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PARTY SEASON: WHAT TO DO & HOW TO DRESS

06.12.15

The party season brings with it a whole host of conundrums, each as maddeningly confusing as the next. Bow tie or no tie? Pocket square or tie pin? Then, there's the matter of being a well-behaved guest which successfully starts way before you cross your host's threshold. From excellent etiquette to the most natty way to nail the dress code, discover the tips that should see you sail through this month's social engagements.

DRESS

Wear a bow tie. Conventional wisdom dictates that it's better to overdress than underdress. We concur. Weddings aside, the party season is one of the very few times a man can embrace getting fully dressed up. So, if you're attending a black tie ball or Christmas party, embrace the tried and true appeal of the bow tie. The good news is that there are many ways to wear the bow tie this season. Whether knitted from silk or recast in plush velvet, the current crop of designs you should be looking at are anything but boring. Take your lead from Head of Menswear Design, Alex Field, who says: "When it comes to bow ties, this season it will pay off to go for larger, fuller designs. Not only will they add a slightly dishevelled, hand-tied and personal appearance to formal outfits, they’re a much more debonair alternative to small, flat bow ties".

DO

Bring a gift. It's less common courtesy and more common decency to bring your host a gift if you're attending a house party or dinner party. And unless you're planning on bringing along a magnum of Bollinger, the obligatory bottle of proescco or wine is at best uninspired and at worst mildly insulting.

Instead show your guest that you've planned ahead and are really appreciative of their invite by offering them a token of your gratitude which you've put some brain power into choosing. Flowers are a failsafe choice (these must not be obtained at the local service station) and if you're feeling a little more generous, show them just how well you really do know them by extending a gift card for their favourite shop.

DRESS

Use your suit's button hole. You'd be hard pressed to find a blazer lapel without one, but despite this when it comes to accessorising a suit, the humble button hole is routinely ignored in favour of its neighbouring breast pocket. However, there are sartorial points to be scored by adding a little decoration to your lapel's button hole.

Dress code strictly black tie? In a sea of suits what better way to stand out than by adding a floral sprig to your tuxedo. Field continues: "It's important to invest in the finishing touches to really elevate your outfit, I always like to reference the classics. In Casablanca Humphrey Bogart immortalised his character's style with the simple addition of a carnation in the button hole of his tuxedo jacket."

For a more robust alternative that you can call on season after season, a floral pin will add similar flair to your party season tailoring.

DO

Make sure that you're perfectly groomed. The ideal outfit isn't enough to ace party season dressing if you neglect your skincare and grooming regime. Whether you're a man who prefers a clean-cut or rugged appearance, there really is no excuse for turning up to a party showing evidence of being battered by the winter's early winds. Want to go clean shaven to a social event? We recommend prepping the day before to avoid experiencing the wrong type of close shave. Invest in a badger brush and shaving cream to ensure that your facial hair is suitably softened for a blade. If you're the proud owner of thick facial hair don't assume that you can simply leave nature to run its course. Use a beard oil to soften, tame and hydrate your beard, while those sporting a moustache would do well to keep theirs in place by using wax for optimum shape and control. Neville grooming expert, Tom Harrigan, elaborates: "Regardless of how big or busy the beard, using the right products will make your facial hair feel and smell amazing."

DRESS

Invest in a velvet blazer. Make no mistake about it, party season is the only time you'll be able to credibly get away with wearing velvet. Embrace it fully. Dip a tentative foot into wearing the fabric by opting for a black velvet blazer, but the more adventurous should look to blue, deep green or even a patterned velvet weave. Thanks to the fabric's robust nature, if taken care of properly, a velvet blazer will hang in your wardrobe for years to come. How to wear your velvet blazer? Field continues: "This season men should make the effort when dressing for social occasions. If the girls are going to go the extra mile, then pulling on an old work suit and black tie combo isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s the ideal time of year to play with texture and fabrication, so consider velvet to add interest to the top half of your outfit. Pair yours with simple black suit trousers, but if you’re feeling a little braver they’ll also work well with satin striped tuxedo trousers."