by David Isle

It's been almost ten years since the “Look At My Striped Shirt!” book came out, and yet, when I go out, it still seems like three-quarters of the men around me are wearing jeans and a “button down” striped shirt. It's the look of a bro who has been told by a woman in his life at some point that he shouldn't go out wearing a t-shirt, and so has dutifully put on the multi-colored untucked shirt that serves as a mating call for his species.

Perhaps this sad situation was inevitable. The lamentable near-disappearance of true evening wear has left a power vacuum, into which sucky PUA-wear has stepped. No matter how many hours of red carpet coverage there are at the Oscars each year, black tie is not coming back any time soon. But you can still use some of the design principles that make black tie so elegant at night: high contrast, departures from office wear, and an evening glow.

High Contrast

Valstarino bomber jacket

Big John jeans

Buttero boots

Wearing solids in dark and light tones emphasizes silhouette. The easiest path is to emulate the tuxedo by wearing a white shirt (even a t-shirt, female advice be damned), dark jacket, and dark pants. Create contrast between the jacket and the pants using texture.

Clock Out

ts(s) jacket

Orcival shirt

Rota pants

Buttero sneakers

Dudes who wear suits to work will sometimes “dress down” their navy blue business suit for a night out by just taking off the tie, or wearing the jacket as a blazer with some grey trousers. A sophisticated dresser can make these outfits look elegant, but the risk is looking like a politician trying to connect with the common people, or an undergrad trying to "look nice" for lunch with his grandmother.

The lapel facings and single button of this jacket borrow from black tie, even though the fabric texture and cropped cut mean that it should be worn casually. In any case no one would mistake it for an office suit that has lost its way. It also amuses me, but probably no one else, that the burgundy stripe of the shirt carries on a long tradition of wear white summer dinner jackets with red trimmings.

A Little Sheen

Camoshita suit

Camoshita shirt

Alfred Sargent shoes

In the daylight, shiny often looks cheap. But after the sun goes down, the lights are low enough that a shiny surface will catch just enough light to provide a twinkle in the night . Well-buffed calf shoes and satin silk accessories provide glimpses of high shine, while mohair blends, very fine cottons, and velvet give a deeper luster.