For some reason unbeknown to me, I have received a number of invitations to ‘Black-Tie’ events, but then the difficult question to answer is ‘do I wear my native attire or stick to the ‘black tie’ theme?
The art of wearing black tie is indeed daunting and is hard to master – especially if you are not accustomed to wearing suits. A key aspect is to feel very comfortable in what you are wearing, because if you don’t then it will be difficult to pull off the Tuxedo.
We at AfricanaQ do firmly say No to wearing a ‘Regular-suit’ to a black-tie event (but do see our black suit option) And the other firm advice is not to cut corners – either by mixing your suit or just simply not dressing appropriately – it’s no good to be mistaken as the waiter.
- The Shirt:
We recommend a fine lightweight cotton for comfort (and the African heat), we also advice you to wear a soft white vest (to absorb the perspirations). A wing collar though dressy is our preference. But, conventional collar is equally acceptable.
- The Tux:
We say yes to Peaked lapel, single or double breasted. We say No to Notch lapels. whilst black wool is preferred, due to heat, we would recommend a lighter material for comfort.One to note about the tux is that it makes more sense to buy a tux than to [continue] renting one. If you do decide on buying a tux – do remember that in addition to the lapel rule ensure the jacket has one or two buttons – they will always remain classic. For the fittings, avoid anything too slim or baggy. Follow these simple rules and you will own your tux for years
- The Bow Tie
We prefer silk satin black. Do keep away from wild vivid colours (keep it conservative and simple). Though adjustable bow ties make things easier our preference is that you should tie it yourself.
- The Pocket Square:
This for us is one of the most important and essential accessory – we prefer cotton or linen (actually linen), but not silk which actually slips down into the pocket and can be a distraction.
- The Cummerbund:
This for us is a No-No. We think it’s way too old-fashioned and can feel off when it is worn. But if you insist on wearing a cummerbund – then do make it silk.
- The Shoes:
The immediate instinct is to go for the shiny tux shoes – our advice is to skip them (especially as they will pick up dust quickly) and get yourself a well polished lace-ups instead. To make them serve you for long, do wear them only with your tux.
The Black-Suit Option
Yes I know we said ‘no suits’ but if you are going to break the rules, it is better to do it [AfricanaQ] style.
The rules are quite simple: It must be a black suit (that is solid black and not pin-striped, charcoal grey, navy blue or any other colour variation. The suit must be perfectly tailored (AfricanaQ recommends bespoke) and please do not go straight from your office to a black-tie event – it will be almost impossible to pull it off.
The Dont’s: Do not wear a bow-tie with your black suit. We recommend a black tie prefarably silk [or satin], but not patterned and definitely no prints. You want people complimenting you on your suit instead of asking why you’re not wearing a tux.
And to add the classic look – do wear a french cuff shirt – that will do nicely.
We at AfricanaQ are here to assist – so we have decided to outline some pointers on how best to translate your invitation.
|What the invite says||What we recommend||The actual meaning|
|Black tie||Tuxedo (with black suit as an exception)||Tuxedo only – not black suit|
|Business casual||Polo shirt, Chinos, guinea and other traditional wear (as you see fit)||Something decent but not sneakers and definitely not jeans|
|White tie||White tie (we will do another write up on this one)||White tie only|
But as usual we still believe that African attire works across the board.