Small Details, Big Differences | How to Look Great in Black Tie | Men's Style Advice

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With Christmas and New Year celebrations comes the black tie invitations. Corporate events or fancy friends, this is the time of year when you dust down your tuxedo. This should be seen as the opportunity to look your best and with an unlimited budget, there are some beautiful products available. If I had a spare £15k, I would invest in a diamond and pearl “dress set” from Deakin & Francis to accessorise my bespoke dress shirt. But there are a few more economical tips that can make you stand out for all the right reasons that will not break the bank.

  1. Wear a black tie. There is a clue in the title. This means a black bow tie and not a long tie. It must be a real bow tie that you tie yourself.

  2. Can’t tie a bow tie? Learn. It is a cool life skill. There are plenty of online tutorials.

3. Still can’t tie a bow tie! Purchase a real one one that can be unclipped at the back and ask the nice person in the shop to tie it for you. If they do not know, you are shopping in the wrong places.

4. Avoid most wing collar shirts. Opt for a turndown “normal” collar.

5. If your evening shirt was supplied with studs, do not wear them. They look cheap and cost pennies. You can buy better studs for not a lot of money that will improve your look.

6. Your studs should match your cufflinks. Perfectly.

7. Your wristwatch should complement your cufflinks. It should be slim with a black leather strap. James Bond can wear a sports watch with black tie. You can’t. If you do not have a suitable watch, do not wear one. You can find out the time from your mobile phone anyway.

8. You do not need to wear dress studs with your shirt. Some pedants even believe that it is incorrect to stud shirts for black tie.

9. Cummerbunds are great on the slim but are ugly on anyone with a belly. Be honest with yourself. Remember that a cummerbund should sit on the waist and is not a belt. You will need to wear your trousers high on the waist to allow the cummerbund to sit properly.

10. Wear braces. They will hold up your trousers at the correct height and keep everything in place.

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11. If you own a dinner suit, make sure it is well pressed and in good repair. It is worth having your evening shirt professionally laundered between wears so that it is always in pristine condition.

12. Make sure you show plenty of shirt cuff, a little more than you would normally.

13. Be wary of anything novelty and avoid fancy waistcoats. And avoid anyone wearing a fancy waistcoat at a black tie event!

14. You can wear a little colour with your pocket handkerchief. Dark reds and purples always look elegant. But a simple white cotton or linen simply folded is always correct.

15. Wearing a flower in your lapel is supremely elegant and a cost effective and correct way of standing out. It should be a simple white or red bloom and no one will ask if you are getting married.

16. Wear plain long socks and make sure your shoes are immaculately polished.

17. Pay special attention to your grooming. Ask your barber how you could style your hair differently for a formal event. The “slicked back” look is very elegant and conjures up images of the 1930s but is not achieved by over-applying cheap hair gel. Your facial hair and fingernails should be recently trimmed.

18. Do not wear a white silk scarf at the event. If you happen to have an evening scarf, check it in with your coat.

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Behind The Scenes of the Burton ‘You’re Invited to the Party’ Christmas Campaign

It is not everyday you get to work with Burton Menswear, so when I got the opportunity I jumped at it and boy am I glad I did because what a day it was! Burton wanted to create a fun, engaging and of course dapper, sartorial and fashionable PR, social and digital campaign focusing around their Christmas partywear collection. Five well dressed gents needed and that's where we came in...

...Calum Best - Burton's incredible brand ambassador, Tim Visser - a Rugby Union star and face of the Burton 'Big & Tall' range, Tom London - the mind blowing magician, Craig Hammond - aka That Dapper Chap and myself Carl Thompson as the menswear bloggers and influencers. They were such a great bunch of guys.

Each of us represented a different look styled by Burton. With all items available in-store from next week, it's perfect timing for you to decide which look you prefer for this years party season.

Once smartened up with our head-to-toe 'Burtonwear' we had quite a hectic schedule to keep (studio shoot, street style shoot & filming for the video). Full steam ahead with a mouthful of mini croissants, coffee and some warmup magic by Tom London - oh and by the way he definitely saved his best, totally mind-blowing, piece of magic until last - but you'll have to wait until the video is released next week (Thursday 10th November) to find out what that was!!

The shoot location was at the historic Scotch of St James, which is steeped in musical charisma and have honoured the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who into their private members club. 

We were in the extra steady hands with filmmaker Steve Neaves, who worked his CGI and cinema-graph magic to create some really exciting effects. As well as the creative eye of photographer Zoe McConnell. So no pressure then!

Here are the street style photos of everyones partywear looks, make sure you comment on what is you favourite look.

 

CALUM BEST

The man himself and Burton brand ambassador Calum Best was looking the part wearing a traditional navy dinner jacket with contract navy lapels.

CARL THOMPSON

I loved wearing this modern contemporary take on partywear, by layering a thin woollen roll neck jumper underneath a suit transforms this look. Pair this Burton burgundy knitwear with a classic navy suit to create this eye catching look.

TIM VISSER

Rocking a similar contemporary partywear look yet this time with a slightly different tone of navy and with a tan hue roll neck combination.

CRAIG HAMMOND

3 piece suit, white pin collar shirt, this look is as dapper as it comes, clean crisp lines with the emphasis on small detailed touches with the collar bar and lapel pin.

TOM LONDON

I love this look, it combines ultimate dinner jacket tailoring and a causal twist with a black crew neck jumper. This look is perfect for the joker (or magician) in this case of the group, he who is the first to throw off that blazer and get on the dance floor. You don't always need a tie to look smart and Tom shows us how.

Your Christmas Party is a time for celebration of the year passed and looking forward for what the year ahead has to offer. So celebrate in style with Burton Menswear and it doesn't have to break the bank either. 

Take my look below, the suit is from Montague Burton collection and costs £190 (which is for a 3-piece including a waistcoat). The burgundy roll neck is super soft wool and a steal at £35, again from the Montague Burton collection.

I mean, look at how happy I am!!!

Thanks Burton and all the team for an incredible day, I mean it, I had such a great day with you all.

TEN PERFECT COMBINATIONS

Here is my guide on classic winter pairings that are guaranteed to look great together.

We get dressed every single day of our lives, so we have had plenty of practice when putting together style combinations but somehow still get it wrong from time to time. Experimenting is key to finding out what works and what doesn't but here are 10 tried and tested pairings.

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COLOUR MATCHING - ORANGE & NAVY - SMART FORMAL

Following on from my Casual styling of the orange and blue colour matching (read that blog), here I have showed how orange and blues can also be used in a smart formal attire.

In this outfit I have used my bold statement jumper to give a greater understanding of how orange can work so well with Navy. Although it also works with small touches of orange. So remove the jumper and you have the small details in the polka of the pocket square, the orange socks and small orange detailings on my Omega watch bezel.

The shade of blue used here in my Suit Supply suit is French Navy which works the best with orange because of its darker tone.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Suit Supply French Navy Suit  | Hawkins & Shepherd Shirt | Reiss Orange Jumper | Reiss Socks | Dolce & Gabbana Shoes | Hawkins & Shepherd Pocket Square

Photo Credit: Caroline Nicholson Location: Chatham Historic Dockyard

WEDDING STYLE ADVICE FOR GROOMS

We all know that as a groom, your involvement in wedding planning and in particular - decision making is limited to none! So this post is to help the bride and groom (together!) decide on the groom and grooms party wedding day attire. One extremely important part of the wedding is dressing yourself, so take action and look as dapper as possible.

One thing I have noticed recently with wedding styling is that more and more men are opting against tradition and moving towards a more modern tailored look. 

Still, a healthy number of grooms opt for long-tail suits with large cravat ties however a large proportion of the country are moving away from this trend. What I'm seeing more  of are themed weddings, such as vintage (think french lace wedding dresses) or 1920's charleston to name a couple, which are pushing the men to follow suit in terms of styling.

Moreover looking into the grooms party specifically, there seems to be a lot styling based on hierarchy and age. And it goes something like this:

Groom > Best men > Ushers & Family Members

You can mix up the looks based on the Shirt, Pocket Square, Tie or Socks. you should keep the suits and colour of shoes constant. During a recent wedding I helped style for, we mixed up the shirt styles as below. From left to right:

Groom - Pin Collar  Best men - Tab Collar  Ushers - Tab Collar Curve  Family - Formal Classic

At luxury shirt brand Hawkins & Shepherd they offer FREE Wedding style advice for men. You can contact them here with your questions.

If you are struggling with colour matching your wedding, here are some menswear colour styling for inspiration: