The uni gentleman’s guide to summer formal dress

A genuinely useful guide to cheap and cheerful peacocking for summer balls

As the summer approaches, so do hordes of poorly dressed blokes attending university formals. If you’re one of those scruffy chaps still wearing your dad’s old dinner jacket and your school shirt, please read this. I’m begging you.

Proper attire is a necessary part of any man’s life, and university is the perfect place to learn how to dress well. Whether it’s a summer ball or a trip to McDonald’s, knowing which tie to wear is essential.

This guide will help you to stand out from the crowd of low quality Primark suit jackets and clip-on bowties, sticking to a budget but still looking dapper.

Don’t pretend to be Scottish

Or even if you are Scottish, don’t wear a kilt. As funny as the “ooh, what’s under my kilt” line is (it’ll have the ladies swooning, honestly) you will look terrible, and no-one cares if you’re one-fifteenth Scots.

By wearing a kilt, you are trying to stand out and failing.


Wear a pocket square

Tuxedos can be quite boring, and rather than being one of those knobheads with a novelty bow tie, go for a colourful and interesting pocket square.

Even if you’re just popping out for a McFlurry, vivid pocket squares are a must

Throw away your dad’s dinner jacket

Seriously. You look ridiculous. Rather than slumping along in a wrinkled, boring old black DJ, hit the vintage shops or charity shops and grab yourself something special.

My silk smoking jacket was made to order in Vietnam, but you can just as easily pick up a nice velvet piece in a charity shop for a fiver


Absolutely everything about you should stand out at a summer ball, from what you’re drinking to what you’re smoking. Rather than a pint, opt for whiskey on the rocks or something suitably snobbish.

Instead of pulling a pack of baccy out of your pocket and rolling a cig, whack out an engraved cigarette case (they’re a lot cheaper than you think) filled with some posh cigarettes. It will make you look like a fucking boss.

Note the pocket watch on gold chain. Looks pricey, but it was about four quid on eBay. Admittedly the top hat was a mistake

Don’t go too far

There’s a fine line between standing out and looking like a prick. Be careful.

Maybe give the ‘Fez and matching jacket’ combo a miss

Wear the right tie

Whatever you do, don’t be one of those pricks who wear a regular necktie to a black tie event. “But it is a black tie!” FUCK. OFF.

Everyone knows all the cool kids wear a bow tie and then have it undone at the end of the night so they can look like Frank Sinatra.

Sticking out like two sore thumbs

They’re not even that hard to tie if you’ve got a decent tutorial to work from.

Alternatively, if you don’t want your neck to be restricted, go for a loose cravat. They’re cheap if you look in the right places, and they’re exceptionally comfortable.

Empty your pockets

Modern technology demands us to carry around various items that can make it look like you’re smuggling 2lb blocks of Colombia’s finest.

Having a camera, phone, and god knows what else poking out of your suit will make you look ridiculous, so minimise what you take with you.

See? Loads of extra room!

Leave the camera at home, someone else will have one. Take everything off your keys, you don’t need that club night lanyard or the miniature Neopet plushie.

Relinquishing yourself of this extra padding will make your suit look better, it’ll make you look slimmer, and it’ll eliminate the need to wear cargo pants instead of trousers.

Get the cigars in

What you’re smoking can be as much of an accessory as what you’re wearing.

When it gets to the point where everyone’s whipping out wimpy little cigarillos because they don’t know what they’re doing, you can look like an absolute master when you whack out a thick, rich cigar. The thicker the better.

What a don

They can even be fairly cheap – try to go for the thickest, cheapest one if you’re on a budget and you’ll still look awesome.

Don’t wear your sports club stash

Unless, of course, you’re attempting to show the entire event that you’re an archetypal CUNT.

This is not appropriate formal attire

Follow these tips and you’ll be getting compliments all night. Don’t just fit in, fit the bill. Make yourself the main attraction.