The Columbia Man’s Guide to Formal Wear

With the holiday-party season in full swing, we thought it was fitting to write a post on the ins and outs of men’s formal wear.

It might seem silly to have a guide for men’s formal wear, given that dressing up has changed little, and only in subtle ways, over time for men. A black tuxedo paired with a bow tie seems like the simplest ensemble ever, right?

Well…yes and no.

Men’s formal wear is just as easy to get right as it is wrong, because when every guy looks the same, the guy who didn’t do it right stands out like a sore thumb.

So, stand out in the crowd in a good way with these guidelines from us here at Binghams:

1. Buy rather than rent.

A tuxedo or suit that was made just for you, or tailored accordingly, will always look good, even if you only wear it a few times a year. The lines will be clean and the silhouette will be sleek, neither of which you can guarantee with a rental. We firmly believe buying a tux is a worthwhile investment.

2. But…it isn’t all about tuxedos.

“Velvet jackets are very popular right now. They have that smoking jacket, vintage look that is really sophisticated and cool,” says Dave Danuser, co-owner of Binghams. For an example, Danuser references a beautiful velvet dinner jacket from Robert Talbott, shown below, on the right:

Robert Talbott velvet dinner jacket

3. It’s all about the lapels.

Well, maybe it’s not all about the lapels, but acing formal dressing is certainly all about the details. Peak lapels are classic, and look a bit more special. Visually, they broaden your shoulders and draw in your waist because of the dramatic V shape they create. If you prefer a shawl lapel—they are most common nowadays—just make sure the proportions are exact (the guys here at Binghams can help with this).

4. Proper ventilation is key.

Again, details matter here. Ideally, your jacket should not have any vents because it makes the outline of your silhouette cleaner. If, however, you’re attending a gala in the middle of hot Missouri summer, the no-vent policy may become a “guaranteed-to-overheat” policy. In this case, choose side vents. If a gust of wind blows them open, your shirt still won’t be exposed.

5. Know your collars.

When it’s black tie, always wear a shirt with a turn down collar. A wing collar is for white tie. (What’s the difference? It is generally accepted that white tie means “really formal,” and black tie means “formal.” White tie hails from the days when men wore white ties and tails.)

6. Know your way around a bow tie.

When it comes to men’s formal wear, you must know how to wear and tie a bow tie. If you don’t know how to tie this essential accessory, watch our helpful tutorial on it here.

Any questions? Binghams is always here to answer your most burning sartorial inquiries, so just stop by the store. We’d be happy to see you.

Binghams is located here.

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , .