You’ve probably heard it all – every man needs a good watch, good shoes, and a tuxedo. The last one is as true as the others.
Even if you only break it out once a year, it’s best you aren’t remembered as the spud who had no shame and picked up a rental for the occasion.
Black tie events are one of the few occasions guys can dress to kill and pretend they’re in the running to get cast as 007. There’s dim lighting, champagne, good food, and mediocre conversation to boot. To make the most of the occasion, we’ve covered our favourite brands that offer the complete black tie experience across the spectrum of price and style.
P Johnson & Suit Shop
Originally founded by a pair of forward-thinking wine guys from Adelaide, the P Johnson empire has steadily expanded with footholds in NYC, London, Sydney, and Melbourne. P Johnson does everything (almost) from scratch, with an enviable MTM program that combines your personal preference with relaxed, unpretentious tailoring and Italian craftsmanship. Their partner line Suit Shop which trades manufacturing from Italy to China is more affordable (but no less slick) if you’re not quite ready to take the PJ plunge yet.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Ralph’s Polo line is a preppy mainstay that quietly moonlights as a solid advocate for black tie sartorialism. Polo sticks to what it knows well, and that’s classic style: peaked satin lapels, a slim fit, and premium materials you’ll find nowhere else. A worthy step into the world of black tie investment pieces that won’t break the bank.
Hugo Boss is a dual mainstay in both corporate fashion and after-dark style. If it’s a slick investment piece that you could wear to your 21st and then your 30th, Hugo Boss is the place to go (provided you keep the kegs off in the intervening years). Boss has different lines based on affordability, so they’re not just for the corner office guys.
It’s hard to address the conventions of black tie dress without tipping our hat to the man that leads the way, and that’s Tom Ford. Ford made black tie cool again, and has reminded men that a good tuxedo is a gateway to heaps of awesome shit. Although he’s a strong advocate for the classics, Tom Ford is happy to experiment with things like velvet, giving you the chance to stand out among the sea of navy and black two-pieces (for all the good reasons).
Need a tux and you needed it yesterday? Forget your pooch, ASOS is a man’s best friend when the bank is depleted and there’s an event around the corner that you forgot about (or ignored). The ASOS cut is slim in extremis, which suits the younger (and fitter) buyer. It’s an easy purchase when you’re not quite ready to put down a couple grand on something you wear once a year.
Proudly Australian and proudly well made, M.J. Bale has made ‘Australian tailoring’ a thing again and reminded us that yes, Australian men do give a shit about looking the part. Bale has three lines – Blue Label, White Label, and a nifty MTM line – which means you’d be hard pressed to find something you can’t afford. Best of all, Bale almost exclusively uses Australian merino wool, so by purchasing an MJ tux, you’ll be supporting the heartland and Australian farmers (and looking like a total stud in the process).
Reiss have enjoyed a recent expansion and brought a full suite of competitively priced evening wear with them for the ride. With British heritage, Reiss are a no-fuss brand that sticks to the things that work. Reiss have taken a simple template – black or navy, satin lapels, and a modestly slim fit – to the next level with their most recent collection.
On Saville Row, Richard James has a bit of a reputation: depending on who you ask, he’s either made classic tailoring cool for young guys, or doesn’t respect the rules and shouldn’t have a job. We’re on board with the first interpretation. He’s not afraid to splice tradition with something new, like camouflage on a tuxedo jacket, made from premium materials in the strict Row fashion. If you’ve done the black tux and have the bones to try something new, RJ is the tailor to guide you through the next step.
Aquila’s well known for shoes and more shoes, but their recent expansion into casual and formalwear suggests they have their eyes on bigger and better things. Aquila’s tuxedo option is perfect for those last minute decisions where need to look sharp in a hurry. Pick up a set of their patent slides in the process and you’ll be laughing at the chumps who max out their credit cards to look the part.