Formal wear style guide by Tom Murphys

bow tie

The Essence of Formal Wear | A style consultantion from the TM team in association with Wilvorst

COOL CLASSICs  Classics Herbst Winter 2013

Morning Tails


Often it is the little details that make up the perfect outfit,with style and class to let your appearance be unforgettable. When men get dressed up in formal wear, be it a wedding, concert, gathering or a very special occassion they tend to dress differently. As we have stated on this blog before our company ethos is to build a hybrid style of unique formal wear.It is modern  in character but borrows upon the heritage and tradition of classical gentlemens formal wear. Unfortunately there have been attempts on the part of companies with little history or tradition in the formal wear industry to de-formalise festive dressing. They attempt strip it of its uniqueness, particularly in the case of groomswear.

With this in mind and in  order to let you be as stylish as you can, we have compiled the most important dress codes and details in formal wear.They show the current and classic outfits of formal wear clothing in general. Some of the terms associated with classical morning wear are explained as well.


Formal wear shirts and accessories



In addition to the generic Pochette or as it is more commonly known,the pocket square,more stylish subtleties are significant: For example, with tails you wear preferably not just any watch, but if available, a gold pocket watch.

For a  Smoking jacket or tuxedo wear flat silver cufflinks and a silver watch with black leather strap. Also recommended to add a touch of class to the left lapel is a white or red carnation.


“Black Tie”

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Single Breasted tuxedo




This is often a Prompt on invitations to wear tuxedos which  in French is “cravat noire” instead of “Black Tie”.However it is also a style of dress which is quite particular.

The Smoking finds its origin in the English men’s smoking salon at the end of the last century (smoke = to smoke). Essentially one is required to wear a black bow-tie although in recent times a black slim tie is just as acceptable.


Cut (Cutaway)

Abendmode für Herren - Smoking | Frack | Stresemann

Morning tails with grey stripe trousers


The Cut (also morning coat), the tails of the day is for events in the morning or for occasions up to 15 clock. With this style one wears the striped Stresemann pants, a grey vest and a white collar shirt with silver-grey tie. Also acceptable is  a shirt with wing collar and discreet gray plastron.

The crowning glory is the grey top hat which traditionally was a must for weddings (and high official receptions).In more recent times the wearing of the top hat may be discarded and is really up to individual tastes.


Dinner jacketCOOL CLASSICs Classics Herbst Winter 2013


A classic for all social occasions or for day cruises on the “Love Boat”. The “outdoor or summer version” of the tuxedos are combined with tuxedo shirt and tuxedo pants.

Tastes may vary but a white  or colored bow to match Pochette and cummerbund is the norm.


HandkerchiefCOOL CLASSICs  Classics Herbst Winter 2013


The essential accessory for a suit, the pocket square is becoming more and more common and will match the cummerbund,waistcoat  color or neck piece, often in the same pattern (except for tails)

Whether to fold a pouch or artfully insert casually, is a matter of personal taste.


Bow tiebow tie


The bow used to be for the most festive of accessories.In recent times it is not just reserved for evening suits but can be teamed with regular day and lounge suits.More and more young people are adopting the preppy look of the dicky bow with a casual suit or jacket. The classy alternative is tie or ascot.



Evening TailsEvening Tails


The King of festive occassions is timeless, manly and elegant. The call for tails is noted on the invitation with “White Tie”. A general rule of thumb is the  tailcoat is worn better after 15 clock or even after dark. To do this: black top hat, white, low-cut pique vest, white dress shirt with Pique chest. A must: white bow and black patent leather shoes.



Shirts are available in a variety of collar variations, fits and colors. The classic shark collar shirt and dress shirt are known to be the most popular with wedding outfits




The tie speaks for itself and is suitable for many different ocassions.

They can be found in many shapes and colors in the fashion business.




The cummerbund is an alternative to vest – an attractive sash in color and design of the loop.

It has been made popular worldwide by the Hindu “Kamarband”, a fashionable sash. Wrinkles show up, so they can accommodate cards or tickets. Classically the cummerbund is worn with a tuxedo.


Long jacketLong Jacket


Not just for a one-time event – the long jacket is modern, young and slightly longer than the “normal” jacket. It is suited not only to weddings – but then color-matched to the wedding dress – but is portable as a three-or four-button jacket with fashionable collar variations on many occasions.




A plastron is the festive alternative to tie and still very popular.. In order to underline its  festive character  the plastron is decorated with a beading needle and placed  exclusively with a shirt with an elegant wing collar or spread collar.

In America and Europe it is simply called a cravat.





To complete a formal wear outfit is the indispensable pocket square  matched in celebratory fashion with to the bow and the vest / color, often in the same pattern (except for coat and Cut).

In the business sector, a white handkerchief is quite common. To fold a pouch or artfully insert casually, is a matter of personal taste.


Self Tie LoopSelf tie loop


As the name suggests this type of bow is not pre-tied and unless you have an instructions manual it is difficult for a rookie to manage.





Shoes are essential to any formal wear outfit.

The Smoking jacket requires black elegant shoes – the tails black patent leather shoes (either plain or fashionably textured). Otherwise: The flatter and simpler the shoe, the better your appearance. For wedding suit ideally leather shoes are combined in brown or black tones.


Tuxedo Trousers/slacksCOOL CLASSICs  Classics Herbst Winter 2013


The Tuxedo (written on invitations with “Black Tie”) finds its origin in the English men’s smoking salon end of the last century. It is also known as a tux and is basically the same as a dinner jacket. The black, single row tuxedo with shawl collar is the right choice for social events after 8 o’clock – even in two-row and fashionable variants in new colors.


COOL CLASSICs  Classics Herbst Winter 2013

The tuxedo pants are ideally braided with a silk strip running all the way down the leg.Some of the contemporary hybrid versions discard these braids in favor of a plain finish. The dress pants is without an envelope and with pleats, usually with two Galon Strip. Modern Tuxedo pants are now common in slimline fit and without pleats however.


Stand Up Collar JacketStand Up Collar Jacket


The stand-up collar jacket offers a new twist for the festive outfit.Elton John of course has popularised this fashionable garment. High-necked nevertheless it is worn with a vest and matching ascot or ribbon.The jacket preferably has a concealed button placket and a length of 80-85 cm, ideal for the tall man.

Suitable for weddings, events and concerts.




Stockings are (like shoes) to be matched with a particular outfit.Black or grey plain socks are recommended for traditional lounge or morning  suits while the more fun outfits can be presented with coloured party socks.

Basically man should wear knee-length stockings, to avoid a view of bare legs. Silk or fine cotton stockings fit better than thick wool – the color is basically black on festive occasions! Fashionable deviations are also in the area of ​​stockings, for example: red socks to black tuxedo.





This is the fashionable alternative  alternative to cummerbund

The vest (in many parts of Europe also called Gilet) is a garment that fits perfectly with a festive suit. The vest should be combined with a plastron and pocket square, or even a classic bow tie.


COOL CLASSICs  Classics Herbst Winter 2013







Head wear for highly festive formal wear occasions in combination with a tailcoat, usually collapsible came in the first half of the 19th century in fashion.These days hats are still worn with traditional black and grey tails and some of the fancy frocks and brocades.


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