There comes a time when you get invited to a black tie event. What does black tie mean?
- Tuxedos for men
- Long gowns for women
They adhere to this more strictly in Europe. This day came for me last year when TD had to attend a very important business event in Hamburg. I was in panic. I had no clue about tuxedos and we had to buy the suit in the next day or two, to have it TAILORED to fit his height and be ready by the next week. ACK. I had really no time to go on the internet and do my usual research on tuxedos so I immediately went out to find realistic and available options.
GET INFORMATION FROM AN EXPERT
Thankfully we are in Berlin and the people who you meet at the different stores really know their products.And they are also more honest in their opinions. I really admire this about them. So my first stop was to Hugo Boss, a fabulous German designer brand.
It was my first time in their store in Friedrichstrasse. Honestly I was a bit intimidated at first by the sharply suited man who was in charge of the tuxedo section, but I told him that
- My husband needed a tuxedo urgently
- Brief description of the event
- I don’t know anything about tuxedos, so I need information on the different styles and accessories.
- I was also very clear that TD was young and that though we wanted something that could could last a lifetime, he did not want it boxy and old-fashioned.
(Before all of this, I asked him politely if he spoke any English in my basic German. This is very important here in Germany and a polite query of “Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie English?” can be the difference between a cold reply or brilliant friendly customer service)
The man was very lovely and explained to me the different styles and showed me everything my husband would need when wearing a tux. In less than 10 minutes, I knew how much a complete set would cost from Hugo Boss and the basic things I needed to know.
Though there are elements to the black tie look, you can add and subtract elements based on the size and build of the person who is wearing it and the look that they are going for.
Since a tux is worn once in a blue moon, I really wanted to find a tux that was flattering for TD and a style that would still look fresh 10 years from now. Nothing too trendy. To clarify some of the terms, this picture from after six is a useful guide.
TUXEDO JACKET. Also called a smoking jacket here in Berlin. If you aren’t too tall, then I think a slimmer lapel is more elongating. Besides I am not such a fan of the wide lapel. I love a minimal simple look so I wasn’t really looking for buttonholes, pockets and vents. We were looking for a very streamline look. The white shirt must peek out slightly from the jacket sleeves. Like below.
If it looks like below, you must pull the shirt cuffs so it peeks out of the jacket sleeve, like above.
TROUSERS. Traditionally tuxedo trousers are pleated to help it drape straight down. But TD hates the loose “blousy” fit so I was looking for a plain, minimalist front. This is a matter of taste. The important thing is the pants fit perfectly. I don’t approve of the hipster rumpled tux look
DRESS SHIRT. I ruled out the wing tip because I did not like the exposed black strap around the color and how it made the bowtie look droopy, even if it wasn’t. The pleated tuxedo shirts isn’t very slimming so unless you have a models physique, I don’t really recommend it. A plain white dress shirt with french cuffs will do. And this also cuts the cost. French cuff’s are a must. Just check out this complete guide to tuxedos.
SILK BOWTIE. They did not have these, and I was not looking for them either because I did not want to have to learn to make a bowtie. We got a beautiful ready made one from the Kooples. Nobody would know it was not tied by my husband. The fabric was thick and luxurious. It was not cheap either.
CUMMERBUND OR WAISTCOAT. You can do without this if you have trousers with trimmed waists AND if the jacket closure is in the same area as the waistband. If the trousers are low rise, and meeting of the shirt and trousers can be seen the jacket is closed then a cummerbund/waistcoat is necessary to cover the waistband.
SUSPENDERS. Belts are a no-no so usually suspenders are used so that the waistband stays in place and the pants fall as they were tailored to. With the slimmer trousers fit that TD prefers, this was not necessary.
SHOES. The standard is patent leather. We found one easily in Galeries Lafayette.
CUFFLINKS. Thank goodness TD usually wears cufflinks so we did not need to purchase this. A sewn in button is a no no for tuxes.
WHERE TO FIND IT
Shopping for tuxedos is easy because there are limited to high end shops where you can find them. Here in Berlin these are the department stores that I went to that had different brands that carried tuxedos:
Though most of the brands are the same, Hugo Boss, The Kooples, etc. each department store has different:
- Styles available
- Sizes available
- Tailors and policies For example tailors at KaDeWe refused to adjust the jacket sleeve from the shoulder at the short amount of time we had, whereas The Kooples sales person had a special relationship with the tailor in Galeries Lafayette and said that it would be possible for him to make such a difficult alteration.
- Diplomatic discounts
So it’s worth it to visit each store. I knew I had found THE ONE when I saw the basic black suit with tapered slim fit pants of The Kooples in Galeries Lafayette. It’s a super chic and cool brand.
We asked them is they gave a diplomatic discount, and though they don’t usually, they contacted their head office and were able to give us one. They also had a beautiful bowtie, and the section next to it had the patent leather shoes that we needed. It was a one stop shop!
I will try to update this post with a picture of my husband wearing the suit. He was very happy with what he got, and it was perfect for that posh event in Hamburg. He also used it during our Church Wedding in the middle of Winter and Spring in Berlin.
If you would like to geek out on tuxedos, here are some amazing guides: