements your shape.
Smart Casual Outfit Ideas
Now, rather than list all of the smart casual outfits in the world, we'll just pick a few of our favourite combinations and ones that are pretty much bound to suit everyone, regardless of body type. If you're new to the smart casual look, start simple and work things out from there, adding on accessories later on if you feel the outfit is too plain.
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