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Formal party wear

A complete guide for the boozy season

Formal  party wear

Never let it be said that we’re not contrary sorts at ShortList. Just a few weeks ago there we were lamenting the proliferation of pointless rules in sport, and by Jove we stand by what we said too.

However, not all rules are arbitrary constructs designed to preserve the status quo at the expense of the working man – oops, sorry, thought we were at our revolutionary Tuesday night meetings for a sec.

No, some rules work. Some rules actually enhance one’s life. Take style for instance. With the winter party season fast approaching it’s prudent to bear the following dress code pointers in mind. After all, we don’t want you getting your black tie contemporary look all mixed up with your black tie traditional. Talk about a faux pas…

Cocktail Traditional

The Rules:

-Peaked lapel ‘smoking’ jacket in a statement fabric

-Formal white shirt with a cut-away collar

-Formal black gabardine trousers

-Velvet or satin bow tie and matching cummerbund

-Patent or velvet pumps

Floral print jacket with peaked lapels £2,120; white dress shirt £375; trousers £1,020; pocket square £90; black satin bow tie £120 and black satin cummerbund £250 all by TOM FORD AT HARRODS 020-7730 1234


Cocktail contemporary

Blue velvet blazer with peaked lapels £486 by TIM SOAR bstorelondon.com; shirt with bib front £34.99 by LANVIN + H&M, hm.com; pink silk pocket square£40 by JOHN LEWIS 08456-049 049


Black tie traditional

The rules:

- Shawl collar or peaked lapel SB black tuxedo suit

- Contrast fabric satin collars and side stripe for trousers

- Wing-collared and bib-fronted white shirt

- Black satin bow tie and matching cummerbund

- Presidential-fold white pocket square

- Black patent pumps or leather Oxford shoes

Black tuxedo with shawl collar £495; white dress shirt £95; black bow tie £45 all by GIEVES & HAWKES gievesandhawkes.com; white pocket square £5 by JOHN LEWIS 08456-049049; Tank Americaine LM watch in white gold on black crocodile skin strap £8,800 by CARTIER cartier.com


Black tie contemporary

Midnight blue tuxedo with black lapels (sold as separates) £114.98 by LANVIN + H&M hm.com; white shirt £45 by BANANA REPUBLIC bananarepublic.eu; black tie £9.50 by MARKS & SPENCER marksandspencer.com; Tank Americaine LM watch in white gold on black crocodile skin strap £8,800 by CARTIER cartier.com


White tie contemporary

Black mohair tuxedo with peaked lapels £885 by RICHARD JAMES richardjames.co.uk; white dress shirt £40 by JOHN LEWIS 08456-049049; white silk polka-dot ascot scarf £19.50 by MARKS & SPENCER marksandspencer.com


White tie traditional

The rules:

- Black tailcoat

- Wing-collared white shirt with studs and cuff links

- White cotton pique waistcoat

- White satin bow tie

- Black tuxedo trousers with cotton satin side-stripe

- Black patent pumps or shoes

Black tailcoat £495; trousers £225; white dress shirt £115; detachable shirt collar £7.25; white dress waistcoat £75; black enamel shirt studs £65; white satin bow tie £29.50 all by EDE & RAVENSCROFT edeandravenscroft.com


The late look

White dress shirt 40 by JOHN LEWIS, 08456-049049; black bow tie £9.50 by MARKS & SPENCER, marksandspencer.com