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Menswear 101

Imagine attending this dinner?

Just sitting around with the who’s who of the mens fashion industry, maybe even your sartorial heroes, dining on steak and lobster, smoking cigars and playing poker!

Dinner2643web

It is the ultimate gentleman’s night! In fact a guys night out should consist of only this! And it should be black tie, just like these guys did it!

Well, strictly speaking, it’s not exactly black tie, but more ‘black ties’ younger cooler cousin – creative black tie or “optional” black tie.

So, what is Black tie? or when do you wear it? Time for another Menswear 101

 

Black-Tie

_7318942So, I often get asked about dress codes, and truth be told, I’m not really up to speed with most of it myself, they’ve all changed so much since there inception that the lines have become slightly blurry, well all except white tie. What is white tie? Well, Its safe to say that if you don’t know, you don’t need to, as it is the most formal of dress codes and often kept for events like state dinners. So, really, it’s SUPER fancy!

So, black tie then? At it’s most basic, black tie is exactly that, a black bow tie, worn with a  dark suit, white shirt and black shoes at a fomal evening event, of course its not that simple, but you could probably get away with that, as have the gents in the above post.

Traditionally though ( and this dress code dates back to the 19th century) the dinner jacket – or tuxedo for our American friends – is a single breasted dark jacket made of wool with contrasting lapels, usually silk, the trousers would also have a single silk stripe running down the outer seam of the leg. The dress shirt would have a pleated front, a turndown collar (winged collars are for white tie) and french cuffs to be worn with cufflinks. The shoes, which were traditionally pumps are now generally highly polished or patent leather oxford shoes.

As with every outfit it all comes down to the details, so you would pair this up with a black bow tie in the same fabric as your lapels as well as a black cummerbund ( in warm weather ) or low cut waistcoat.

As with the dress code, tuxedos have come a long way, and much like suits you get them in all types of fits and styles. You should really only ever buy 1 or 2 Tux’s your entire life, you probably wont get much wear out of them, but when the occasion calls for a Tux, you gotta look the part.

This is why, the little collection I’ve put together goes against my normal, ‘get it cheap’ motto. This is the one time you wanna spend more than you would, it’s the only way to guarantee that when you walk into a black tie event you feel like a million bucks!

I’m a big fan of the 1 button tuxedo jacket, I think it’s just so versatile you can even wear it with a pair of skinny jeans for a rockstar look, everything else is pretty standard, a nice pair of patent leather oxford shoes, some simple classic cufflinks and a pleated tuxedo shirt with a black bow tie. I have eliminated the cummerbund though, why? you ask. Simple. it’s just f@#cking ridiculous and looks terribly outdated, I hate those things.

Tuxedo by Hugo Boss

Shirt by David Donahue

Bow tie by David Donahue

Cufflinks by David Donahue

Shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo

Okay. Stay fancy. VERY fancy!

Derby shoeThere’s a reason this has taken so long.

Explaining the intricacies of mens footwear is a tricky situation as it often comes down to the smallest detail on a strange part of the shoe.

I had to start somewhere so I’ve started with one of the more difficult ones, the Derby. Identifying a derby shoe, all comes down to the eyelet tabs. The derby has what is called open lacing, which is to say that you can see a gap between the laces (in front of the tongue of the shoe), caused by the eyelet tabs being placed apart from one another.

The one further detail that makes a shoe a derby and not a bulcher (the two are often confused) is that the eyelet tab is attached to the vamp of the shoe as a separate piece of leather. What’s the vamp you ask? Simply explained its the piece of shoe that warps around your foot from before the toes to your ankle or heel.

I’ve indicated the explanations above on on this pair of derby’s from Zara below.

Derby-shoe2 Derby-shoe3Once again guys, I’m no shoemaker or fashion history expert, but I do research the death out of my posts before I wright them. If someone out there has a better explanation or finds fault with the description, drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to re look it.

Okay. Stay fancy.

Oxfor ShirtsI love my oxford shirts.

But I only found out quite recently exactly what makes an oxford shirt, an oxford shirt.

First and foremost an oxford shirt is a dress shirt, which is to say that they have buttons all the way down the front and feature collars and historically sleeve cuffs – though now days they are available with short sleeves.

They look a little something like  this on from ASOS

Oxfor Shirts3But this is what most people believe defines an oxford shirt. It’s not.

An oxford shirt is defined by the cloth from which it is made, oxford cloth (no surprises there). Originating from Oxford (surprise surprise) in England the original pattern was called The Royal Oxford and made using pure cotton only. The  weave of the fabric resembles a basket pattern giving is a slightly elevated soft feel and making it very durable.

Oxfor Shirts2Despite it’s strict beginnings, oxford shirts now come in a variety of colours and prints as well as different styles, it’s the evolution of fashion I guess.

Although they never really go out of fashion they are currently quite fashionable and lend themselves perfectly to a preppy look.

Okay. Stay Fancy.

So, Ive decided to add a new section to the blog.

Menswear 101.

This is a back to basics extension of Dressiquette and Know your patterns posts I’ve been doing for a while now and it goes hand in hand with my motto of “a well informed man, is a well dressed man“. Ok, that’s a lie I just made that up and it barely makes any sense.

The truth is, while I write posts I’m researching and learning new things about menswear that I never knew before, stuff that I find interesting and think is worth passing along. Like this, the first in the series, the mystery of…the brogue!

broguesI’m starting to realise that the Irish and Scotts have played a fundamental role in todays fashion landscape, they gave us Tartan, and apparently, they gave us the brogue as well.

It’s origin was a simple leather shoe with perforations in it to allow water to drain out (what were these people walking through??!) today the now decorative perforations (or broguing) still characterise this formal dress shoe and it’s many forms. Yep, many forms, lets start with the current mega trend, the wingtip.

brogues3Also known as the full brogue, it has decorations all along the toe cap and it’s serrated edges which extend down the shoe into a wing shape. From the top, the W shape looks like the extended wings of a bird, cool uh? A shoe with the same wingtip-style toecap but no perforations is known as an “austerity brogue”, while a plain toe with wing-tip perforations is called a “blind brogue”.

brogues2The above shoe is called a longwing brogue, and its distinguishing feature is the extended wing tip that reaches around the shoe and meets in the back.

brogues4Meet the semi-brogue or half-brogue, its distinguished by its rounded toe cap that is perforated both along its jagged edge and the centre of the toe cap

brogues5Lastly we have the quarter brogue, unlike the above semi brogue, it only has decorations on the jagged edge of the toe cap.

That’s it really, thats the full brogue story as far as I know it, use this information wisely.

All the above shoes are from Zara.

Okay. Stay Fancy.

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