It’s not every day we get invited to a gala, with palace steps to climb, waltzes to dance and drinks to be shared among royal company. So let’s get it right and start by studying the invitation.
There’s a good chance you’ll see the words “black tie”. In other words, a tuxedo. A jacket with one or two buttons but no more, satin lapels, peak or shawl collars. A white shirt with bib front and wing collar. Bow tie. Trousers trimmed with satin. Silk socks. Patent shoes. All of these are non-negociable. Only the waistcoat, worn under the jacket, is optional. The whole lot in black, of course. Unless you dare to try a navy blue tuxedo. Afterall lady luck favours the brave…
If the invitation states “white tie”, then you’re in trouble: the evening you’ve been invited to requires more than just a tuxedo. You must wear a tailcoat, your bow tie must be white, and you might even be expected to wear a top hat… But hey look on the bright side, you must be someone important.
Getting it right in high society is actually a lot easier than we’ve been led to believe.
It’s the evening, people are there to drink champagne, nibble on canapés and generally have a good time. So take advantage of that!
Leave your day suit at home and throw on that coloured jacket you really like but don’t dare wear to work. Wear it with some mismatching - darker - trousers, a pair of shoes in suede, or even canvas, hell why not.
Then undo an extra button on your shirt (just one, no more!) and enjoy the evening. Nothing, no work, social or family obligations have forced you to be there, and that’s why it’s good.
If this is a first date, or early days, don’t put yourself in danger. Don’t wear new clothes that you’re not yet used to.
Opt instead for pieces you feel good, and handsome in. Your outfit won’t be the same if you have a rendezvous in a smart restaurant or an edgy bar, but the key point remains: you have to feel confident. And make a proper break from your working day. No suit, no tie. You don’t go on a date like you’re negotiating a deal. Show yourself as you are in down time. If the weather is good, jeans can work. But in winter corduroy trousers are perfectly reasonable. Chinos in summer are also appropriate.
A shirt is always preferable over a polo shirt or a t-shirt, it’s more flattering. But if you feel better looking in a polo shirt or t-shirt, then why not? In every case don’t forget your jacket, or your sweater, those underarms are good at betraying any genuine stress…
And another thing, remember your best smile, your sense of humour and good manners. They’re so much nicer than a bunch of flowers.