Spice Up Your Formalwear with the Black Tie’s Cooler Cousins


Who the hell owns a tuxedo anymore? Lets face that fact that the world is all about being casual but there’s always that instance when you get an invitation to an event wear your Levi’s just won’t cut it so what do you do?

Your a stylish guy so you probably have a few options available but I’ll bet they’re probably boring as all hell! Your charcoal great suit is great for interviews ans business trips but who want to look like they’re in a meeting at a cocktail party? Whether your going to a wedding, dinner part or a gala, lets put our big boy britches on a add a little spice to our formal wear… ready?

Semi-Formal Soiree

Typically yo can figure out the dress code based off of the type of event your invited to like a ball for instance….. people still have those right? In the case that it doesn’t – I’ll give you a few pointers on how you can define what to wear so that your don’t wear a sport coat to a gala.

Maybe your friend Steve is throwing a cocktail party at his house to celebrate his new startup company or you were invited to an art exhibit in Soho by your friend James who claims to be an art aficionado after taking two art electives in college. These are two occasions where the attire is semi-formal which simply translates to “dude, please where a jacket!”

A standard go to in this case would be your favorite suit paired with a tie free dress shirt or a blazer/sport coat with slacks and you are right on the money. Simple enough right? Well we aren’t going for simple –  we are aiming for style excellence and the only way to do that is to focus our attention to the finer details that will play the role in elevating these looks to help you capture the room with your impeccable taste  add.

Lets take the suit and dress shirt for instance; one way you can make this look strike a cord is to add a bit of whimsy to the shirt.

Your shirt is an easy medium for adding a layer of visual depth by way of bold colors or a pattern to add a bit of surprise to an outfit made up of subtle pieces.

This shirt is a great example of a bold pattern that would warrant a closer look from your fellow party-goers and add a bit of fun to your outfit. This monkey print cotton shirt from Ted Baker called “Monkies” is an interpretation of a tropical pattern with a whimsical twist synonymous with the brand.

When you look closer- this jungle themed pattern is actually a pretty cool work of art and guess what inspired the name Monkies. That’s right, they made an animal print with actual animals – how boss is that?!!

The navy blue monkeys scattered about stand apart from the contrasting white jungle of foliage with a medium blue as the backdrop of the shirts base color.

Paired with a this blazer and a pair of navy blue pants, you’ll have a look that is both appropriate for any event semi-formal event while being an outcast in just the right way.

Formal Affair

You probably get these invitations at least twice a year. Graduation parties, formal dinners, weddings and religious ceremonies all fall under the category of formal occasions and have the same relative dress code expectations.

On a basic level, you just need to do as the song declares and be “on your suit and tie shit” to fit the bill but keep in mind that we want to surpass the bill and step your game all the way up to the top. One strategy you can use is to introduce an eye-catching shirt and tie combination using bold colors contrasts or bold pattern pairing.


Which of the six looks above stand out the most to you? My guess would be the first shirt and tie combo at the top left hand corner, the bottom center and of course the look on the far right of the bottom row.

These shirt and tie combinations jumped out at you (unless your insane) because they feature bright colors and attention grabbing patterns to draw your eye in and kick the asses of the other elegant but muted looks and you can easily do the same.

Bold Color Combo: An easy way to make a statement with the aid of color in your shirt and tie combination is to have a strong contrast in color tones between the shirt and the tie as shown in the look in the upper left-hand corner above.

You’ll notice that the tie is a saturated ink blue while the shirt is a lilac with hints of a darker purple hue in the pattern.

This looks works well for several reasons, the first being that the pale color of the shirt acts as a wing-man supporting the deeper color of the tie making it almost four dimensional.

The shirt and tie isn’t the only thing being worn in this look and attention was paid to the rest of the look as well. Grey is my favorite color choice to pair with purple and this medium grey played an important role in this look. Thanks to pre-school and Sesame Street, we know that  that grey is a combination of black and white but grey suits often have undertones of blue or red that gives these grey tones distinction.

The picture of the look in question seems to be altered to have a purple hue to it but this tint can happen without electronic editing on your suit. In that case, matching pieces in your look that are in the same color family will create a look that says these pieces wee meant to be.

Last of all, we can’t forget about that all important pocket accessory I once went on a rant about. One thing to remember is that your pocket square is his own man and should not match with the tie you are wearing.

What it should do is coordinate with the shirt and tie by being in the same color family with some form of contrast via, pattern texture. I like to pick up on the color of my shirt or tie and have one additional color in the pocket square to avoid that matchy look and add an extra point of interest.

Pattern Overlay: Pattern in an outfit is like a piece of fine art in a well decorated room. It captures your attention and enhances that outfit with minimal effort on your part.

Pair a bold pattern with an otherwise understated pieces and watch as your look elevates from simple to style studded nonchalance. Pattern is the tool that can bring your shirt and tie center stage and therefore your entire look by association.

You have two options that you need to consider before you throw down your card, are you going for a one look or are you going to master the art of pattern pairing? Lets start with the easier one first. If your a one pattern man you need to decide if your shirt is going to house the pattern or if the tie is getting the heighten design. The next step is to simply pick a pattern that you like and a shirt or tie color that compliments that piece.

Now if your feeling really ballsy –  skip past the shirt and tie and bring your attention to the big real-estate…. your suit.

Sure a killer shirt and tie combo can do a lot for your formal look but what if harnessed that same style approach in picking a suit? The only things you’ll have to consider in picking your ballsy suit is the type of event and its appropriateness, your shirt and tie paring and which of the phone numbers you’ll call back first.

Now let me explain what I mean by appropriateness. Lets say your going to a christening and your in the market for an eye catching suit, a bright red suit may be a bit too much for the occasion and cause you to look like the magic act for an after party.

A better approach would be to wear the modern take on the versatile navy blue suit that isn’t actually navy at all.

The new take on a navy blue suit is lighting up the hue to a brighter, bluer and bolder color that tips its hat to a classic navy but leaves it in the dust with a style feature that surpasses the darker tones. But you don’t have to stop there, add a strapping pattern like a glen plaid to your not so navy blue suit and you’re on your way to the the best dressed list of your favorite magazine!

Black Tie Event


In today’s world of jogger pants, sneakers and hoodies there is something quite mystical about formal events. It’s one the rare times in a mans life when it is essential for a man to pay close attention to his looks even if he isn’t a style driven guy.

Black tie attire for a man is pretty straight forward, all you need is a tuxedo, shiny black oxford shoes and the black tie of course and your done. But is that all you’ve got?

“In the evening every man looks the same. Like penguins. Women have a special dress for that event; men, the same tuxedo” (Roberto Cavalli). The uniformity of black tie for men was ceremonial and a strong pillar of the social code of society but these rules no longer apply giving us the freedom to shake things up and be a penguin no more.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing quite as sophisticated as a classic black tuxedo but when your in a room full of men mirroring the same look, you cant help but feel like your personality has been bonded by monotony. So how to you escape from this sea of black ties?

 Ever wear camouflage in a formal setting? Nope – probably not and that’s because you didn’t have this jacket to help you pull it off.

When we think of camouflage, a military motif comes to mind but this jacket offers a twist to the uniform of our armed forces. The only background this jacket could blend into is a Chinese watercolor painting.

As you can see – this jacket isn’t for the typical solid blue shirt at the office kind of guy. This jacket is for the man who pushes boundaries everyday in his wardrobe and knows how to stand out without being a spectacle.

This is the man I’m challenging you to be in this post not just in a formal setting but in your everyday life as well. That doesn’t mean you have to sack your entire wardrobe and take on the persona of James Bond.

Now that the picture has been painted, you can see that all you need to easily ramp up your formal-wear game is to add one piece that draws the eye in like a classic piece in a museum. I piece that is bold and almost daring to show that the cloth your cut from is far from plain.


Leave me a comment and let me know what you think, and if you have questions relating to this post or anything in fashion, I’m the man to answer them! If you like what you read be sure to hit the share buttons at the top of this post and share the love!


2 thoughts on “Spice Up Your Formalwear with the Black Tie’s Cooler Cousins

  1. Wow, it is interesting to hear spicing up your formal wear. However I don’t think I am the type of guy to actually be so bold in my attire, especially camouflage. I am shy you know, but given a little more incentive I might want to try this kind of thing out. I have always wondered… But what is the reason to do this, stand out? Won’t this bring me some negative attention? And where can I find this sort of clothes, assuming I would want to try?…

    1. Hey there MMace43. To answer your question question, these tips are to stand out but not to peacock so to speak. The purpose of my advise in this article is to dare you to be a bolder and mightier you.

      Fashion above all should be fun and exciting and so this post offers a challenge to every man to find his inner eccentric and let him out for a spin. Especially in formal occasions where you wont be in your everyday look but you can take this same approach in your casual wardrobe one piece at a time which you can find in many popular retailers.

      So next time your online, go ahead and get that camouflage you thought you couldn’t pull off and make it your own, you can always go back to your jean and solid t-shirt the next day.

      Thanks for sharing and if you have any more questions, you know where to find me!

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