A Fancy Dinner

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It’s nice to get dressed up. It’s even nicer when dressing up means Black Tie!

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Black tie is something I seldom get to do. I live in LA, which is quite notorious for being a casual city; even when people dress up, it’s not that much (black tie isn’t usually on the docket). It makes me quite thankful for the company I keep, which is full of like minded guys who are into niche takes on classic menswear. I’d posit that despite our confidence, we still don’t go too overboard when we go out. As most of us have moved away from overt ivy or Esquire Man, the vibe has shifted into a sexier (or edgier) take on tailoring that is decidedly not invoking formality. I’d be lying to say that I didn’t miss it.

Obviously I still wear a full suit every once in a while (mainly to trivia where no one gives a shit), but black tie and evening wear is something entirely different than regular tailoring. It’s elegant and monochromatic. It’s special. It’s fancy. I’ve only had a few opportunities to wear it where it made sense: New Year’s Eve Eve, Dapper Day at LA Phil/LACMA, and a college friend’s wedding. It doesn’t come up regularly as it does for my pals in NYC, where the city is so conducive for dressing up in tuxedos just for the hell of it (though some do like going to the opera or the ballet in black tie).

That’s why I decided to make an occasion to wear it. Okay, more like suggest! After all, we’ve been in a pandemic for over a year- we deserve a good excuse to wear some fancy clothing! A few lads across the pond did it for fun, so why can’t we?

So my friends and I decided to have a bit of a fancy dinner at an Italian spot in West Hollywood. Most of us are still young and in the beginnings of our careers, so it wasn’t a super fancy place but good enough for us to have a great meal, a few drinks, and take some photos. I didn’t want this to be as “ironic” as I was as a college student, where I wore a bow tie to get boba or eat at Denny’s- I wanted a little bit of seriousness. Just a bit. And I’m so happy that these group of friends were down for it. It wasn’t even completely my idea- the want for a “fancy dinner” came during one of our weekly trivia outings!

The best part was that this wasn’t even a menswear event- this really was my regular friends and I deciding to be a little bit extra for the Holidays and NYE. And since this was less of a typical production, the only camera I brought wasn’t even my DSLR or my film ones: it was a 2010s digital point-and-shoot. Quicker than a DSLR and has more flexibility than film!

I really hope this becomes a regular occurrence, because I’d love to explore variations on Black Tie in a conducive setting. There still needs to be some reasoning behind black tie; I wouldn’t just wear this to a local trivia night!

I’ll admit this dinner probably wasn’t super wise as the first Omicron case in Los Angeles was reported on Dec 3. I guess that retroactively, that makes this dinner a bit more special, since I haven’t seen these people since then- and thankfully none of us contracted Covid!

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I initially wanted to just wear my tux shirt + 1930’s tux pants (which are on the verge of not fitting) with my recently acquired kimono-sukajan top for a look that was equal parts Safin and this stellar fit from Scott Fraser. He wore his tunic without a bow tie- I wanted to try it with a full rig. Unfortunately, I ran into some problems. Firstly, the kimono lacks long sleeves, which looked odd with my poofy tux shirt and French cuffs. Secondly, I looked like a glorified wizard or choir teacher on its own. Thirdly, it was fuckin’ cold.

In the end, I wore my [also recently acquired] cream Ring Jacket sportcoat which looks quite close to a cream dinner jacket (my DB doesn’t’ fit anymore). I actually quite liked the kimono laid on top, resulting in a bit of a Bohemian mixture that still echoes that Safin look I was after. I also decided to rock my fisherman sandals (a collaboration between Western Gifts and 2120) with some red socks (for the season). I think it plays into the creative black tie look in a way that doesn’t rely on a dandy velvet slipper (which I have now realized after painful wears that my Stubbs are a half a size too small).

I’ve done straight forward Black Ties before (with perhaps a microcosm of fun), so it felt really great to let loose with this one!

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I really love this thing!
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MJ doesn’t have anything black tie, but I admire him getting into the evening wear spirit. You can see that he has my old Camoshita suit (that I grew out of), which features that lovely donegal-ish fleck on its wool-silk cloth; it’s perfect for the holidays. To keep things elegant, he has a navy turtleneck and a 1950’s rayon scarf, the latter of which was also mine some time ago.

I think MJ looks sharp as hell!

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I should have told him to fix his bow tie. Oh well!

And lastly we have Spencer, doing a Ralph-esque look by combining black tie with some cowboy vibes. Originally he was going to do a more 50’s combo since we had just covered West Side story, but I’m glad he did this because it fits in with my own weird take on Black Tie.

You’ll of course remember his silverbelly Open Road, Teenaged denims, and cowboy boots from his everyday fits, but the Black Tie pieces are stuff only long time readers will know these ones. Spencer brings back the 1940’s DB jacket that he wore to his father’s wedding back in 2016. For some reason, the sharp lines of the DB work with jeans better than a single breasted one; Ralph typically does this.

The shirt is actually a regular old soft spearpoint which was Spencer’s first (and only) commission from Luxire. Since it suffers from “going too wild” as is typical of first time custom menswear users, this shirt has long collar points and French cuffs. It’s quite a dandy shirt, especially considering how Spencer has become less tailored over time. However, the shirt feels quite at home with this “weird” outfit. I have a feeling it will get a new life, just like a few of our other archived pieces.

Snapshots

I don’t have much else to say other than the fact that I love all of these people and I’m so happy I got to dress up and eat with them. It’s proof that even non-menswear people can have fun and be a part of the vibe!

Also, I love this damn camera. I’m going to bring it everywhere, so don’t be surprised if you see more of these types of shots for my editorials and event recaps. It doesn’t have the best quality but the ease of it is so charming. The photos it takes are normally quite flat, so these are edited a bit to look like film! I’m still experimenting, so the style might change in the future.

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Love the hint of green on that pocket square.
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We had such a #menswear background.
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My friend Andrew also wore a turtleneck.
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#menswear drinks
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I had gold metals that day, not just because my sandal buckle has it, but because gold is fun. My cufflink looks like a button!
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Spencer’s was a gun.
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The Rat Pack.
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Hands up!
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We love our charcuterie (or sorry, antipasti).
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I heard this is supposed to catch crumbs?
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Cheese!
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MJ doing his Matt Hranek impression.
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<

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“I love gold” – Goldmember
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Isabel had some gold too!
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MJ’s arm looks long.
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Sandals! I do wish the insole on these were black.
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MJ’s preowned Aldens.
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The boys!
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<

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The guys behind your favorite podcast and stream.
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<

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Andrew has a cool belt!
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Absolutely love Christina’s shawl-coat-thing.
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Spencer doesn’t normally have left overs, so this was a momentous photograph.
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My best friend.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget that you can support me (or the podcast) on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. I also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

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