[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]lurring dress codes has led to greater flexibility in doing black tie. But because rules should be broken only after they have been mastered, here is a refresher on the essentials of this traditional dress code.


A key feature that sets a tuxedo jacket apart from its workhorse brethren is the dressy material of its lapels – usually satin or silk. Lapels can be – in ascending order of formality – notched, peaked or shawl style.


To some traditionalists, what we are going to say might sound sacrilegious, but here it is: While it’s great if you have mastered putting on a traditional bow tie, there is nothing wrong with wearing a pre-tied one. One has better things to do than trying to wrestle a strip of irregularly shaped silk into submission.

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From seams to buttons, the working elements of a black-tie ensemble are often concealed for maximum sleekness. Smooth any lumps and bumps – whether they are a result of fabric or your flesh – with a cummerbund, worn at the waist and with the pleats facing upwards.


Sleek and shiny to match the other dressy accents on a formal suit, lace-up shoes in black patent leather is the traditionalists’ choice. That, or lace-up shoes in a highly polished smooth leather – or even, for those with continental swagger, velvet smoking slippers.

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