Black tie is worn on special occasions. And what could be more of an occasion than a dinner to celebrate one of your closest friends?
You best believe we’re going to wear black tie for that!
I met Jay when I was first becoming friends with Spencer. While he wasn’t fully into vintage menswear like we were, Jay was always interested in “looking nice”. When we hung out, Jay would always have a slightly ivy (or at least preppy) style, juxtaposed with a few novelty vintage pieces that were no doubt acquired through his years of friendship with Spencer. Jay and I became close during this time as well, mainly because I didn’t have any clothing friends during my college years and OC was close to Corona (where I went to school). The best part was that we were the same size, which meant that we could try on each other’s clothes or fight each other on the cool stuff we found while out perusing stores. You might even say this ability to be tangible exacerbated his descent into menswear.
If you’re familiar with the blog or my instagram, you’ll know that Jay has grown into being a fully fledged menswear guy in his own right. His tailoring has always been more traditional (he does work in a pretty corporate environment), but what I love is that his casual style has always been playful. He rocks a bandana or neck scarf any chance he gets, worn with some cool piece of outerwear (usually a short jacket or a casual sportcoat) and a pair of wide legged pants. Even though it’s different than what I wear on a daily basis, I truly enjoy his style and he in turn has inspired me to try a few things.
While Jay doesn’t tend to wear a full suit if he doesn’t “have” to (presumably a downside of being corporate five days a week), he definitely tries to create contexts that inspires him to make outfits. This results in him being a prolific and consistent event organizer for his friend group. Not every event is fancy (though our annual Friendsgiving always has an elevated fall casual vibe), but there is always a bit of a theme. Jay recognizes that clothing is fun and likes to enhance this hobby with making events. This is a contrast to me, as I just wear what I like to wear to whatever I happen to be doing (within reason). But hey, I enjoy being attending events, so I definitely love Jay’s sense (and creation) of occasion since it gives me something to look forward to!
That being said, I wouldn’t mind joining forces to create a fun party that lets people dress up for fun. I think a Jay + Ethan hosted shindig would be quite epic.
Something that we were kicking around was black tie, the ultimate menswear “theme”. As menswear enthusiasts, Jay and I definitely love the idea of wearing a tuxedo (or evening separates) and just hanging out with our friends. However, we’re also aware that it might be a little extra to do that; even though I live in a context-less world, I still like to think of black tie as occasion wear. I’ve enjoyed my outings to the symphony, but it would be nice to have something that a bunch of friends could easily (ore excitedly) go to. We originally thought of doing something like this for New Years, but NYE is usually pretty casual in itself and most friends are gone with family or significant others. It seemed like we were just going to plan a quirky random evening when his eyes lit up and said: “how about we do black tie on my birthday”?
To be clear, we celebrated Jay’s birthday proper with a casual hang in early January (you can see that he still wore a neck scarf and grey trousers), but we were all looking forward to getting fancy a few weeks later. Reservations were quite hard to come by for a group of this size and many “fancy” places were cost prohibitive to reserve. In the end, he decided on the Tam O’ Shanter, which isn’t exactly fancy, but it is quirky and feels to me like an Old Hollywood thing to do. Black tie would work, onlookers be damned.
The short weeks leading up to the dinner was spent with us scrambling to figure out our rigs. Spencer debated on wearing his full tuxedo for once. MJ had to pull out pieces from his old choir uniform. We all wanted to do this right! This was especially true for me, as most of my black tie looks have been a a play on the concept , with the only “real” look being the smoking jacket number I wore to the final act of Tristan und Isolde. I wanted to take this opportunity to do a more conservative black tie rig, at least with the pieces I already have in my closet.
My look is a bit of a nod to Casablanca as well as what Aldo Raine wore during the climax of Inglorious Basterds: a white DB sportcoat (sue me) with true black tie accoutrements. The DB is linen-cotton which certainly didn’t keep me warm during the “cold” LA winter evening, but I felt like it was appropriate. I could have worn the purple smoking jacket again, but as I said, I wanted to do something a bit more reserved.
The new thing you’ll notice is that I’m actually wearing a stiff wing collar shirt. Jay and I were discussing how we’ve come around on the stiff shirt, as black tie just makes sense for its trussed up aesthetics. It’s a poly-cotton shirt I found on eBay (the listing didn’t have the materials and I honestly should have asked) and unfortunately for you vintage purists, it is not detachable; it also has a pleated front.
That being said, I actually really like this shirt. It felt very cool to wear and was definitely appropriate to be in service of Jay’s theme for the evening. I especially like the contrast between the stiff collar and the slouchy vibes of the linen jacket. You may think it’s a bit at odds with each other, but that’s always been my thing. Though I can’t wait to see what it looks like when its worn with a proper tuxedo suit (whenever that happens).
And yes, I wore sunglasses at night because why not. Maybe Babylon had a bigger effect on me than I thought!
Despite being the guy who started this, Jay didn’t have any evening wear, save for his velvet jacket. He ended up buying a sharp 1940’s double breasted tuxedo from Joyride a week or so before the dinner; he went further by ordering a stiff detachable wing collar tux shirt that had a marcella front from Darcy. He also added a black diamond tipped bowtie, a boutonnière, and a cream opera scarf. Jay really wanted to full send this and he certainly succeeded. Why wouldn’t you go extra to celebrate your birthday?
As you can see from the rest of the photos, all of the attendees all got dressed up to the nines as well. I love that Youmna wore gloves with her black dress. Quinn and Paula both wore suits to great effect. And Hannah, Emily, and Deb looked gorgeous in their dresses. This was all done to celebrate Jay. After all, why wouldn’t you want to look your best for the guy who gives us so many other occasions to look forward to throughout the year? He definitely deserves this occasion.
The only questions is when do we get to wear black tie again? I like that its been a recurring theme for a few of us lately and I’d love to see it develop…
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Killing all of this – where are the shades from?
They are the Akila Apollos!