Getting a black tie look right is no easy feat. It’s a dress code mired in tradition, filled with ‘dos’, ‘don’ts’ and no shortage potential pitfalls. Thankfully, there are tailors and designers aplenty out there who know how to get the dress code right, and between these sharply cut dinner jackets and our definitive black tie style guide, you’ll be among the best dressed men in the room at your next slap-up shindig.
1. Dunhill ‘Belgravia’ midnight blue dinner suit
In many ways this is the quintessential dinner suit, cut on Dunhill’s signature ‘Belgravia’ block with a classic British silhouette. Readers of our mammoth style guide will be aware that this suit is true to tradition in its colouring – historically dinner jackets were cut in midnight blue, rather than black, given dark blue’s propensity to look richer than black in artificial light. This jacket’s shawl collar (a traditional choice for eveningwear) is cut with an elegant slim profile that elongates the wearer’s silhouette, as does the jacket’s ever so slightly longer length. Silk jetted pockets round out its restrained looks. The trousers benefit from a classic fit too, and are finished with taped side seams and side adjusters for a clean waistband. Like all Dunhill’s tailoring, it was made in a specialist Italian workshop, with superior floating canvas construction for a form-fitting silhouette.
2. Thom Sweeney green velvet smoking jacket
If you’re after something classic with a twist, this shawl collar velvet smoking jacket from Thom Sweeney fits the bill. In bottle green velvet with silk faced lapels and covered buttons, it’s sophisticated but not shouty, and like Dunhill’s DJ, it conforms. The golden rule in wearing anything like this is to keep each other element of your look simple and conventional. If you’re going to wear dark green velvet, then restrict the rest of your look to a classic white evening shirt, plain black tie and cummerbund, and classic black or midnight blue dress trousers. Start mixing other statement pieces in and it’ll all get too much.
3. Caruso cream linen dinner jacket
Getting a warm weather dinner suit right can be tricky. Thankfully, Italian tailoring house Caruso is passed master when it comes to crafting lightweight tailoring. Its workshop in Soragna cuts all its tailoring in the Milanese tradition, with softly padded shoulders, a lightly canvassed chest and flowing, half-lined silhouette. In a superfine blend of linen and cotton, that feels breezy on but resists creasing, this cream dinner jacket. There are a few other subtle touches that set it apart too, most notably the single-button cuffs and matching cream silk grosgrain lapels. Try this with a classic black grosgrain bow and lightweight black evening trousers. You could even channel your inner Brian Ferry and finish this look with a crimson cummerbund, as per his Another Time, Another Place album cover.
4. Hugo Boss charcoal velvet smoking jacket
Dark grey is a colour that’s often overlooked for formal eveningwear, but an elephant grey velvet smoking jacket is a sophisticated choice for formal events. Boss’s conforms to the expectations of a dinner suit; it’s cut with faced lapels, jetted pockets and two covered buttons for a subtle point of difference from the conventional single front button. The joy of a dark velvet like this is also in it’s versatility – you needn’t restrict this jacket to black tie use. It works just as well with a black merino rollneck and charcoal flannel trousers for a smart dinners out or cocktail parties, too.
5. J Crew ‘Ludlow’ double-breasted dinner suit
Thankfully, not all dinner suits need to cost a bomb. J Crew’s tailoring is always a sharp choice; well-made and competitively priced. This dinner suit is slim (but not too slim), and in black barathea woven by Lanificio di Tollegno, one of Italy’s oldest woollen mills. A contemporary take on a double-breasted jacket, it’s cut with what tailors call a ‘half-wrap’, rather than a full wrap front, meaning the jacket overlaps less where it fastens, resulting in a trimmer fit. Pair this with the jacket’s slim, tapered trousers and you’ve got yourself a surprisingly svelte take on the traditional ‘DB’ dinner suit.