Tab Guide to etiquette: Lounge suits and dinner jackets
How to make it seem like your valet knows how to dress you.
Evening wear, both informal and semi-formal, are becoming worn less often, and more frequently becoming the victims of sartorial crimes.
Not all Cantabs can afford the same levels of outfitting. As a result, here is an article that can help you work with what you’ve got to make you look as good as possible. Just remember that what you wear is the result of years of history, and elegance culminating to make you look as good as possible. Don’t do it a disservice by wearing it poorly.
DO learn which buttons do to do up on your suit coat. Two button suit – just the top one. Three button suit – sometimes the top, always the middle, never the lowest. The basic rule for buttons, and most sexual situations, is “never the bottom”.
DO learn how to tie a tie properly. Good knots include the four-in-hand, and a half Windsor. Your tie should be dimpled, finishing at the waist, and pulled tight. If you can’t be bothered to learn how to tie a tie, feel free to learn how to tie a hangman’s noose instead.
DON’T wear button-down collars with a suit. Button-down collars were invented for polo, so unless you’re playing, feel free to chukka them away (that’s a polo pun for anyone whose education was free).
DON’T leave your collar unbuttoned and open. It should reflect what the Daily Mail thinks Cambridge is to students of lower socio-economic backgrounds; closed.
DON’T wear short sleeved shirts with a suit. Remember, it’s all about length.
DO polish your shoes. If you can’t get a nice finish on your shoe, put it between your legs, spit on it, and rub really hard.
DON’T match your pocket square to your tie. It should complement your tie, but never match it; if in doubt, wear a plain white one. Definitely do not match either to your partner’s outfit. You’re an adult, and shouldn’t be reduced to an accessory for someone else’s outfit.
DO undo the stitching on your suit. This means removing the sleeve label, and undoing the vent, and pocket stitching. It’s exam term, and I have nothing witty to say here, but you’ll look like a prick if you don’t.
DO match your belt to your shoes. If your shoes are black, wear a black belt, or ideally a pair of braces. The same goes for brown shoes and belts. Don’t bother voicing your opinion if you disagree, just belt up.
DO tie your own bow tie. It’s genuinely not that hard. In fact (funnily enough) it’s exactly like tying a bow, it’s just shaped differently. If you don’t know how to tie a bow because your shoes use velcro then take your arse back to Primark.
DON’T wear a wing collar. It seems many people these days were not educated properly on how to wear evening dress, but don’t try and “wing it”. Wear a turndown collar instead.
DON’T be a ponce with your pocket square – a traditional English plume will do. If the kind of estate you grew up in was more council than country, then by all means go for the chavvy footballer’s straight edge look.
DO wear a waistcoat or cummerbund. You should apply the attitude Josef Fritzel had to his family, to your waistband; keep it hidden.
DON’T wear a black necktie instead of a bowtie. The innovative Americans have once again “graced” us with the “option” of wearing a black necktie with evening dress. Don’t be confused, it’s not actually an option.
DON’T try and reinvent the wheel by adding in coloured items. The dress code is called black tie for a reason. The black and white contrast is to leave a blank canvas which highlights your wit and personality. If you have no charm, and are simply a chimp in a suit, then by all means entertain yourself by wearing that red bowtie that really shows how individual and special you are.
DON’T wear a timepiece. By carrying a watch of some sort you are indicating to the company around you that you are waiting until the night ends, and I’m sure they will be counting the minutes until you leave.
DON’T take off your dinner jacket unless the ranking man (guest of honour, royalty etc) noticeably removes his. If you do take off your jacket anyway, then you’re an utter ranker.
DO wear the correct socks. They should be long and black, like the childhood my mother gave me. Make sure they cover your calves, even when seated.
DON’T wear a white dinner jacket. I think the access officers would agree that Cambridge has enough white in it, and you adding more in with your choice of dinner jacket isn’t helping.
DON’T wear a black suit instead of a dinner jacket. It will make you look like you are going to a funeral, and for this sartorial crime, I’d be seriously hoping that it’s your own.
Hopefully this will help improve your formal photos, and May Ball memories. Enjoy your newly found attractiveness as you know how to scrub up well.