Blog

SIX WAYS TO MASTER PARTY STYLE

10.12.16

From decoding dress codes to figuring out how to stand out in a sea of black tuxedos, here are six ways to master party season style

Tuxedo Dressing

Dressing for party season is confusing. Fact. Even those men who pride themselves on being able to dress themselves reasonably well for the most part of the year are prone to deeply furrowed brows and mild to moderate perspiration when the prospect of party dressing rears its head.

Why is party season so difficult to get a grip on? It comes round every year with clockwork precision and dress codes have remained more or less the same for a century or so. Sure, there are seasonal party updates to consider, but ultimately the essence of party dressing remains intact. Just think back to the last time you attended a formal function. Chances are you saw a whole throng of men dressed in strikingly similar black suits, with bow ties ranging from boring to bad (yours should sit squarely in the middle, FYI).

The mistake most men make is having an obsessive preoccupation with dress codes. Don’t get us wrong, it really is important, and jeans are definitely a no-no irrespective of how you interpret your invitation. However, it’s the small details which you really need to hone in on.

From decoding dress codes to figuring out how to stand out in a sea of black tuxedos, here are six ways to master party season style.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE UNSPOKEN DETAILS OF BLACK TIE

Black Tie. Two words which sound straightforward in their implication, but which are in fact responsible for a sharp uptick in frenzied Google searches each November. What is black tie? Broken down most simply, it’s the combination of a black bow tie, a white dress shirt, a black dinner suit and black Oxford dress shoes. Job done.

Only, your job is only half done. What a quick Google search won’t reveal is the fact that technically wearing the correct items will do nothing to stop you looking like a sharply dressed estate agent. The key to wearing black tie well (and not looking like aforementioned estate agent) is making sure that your suit fits well and looks like it actually belongs to you. This means that rental suits are absolutely out of the question. Buy yourself a black dinner suit and get the appropriate alterations; sleek and streamlined is the goal not Bugsy Malone supporting cast member.

SWAP OUT A SHIRT AND TIE IN FAVOUR OF A ROLLNECK

Wearing an ill-fitting suit at a black tie event is one of the gravest sartorial sins come party season, though it’s a lot less conspicuous than being that one person who has completely gone over the top when everyone else is dressed more casually. No matter what anyone tells you about over dressing being preferable to under dressing, there’s something uniquely embarrassing about appearing to have tried too hard.

If you’re going to a party, gathering or workplace drinks and no dress code has been specified, a rollneck jumper is a pretty safe choice. Worn with a suit it will manage to appear smart yet relaxed at the same time. Chunky designs are too casual and will spoil the lines of your blazer, so go for a lightweight wool design instead.

GET IN TOUCH WITH VELVET

Velvet. That fabric exclusively reserved for upholstery and tasteless tracksuits gets its annual chance to redeem itself come party season, and we strongly urge you to get on board. Yes, velvet is a little showy and when worn carelessly can look closer to Hugh Hefner than one would like, but with the right amount of know-how it’s a party essential.

If you’re unsure about how to wear, a black velvet blazer should be your first option. The logic? It’s technically just a black dress blazer with a longer, softer pile. If you’re more receptive to velvet’s strokably soft credentials, opt for a more vivid shade (ink blue, emerald green, dark rose - all good options) and simply wear in place of a black blazer. Then make sure that you go monochrome with the rest of your outfit and accessories.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A PRINTED SHIRT

It’s easily forgotten by those dispensing advice on how to survive party season, that for most life isn’t one endless Gatsbian party where black tie is par for the course. More often than not December’s parties are a much less formal (though no less raucous) affair.

If your Christmas plans will involve more bar hopping than mansion hopping, you should make a printed shirt your first port of call. No, we’re not talking about a trusty checked or striped design, but actual pattern (if it’d make your boss do a double take, then you can be sure you’re in the right) territory. Ideal for wearing with jeans, chinos or formal trousers, a blazer, leather jacket or an overcoat, printed shirts can be surprisingly versatile. Again, we advise going monochrome to make sure you look interesting but aren’t a walking eyesore.

KNOW THAT WHITE CAN WORK WONDERS

White is probably a hopelessly impractical choice for a Christmas party (red wine is not your friend in any way, shape or form) but when it looks so good, who are we to tell you to shy away, taking risks can pay off.

Don't go full John Travolta though, Saturday Night Fever should never be used as a sartorial reference point unless it’s Halloween. Instead replace a black blazer and black bow tie with a white blazer and a white bow tie. The secret to nailing this look is choosing a white slim-fit shawl lapel blazer. That’s all there is to it.

BUT BLACK IS BEST WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR FEET

Yes, it’s good to experiment a little when it comes to party attire, but for those men who like hard and fast rules, a pair of black Oxford shoes and black socks make a failsafe combination which will work every time.

White socks are not good form for black tie, ever. Little else will go as far as to break the lines of your outfit. As for your shoes, simplicity is best, so avoid plumping for anything other than a meticulously polished pair of black Oxfords.