Christmas, is no doubt the busiest season of the year. Beach parties, music shows, end of year dinner parties, estate parties, weddings, award nights and the lot, you name the kind of party and it’s going on this season.
Spikes in activity, including business and economic, are bountiful. Whole industries like hamper gifts exist solely to serve the Christmas season. Talk about the Optimus Primal of all seasons.
The bigger your circle of friends and family directly relates to the amount of invites you’re likely to get. Of course this theory doesn’t apply in all cases. These invites come with dress codes and one of the elements of being a well-dressed man is being appropriately dressed for every occasion. The way you put your look together will send different messages to those around you.
There are occasions when a suit and tie are the only appropriate attire. Conversely, you might be regarded as overdressed in that same suit and tie when the rest of the group is casually dressed. This article provides you with general guidelines for different scenarios this festive season. I’ll focus on native, smart casual and black tie.
We’ll start with building your thought process to visualise what and how you’d like to present yourself. The table below is a guide to what to think about in regards to what image you want to portray.
|If you want to be seen as…||Think about…|
|Friendly and approachable||Colour|
|International||The style of your clothes|
|A leader||Looking sharp|
Native Dress Code
- Try not to wear natives with proper dress shoes, although I’ve observed that slick monk straps with a native that has the pants hem at the ankle works fine.
- Preferably, go for loafers or driving shoes – in some cases boat shoes.
- Depending on the formality of the event, shoes over slippers/sandals.
- Use no-show socks.
- If you’re going to accessorise with a wrist watch let it be smart and not sporty.
Smart Casual Dress Code
Consider the occasion carefully – your choice of clothes for an outdoor event will differ from those for a formal family lunch on Christmas day or an indoor event like the comedy shows that come up on Christmas day.
Things to try with smart casual:
- Try a vintage jacket with a waist coat and silk shirt.
- Combine a black jacket with a black shirt and jeans.
- A velvet jacket, pink shirt and linen trousers.
- Opt for a blazer, twill shirt and flannel trousers.
- Try a tweed jacket, polo shirt and chinos.
- Combine a sports jacket, roll neck sweater and twill trousers.
- Tempting, but try not to over accessorize.
The Black Tie Event Dress Code
The dinner jacket is the foundation of the black-tie ensemble. It’s one of those you follow to the letter if the occasion is very formal. If the event is lower key, some personalization is acceptable. If you don’t own a dinner suit, you should be able to hire one but I haven’t found any online with the little Google search I did. I could be wrong. An alternative is to wear the darkest suit that you own, with a white shirt and a dark tie.
- Black tuxedo: the original black tuxedo jacket is unvented. However, side or double vents (no single/middle) are now commonly found on them.
- White tuxedo: traditionally worn at open-air evening events or on-board cruise ships.
Your body shape will dictate the best style of jacket for you:
- Inverted triangle: Peaked lapel (either single or double-breasted)
- Rectangle: Notched lapel (single breasted)
- Rounded: Shawl collar (single breasted)
The Waistcoat (Vest) and Cummerbund
- You have the option of wearing a waistcoat (although not with a double-breasted jacket) or cummerbund.
- If you’re ‘Inverted triangle’: Waistcoat or cummerbund
- If you’re ‘Rectangle’: Waistcoat or cummerbund
- If you’re ‘Rounded’: Waistcoat only
The Dress Shirt
- Collar: A regular collar works for everyone. A wing collar is best on men with long necks – this’ll look good in a single breasted jacket with peaked lapels. The bow tie should be worn in front of the wing-collar tabs, not tucked behind them.
- Shirt front: The shirt will either be fly-fronted or allow for two or three studs (the number traditionally depends upon the wearer’s height). The front of a dress shirt is reinforced so as to allow the wearer to sit down without the shirt bulging up. The trimming, usually pleats or pique (or reinforced cotton) does not go as low as the waistband.
- Cuffs: The traditional dress shirt always has double/French cuffs.
Shirt Fly front
- If the dress code is ‘black tie’, you should wear a black bow tie that you can actually tie yourself. If the event is less formal, you can have fun by wearing a colored silk evening bow tie.
- The outside seam of dress trousers are embellished with a silk stripe. They have no turn-ups (cuffs) and are worn with braces (suspenders) or have self-adjustments. It’s not traditional to wear a belt with them, although a lot of men do these days.
- Ideally, you will have some black patent leather evening shoes, although the majority of men opt for a highly polished pair of Oxfords.
The Velvet Jacket
The velvet jacket evolved from the smoking jacket and it’s now acceptable on less formal occasions to wear a dark velvet jacket. This could be worn with one of the following combinations:
- A dinner jacket shirt
- A dress shirt with a tied or untied bow tie or with no bow tie at all.
- A silk shirt, with or without an evening tie.
Be well groomed, take a clean handkerchief to dab away perspiration while dancing and finally, wear only black socks.
The most important thing to remember is to have a good time, that’s why you went for the event/occasion in the first place. When you have your outfit for the day spot on, it’s a lot easier to relax and have a good time knowing you’re looking your best.
Please drink responsibly; you don’t have to drink it all this Christmas. We hope to see lots more Christmases. Stay fresh and have a very Merry Christmas.
Okeluem Felix Onatu trained as a men’s image consultant in London. He buys into the idea of minimalism or ‘less is more’. His style is simple and classy with a bit of originality. Felix runs a menswear line offering men’s casual and formal shirts on Qollars.com. He blogs atwww.freshsqollar.com and can be reached via Instagram on@Qollars.