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How To Wear Black Tie In Summer

Posted 05.06.19  - Style

Journalist Edwina Langley discusses how to approach black tie in the summer, at events that can’t be missed.

What springs to mind when you hear the phrase ‘black tie’? A smart occasion? James Bond? Where did I leave that jacket…? Black tie is a staple of a gentleman’s wardrobe and if it isn’t part of yours, it very much should be. Yes, it’s possible to rent one if you absolutely have to, but a black tie of your own will serve you throughout your life and if tailored to your measurements, it will fit you, and you alone. It’s well worth the investment.

Black tie isn’t just a uniform. It’s party armour, on-hand for those dress codes of confounding ambiguity – ‘smart’, ‘formal’ – guaranteed to have you looking suave and sophisticated (peak Bond, if you will) in mere moments. Best of all, whilst its genius lies in simplicity, it is possible to style it up (and down) depending on the event. And what a summer of events 2019 has in store. Such black tie glitzy soirees as…


The annual opera festival at Glyndebourne in East Sussex has been thrilling opera devotees since its conception in 1934. A highly glamorous affair, founder John Christie felt it was important that visitors don formal attire because he thought it demonstrated respect for the singers and musicians.

Whilst today black tie is not compulsory, many festival goers delight in keeping the tradition alive. And in view of this – its nod to times’ past – a traditional black tie is advisable. That means, a single-breasted dinner jacket in wool barathea or superfine herringbone, with silk or satin peak lapels for a touch of elegance. Trousers should be black – always – with perhaps a silk or satin side strip to match the jacket above, paired with a white Marcella cotton dress shirt with double cuffs and a classic T&A collar (what else?).

Important style note to consider here: make sure the ensemble isn’t too tightly fitted. The picnic element of Glyndebourne requires the setting up of fiddly outdoor furniture in a garden – not all that easy if one’s trousers are rather snug.

The Grand Prix Ball

The 9th annual Grand Prix Ball takes place at London’s prestigious Hurlingham Club on 10th July this year, ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone the following weekend.

Including a live Formula 1 display, grand three-course dinner and performances from top UK artists – the likes of the Sugababes and Gipsy Kings have performed in previous years, whilst Eddie Jordan’s band ‘Eddie and the Robbers’ is believed to be making an appearance – the evening offers racing enthusiasts the chance to get up close to those feats of engineering, the F1 motors, and rub shoulders with the sporting legends who have driven them.

Whilst the dress code is black tie, there is room to manoeuvre here. A black herringbone silk bow tie or one in satin would undoubtedly earn you style points, however, attendees in previous years have been known to stray a little from the traditional black. A navy, purple or even racing green velvet design would add a pop of colour to your otherwise monochrome palette, and if ever there were a time to dig out those racing car cufflinks, well…

Garsington Opera

It’s younger than its Sussex cousin by a fair number of years, granted, but it’s no less highly anticipated. Born in 1989, the brainchild of Leonard and Rosalind Ingrams, Garsington Opera lived at Garsington Manor in Oxfordshire for 21 years before moving to Wormsley Park, Buckinghamshire, in 2011.

Today, evening dress is suggested, and for gents, this usually translates as black tie. Those wanting to diverge slightly from the classic style might opt for a smoking jacket – that is, a dinner jacket made up in rich velvet, usually in a navy, burgundy or racing green. Or else, why not dress it up further by adding a cummerbund; a pleated sash in one of those three customary colours.

Quick word of warning for the night: once the sun goes down it can get quite cold, so taking an overcoat is advisable – if not for yourself, for the forgetful guest you will (no doubt) chivalrously offer it to.

Perth Ball

Those who know their The Dashing White Sergeants from their Reel of the 51st Divisions might want to befriend a patron of the Perth Ball so they can bag themselves a coveted ticket to this year’s late summer dance in September.

Whilst white tie or customary Highland evening dress (i.e. a kilt) are order of the evening, those who own neither can attend in black tie. As this is a night for dancing, footwear is of utmost importance here. Buckled brogues are traditional, yet black evening footwear – those patent leather Oxford shoes – could also fit the bill. Ensure you’ve worn them in though, so your feet can keep going dance after dance. No one goes reeling to sit on the side, these dances are for reel-y getting involved…

For all your black tie needs including dress shirts, smoking jackets, accessories and more, explore our Eveningwear collection in-store or online,

Edwina Langley - Freelance Journalist and Editor

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