There comes a time in a person’s life where an event’s dress code forces us to dig deep into our wardrobe in search of a bow tie, a clean shirt and in often cases a cummerbund for the sake of scrubbing up and looking sharp for the ones we love. However, with an invitation often comes confusion with what to wear. In an effort to simplify things, we speak to Harrolds Made to Measure expert Alireza Shakoori to discuss all things event dressing, style nuances and meeting a dress code.
Wear a tuxedo, and with black being the operative word here. Your shirt needs to be white (not ivory or cream). Wear it with a black bow tie with the texture coordinated to the lapel of the tuxedo. If you’re going with a silk lapel, make sure you have a silk bow tie.
Shoes also need to be black in a patent leather or a black oxford. My personal favourite is Tom Ford, they are timeless footwear that finish off a black tie look and better to take them as an investment as they can appear in so many occasions. Finish this off with black socks. Long black silk socks are my ideal.
My number one tip for all black tie is to keep it simple. To make the look yours, add texture on your lapel, bow tie and shirt, but don’t go over the top.
No patterns. Keep your suit black and your shirt white. Additionally, no belts. Instead use a cummerbund to keep the core area tidy and neat. Utilise a black or white suspender if you need extra support around the waist.
My number one tip for all black tie is to keep it simple.
Wear a colour block suit. Opt for navy, black, charcoal, even a light grey if the weather is warmer. Shirts also need to be block but in a wider range from basic white, ivory, pale pink or different tones of light blue.
At a formal event, you can add your own twist to the look. Accessorise with colourful pocket squares and ties. Get creative with this. I always recommend avoiding matching tie and pocket square with same patterns. Using different types of boutonnières based on the nature of the event could be an interesting touch.
Shoes depend on the suit colour you decide to wear. If you are wearing a navy suit, dark burgundy, or super dark brown shoes are recommended. Black, grey and charcoal suits work best with a black shoe. Have fun with socks and match them with your pant colour.
Tailoring is so important when it comes to pant length. If you are tall, hem your pants to break slightly above your shoes so you can see a little bit of sock. If you are not as tall, hem your pants to sit on the shoe with no break, this will make you look taller.
This is not the time for patterned suits. Avoid pinstripe and checked suits. Opt for a block colour. This being said, we don’t want you to look like you have come straight from the office. The key to this is adding pops of colour with your accessories. I love a purple pocket square and tie with a light grey suit. Play around and see what colours work.
My final tip: if you’re attending a wedding, make sure you aren’t outshining the groom.
Cocktail is a time for you to add your own creative flare. Colour, check, stripe and print suits are absolutely allowed. If you decide to go with a patterned suit, make sure your shirt is plain. At cocktail events, you can choose between a tie or a bow tie. Make it as flamboyant and out there as you want as long as the colours match the rest of your outfit. I personally love a double-breasted suit for a cocktail event, if you choose to do this, better to wear a bowtie or a cravat and not a tie.
Have fun with a cocktail dress code. Experiment with socks, bright colours with patterns, but make sure they don’t match your pants or shoes too closely.
Try different looks and see what works. Add your own flair. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with your look.
Don’t wear a black suit. Keep it fun for cocktail events.