Creative black tie is inherently paradoxical for men because it upends what traditional black tie was all about - a set of rules of dressing after 6pm. But perhaps taking their cues from women, men are experimenting with black tie these days in a big way. Lots of long black four-in-hand ties with a black silk or wool suit. It seems this is the contemporary interpretation of a dinner jacket or tuxedo. Or a black tuxedo with a plain white shirt without a bowtie or other neckwear. Or even more casual, a daytime sportscoat with an uncollared shirt (i.e. a t-shirt).
At the recent Marie Claire 2008 Prix awards, we see all of the above - a mix of personal styles ranging from "creative" to traditional black tie for men. Below are my votes in the following categories:
- Best bowtie (self-tied, not pre-tied): Pic 1, pic 2
- Best wing collar shirt (Suggestion: the sportswatch should be replaced by a dress watch)
- Best complete black tie (Note use of just 2 shirt studs, peak lapels, pocket square and spread collar instead of a more traditional point collar)
- Runner-up complete black tie (Clean shirt placket sans studs)
- Best sleeveless evening dresses: Pic 1 (Wins best smile award too!), pic 2
- Most colorful evening dress
- Best complete women's outfits: Pic 1, pic 2, pic 3, pic 4
- Best dressed couple: Pic 1, pic 2
I think there is a real difference between the rote application of rules and traditions and the highly selective bending or extension of such rules. The former is called dressing well while the latter takes a standard of dress into the territory of personal style.
- Black Tie Guide
- Styleforum thread on black tie