Beautiful locations, Michelin-starred chefs, gourmet dinners. Yes, but how to dress? Not all worldly events are the same and some good advice can be useful for you to feel elegant and at ease in every situation. Because the dress code isn’t only a female issue but is also increasingly important for men.
Black tie, elegance
What to do, then? Vincenzo Ulturale says that «golden and rigid rules about the way to dress don’t exist. Much is left to personal taste. Elegance is something innate. A man with good taste knows how to create winning combinations, even when they seem provocative. You could wear a striped shirt with a striped tie and a striped suit. If you know how to make the right combinations and have sufficient personality, you can appear elegant even with a composition that is “unorthodox”. Some rules have disappeared, because every period has its style. But good taste is something else».
How, then, not to make mistakes when an invitation arrives with an indication of the dress code? Here are some suggestions to help you get oriented.
“Black tie” is the dress code for prestigious cocktails or gala evenings. It means that a “black tie”, that is the bow tie, strictly hand-knotted, is required. The necessary outfit is a tuxedo with a white shirt.
But look carefully at the invitation: black tie isn’t always mandatory, sometimes it can be optional. The most suitable outfit for an event where black tie is optional, in alternative to a tuxedo, is a black or dark blue suit with an elegant shirt and a dark colored tie.
Casual (but not too)
The indication “business casual” is often incorrectly interpreted as “dress as you like”, with the unfortunate result of finding oneself in jeans, sneakers and a crumpled jacket among colleagues who are decidedly more elegant. A rule that is always valid is that, if there’s some doubt, it’s always better to exceed in formality. A perfect business casual outfit includes a suit or at the most a mix and match suit with pants (that aren’t jeans) that are black, gray or perhaps brown, with a jacket, elegant shirt, better if a single color, and a suitable tie. In winter, the shirt can be replaced with a turtleneck and style enhanced with a pocket square tucked in the breast pocket of the jacket.
“Smart casual” is easier. Fewer formalities and more elastic boundaries allow you to dress in a more relaxed manner (which certainly doesn’t mean inelegant). In a certain sense, this is the most slippery ground: in the absence of rules, everything is left to the good taste of the person wearing the clothes.
Attention to ceremonies
And at weddings what rules need to be respected?
While it’s a given that you need to know the style imposed by the groom, normally a morning suit is allowed only if the ceremony takes place by 18 (alternatively, there’s the less formal “half morning suit”), while a tailcoat is worn only for a wedding after 18. Lastly, the tuxedo is to be worn only if specifically requested.
For an elegant happy hour, the dress code is “cocktail”: a dark suit and a tie. But there’s an exception, after five in the afternoon, the so-called After Five, a “free for all” goes into effect, and you can be more daring with mix and match suits and combinations. As long as you avoid jeans. And for an eighteenth birthday? To stand out, a double-breasted blue suit with a light blue or white shirt and a plain tie is advised.
An eye for detail
Details, sometimes imperceptible, are those that truly make the difference and reveal the personality of a man. The tie, for example, can provide a way to distinguish yourself, as can accessories that until just recently seemed to be destined for the attic and instead are coming back in fashion, especially among millennials, like cufflinks, caps and suspenders. Sometimes even a simple white linen pocket square peeking out of a breast pocket is enough to ennoble an outfit. Finally, it’s always a good idea to take your age into account: while it’s over time the threshold of youth and youthfulness has risen significantly, there are nonetheless clothing and accessories it would be better to forget once you’re over 40. An example? Leather pants (unless you’re Mick Jagger), hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps.