Two Dapper Day events in a row and we aren’t tired yet! This time we get a chance to don evening wear, actually go into the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and enjoy some great music!
You know, I kinda fancied myself Frasier Crane’s life: the tailored suits (to an extent), the art shows, the evening outings to the symphony. Hell you could even argue that starting my blog to recount my experiences and help others dress echoes Frasier’s radio show! But that’s typically where the similarities lie as I’m not a socialite in any sense. I’m pretty much a normie dork in my everyday life (ya’ll know I love burgers, Star Wars, and my Smash main is Wii Brawler), but it would be nice to pretend every once in a while!
Dapper Day has been really helpful in that regard. As I’ve said before, Justin Jorgensen (the founder) has worked hard in recent years to detach his events from Disneyland and apply them to other things, most notably LACMA. Thanks to Dapper Day, there’s been a resurgence in art, community, and fashion for regular people, as I’ve always felt that LA tends to have its own closed off scene for that sort of thing. In addition to being able to go to special museum events, it also gives me an opportunity to bring the menswear scene here close together, as there is nothing comparable to the countless book launches and drinking events in New York and London.
Now most of the things that we’ve done with Dapper Day have been set in the day time (that can last until the night), and while the guys and I have been fine breaking out appropriate suiting (styled in our unique way), I would be lying if we weren’t itching for a reason to break out true evening wear. As you know, I used to go to the Cicada Club in my tuxedo to celebrate NYEE, but it never was worth it since I don’t drink very much or have any interest in swing dancing. I wanted to do a mini gathering something at the Bloke for the New Year and even tried to see if the Suit Supply Century City would do something, but those plans all fell through. It basically seemed that I wouldn’t have a chance to wear a tuxedo again. That is until Dapper Day saved the day again!
Around the time they announced the LACMA soirée, Dapper Day also released the details for another event. This time it was at the magnificent Walt Disney Concert Hall to listen to works by Benjamin Britten and Richard Strauss. This was my Frasier Crane moment: not only would I be able to get to go to the Concert Hall (we always shot outside of it) and listen to music, but it was a true evening event (it’s after 6PM) which meant true evening wear. I mean, the guys and I would probably be the only ones even remotely close to black tie, as people don’t really dress up for anything anymore, but that doesn’t matter: we dress for ourselves!
So we were extremely excited. I invited all my friends and we all bought tickets at a special Dapper Day reduced rate and we all got seats in the West Terrace. It was closer to the orchestra, though our necks hurt a bit from looking down (totally worth it). At almost the last second, Hal (our friend from the J. Crew event and reader of the blog) came up from Arizona and got himself a ticket too! It was setting up to be a fantastic evening and it definitely was.
We got there around 6PM and took our standard outfit pictures. We had some time since Michael had the tickets (as he worked nearby and we wanted to avoid the online fees) and he was just getting off work. LA Phil had set up a complementary wine booth and I got to have the teeniest taste of alcohol. Shocking I know. Then the music started.
The first two pieces were by Benjamin Britten, a relatively “modern” composer since he was active in the 20th century. Interludes from Peter Grimes, his opera, was first, which really was a treat. I should really listen to the full opera, as I’m sure these works contain reference to the motifs of the score. The second pieces was his Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, was an interesting experience. After the Interludes, the full orchestra was stripped away save for the string section, and a solo tenor and horn (hence the title). There are eight movements, each centered around a night-themed poem (by different writers) sung by the tenor and featuring a motif from the horn, backed by the strings.
Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra came after the intermission, and oh boy was it awesome. Again, I’m more of a fan of film scores (I love thematic continuity and development), but it was still enjoyable. There are technically motifs in the piece, which is a musical interpretation of Nietzsche’s novel; you may recognize the dawn theme from “Sunrise” as it was used in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hearing the massive organ with the orchestra made me wish I was there when John Williams opened the Hall in 2003 with Soundings, my favorite non-film score composition. Visiting conductor Simone Young helmed the concert and received a long standing ovation; it was my first time seeing a conductor other than the guys at the Hollywood Bowl and she was absolutely amazing.
After the concert, we had some free drinks at Coda, the small after-concert party that the Phil throws on in a little corner of the Hall. It was packed with people enjoying the free booze with a couple of photographers (including one ring-light Boomerang guy) snapping pictures of both attendees and members of the Phil (who were conveniently wearing name tags denoting their instrument). After some much needed water (at least for me, as I’m still on the tail end of a long cold), we finished off the evening at the local Ihop!
As you can expect, it was yet another fantastic evening with great art and a chance for us to wear some cool clothing.
Spencer has been itching for evening wear/black tie for a longtime. In fact, he’s probably been pining for it more than me since he missed out on the last Cicada club (his most recent one was back in 2016). For his return to evening events, Spencer brought back his 1950’s red dinner jacket, which was a bold move since we wanted to do more than just regular full tuxedos. While the lapels are a bit slim, the fit is spot on, which makes it look very contemporary and not too dated.
He opted for a marcella piqué front shirt, which we like since it contrasts nicely against the smooth satin of his lapels and matching vintage bowtie. As you know, your bow tie, lapel, and trouser stripe should always match: grosgrain with grosgrain, satin with satin. Spencer goes with gold studs for some slight shine. Also note the puff pocket square, which is typically our preference for black tie; the pointed edges are too “sprezz” and the TV fold is too ivy.
These slippers were a gift from Stubbs & Wootton, probably one of the most notable names in slippers. Spencer and I didn’t have any evening appropriate footwear until this moment, so they came at a great time (normally we go with black oxfords which are fine in a pinch, considering we don’t wear black tie more than once a year). His are the Luke Edward Hall “Gladius”, which are a bit more fun than the typical golden crest you see on most slippers.
You’ll see the full blog post about them in the future.
I haven’t worn this jacket since this cringe-as-fuck 2015 article but it needed a comeback, since I have already covered full black tie and the Casablanca look. It’s probably one of the most elegant things I own thanks to it’s gold/green trimmings, frog closure, and deep purple/brown body color. The jacket is a smoking jacket from the 1930’s (meant to be worn after getting home from work) and is completely unstructured. This, along with the fact that it’s cut close to the body, makes it look extremely contemporary and wearable today.
It really does contrast well against my wide leg (slightly flared) trousers which are the ones from my 1930’s tux. As a nod to an old Drake’s picture (taken by the talented F.E Castleberry), I’m wearing red socks as a fun pop for the ensemble. Who says you can’t have fun with evening wear?
While I do like marcella piqué, the only tuxedo shirt I have is this pleated, bib front one. The saving grace is that it’s completely soft, which is perfect for my slouchy style. It doesn’t stay pressed for long, but that’s okay!
To match my trouser stripe and vintage bow tie (both Spencer and my bow ties are from Roxy Deluxe), I wore a satin cummerbund from my choir days. It may not be as high quality as the other pieces, but again, it gets the job done! I thought the cummerbund would be nice instead of the tux waistcoat since I’m doing separates, which is more casual than the full tuxedo.
My Stubbs & Wootton slippers are the LEH pegasus. While I liked the Gladius, I wanted more of a “matching pair”. Again I didn’t want anything with a crown, crest, or crossbones because I felt they were too basic. I was drawn to the pegasi and while I initially wasn’t the biggest fan of the blue trim, it’s starting to grow on me!
I love events because not only does it mean that I get to dress up but it also means I get to take pictures of my cool well dressed friends (maybe I’m a mom?). Nguyen here was so excited when the event was announced back in December, but he didn’t own anything. In a haste, he bought a velvet dinner jacket from J. Crew, which like we say, is probably one of the best fitting/designed evening pieces you can get at a mainstream store. I believe that his pleated front shirt is also from J. Crew!
We educated him all about the rules of black tie, which he closely followed by buying satin bowtie and cummerbund to match his lapels. In keeping with his outfit from LACMA, his tuxedo trousers were actually from me, which were a wide leg, double pleated 1940’s pair. Since I got my 30’s tuxedo, I had no need for an odd pair, so I gave it to Nguyen! He got them slimmed down at the tailor and now they’re just waiting to be worn for future events, provided we make them happen.
Hal is a reader of the blog, active poster on our Facebook Group, and a new addition to the LA Menswear Squad. Living in Arizona, he was planning on visiting family in during February, so once he found out that we were going to the LA Phil, he made sure that he could make it!
He didn’t have a tuxedo ready, but that was okay, since we knew that we were probably going to be the only ones in evening wear. He wore a dark navy suit and a black bowtie, which is a wise option for guys who have no need for a tuxedo. Hal brings in that evening vibe with a low cut dinner waistcoat, which elevates the suited look for the occasion. It was a pleasure to have him along with us!
Hector, a seasoned menswear guy originally from New York, has an expansive bespoke wardrobe and is always itching for a reason to break it out. He’s become a regular for any event I do, whether it’s Dapper Day or even something at the Bloke!
His tuxedo is absolutely phenomenal. It’s a wide lapeled, shawl collar 4×1 DB which follows the same cut as the iconic one from Casablanca. In a definite Bond move, he asked for turnback cuffs on his jacket sleeves, which give it an almost regal vibe. Hector told me that he prefers grosgrain facing, but this one has satin, making him match the rest of us. He even has velvet slippers too!
He does get to separate himself from us though, by wearing a full tuxedo instead of separates. Hector also has a hidden placket shirt, which removes any need for easily lost studs. I also love that he wore his Hockney-esque glasses! Hector’s whole thing is really just black tie done damn right.
You already saw a written play-by-play of the evening, now here’s the visual representation!
Oh boy, this really was something I’ve wanted to do. Like I said, while I enjoy Frasier, I don’t think I could take myself as seriously or even want to live life like an old money, stodgy socialite. I’m the guy who will be extremely dumb in a nice tuxedo, and I think I was able to accomplish that during the evening, along with some of the best guys I’ve had the pleasure to call my friends. The whole time I kept looking around smiling, almost like a proud parent.
Dapper Day has really outdone themselves this time, bringing in two back-to-back events that were just incredible to experience. Being around such well dressed people (in a variety of styles, not just classic or vintage) is always fun and something that should be celebrated more often! It’s also a testament to the fact that art and music can be fun. It was my first time actually attending a concert in the Hall and I was awestruck the whole time. I even got tickets for Tchaikovsky & Debussy, which may not involve the whole group, but will be a fun experience for me.
It was a little sad to see that not many people dress up for the Phil anymore, but that’s really okay. As classic menswear moves from being strictly occasion and rule based to an actual expression of personal taste, we’re going to get guys who are excited about it, not dudes who do it because they have to. And I’m all about that. I mean none of us had to wear evening wear, but that’s what made it fun, since it was an intentional choice. I could tell some people were looking at us, and I hope it gives them the confidence to perhaps try it out next time they come to the Phil. If they even just put on a bow tie, I’ll count that as a victory!
I’ve gotta tell you, wearing evening wear is an addictive feeling. I can only hope that we get more opportunities in 2019. And if there aren’t, then I’ll have to make one myself! Stay tuned for that..
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza
Photography by big chungus and the people holding my camera at the time