Pleated trouser are compatible with a cummerbund or waistcoat. Sitting is certainly a lot easier and more comfortable in pleated trouser than plain front. Their waistband must be covered, so they need to fit as high on the waist as is comfortable. Suspenders help to maintain their correct height, and keep their pleats lying flat under the waist covering. The side seams are trimmed with one band of facing (as opposed to white-tie, with two rows), which should confirm in texture to the lapel facings-satin for satin, braided for grosgrain.
Dinner trouser pockets are usually cut on the side seam. Vertical pockets are dressier and easier to get to, especially if their top section is partially covered by a weskit or cummerbund. Better dress vests have side slits to facilitate pocket access. Dress trousers never take cuffs. How could they with their side-seam decoration? A wonderful depiction of this tradition can be enjoyed watching the Fred Astaire classic Shall We Dance.
THE BLACK-TIE WAIST
Hardy Amies, the English tailor, would term it "naf or off," while the legendary English fashion journalist George Frazier would certainly sigh and complain it lacked any duende (style) at all. A trimmed waistband, as a substitute for a waistcoat or cummerbund, is thoroughly "bush league," to borrow a phrase from the days when this novelty was first introduced. Formal dress is ultimately about good form, and sometimes quick fixes that compromise such form need to be recognized as such and be avoided. The tailoring or finishing in high-class evening wear should be invisible, starting with the dress shirt's stud hole and extending to the trouser's waistband and side seam.
While shawl-lapel dinner jackets look elegant with either form of waistband covering, the cummerbund's curved design harmonizes particularly well with this shape of lapel. A fine-quality cummerbund has a little pocket stitched behind its deepest pleat on the wearer's right side. This was to provide a handy and dignified place to keep theater or opera tickets at the ready, which explains why the cummerbund is always worn with its folds pointing upwards. The single-breasted peaked-lapel jacket, like its sartorial antecedent, the evening tailcoat, synchronizes better with the dress waistcoat, as the vest's points below the waist echo those of the coat lapels worn above the waist.
THE BLACK-TIE DRESS SHIRT
Tow collar styles qualify as dignified enough to support the more formal design of the dinner jacket. The original, appropriated from the tailcoat ensemble, is the stiff wing collar. The second, introduced by the Duke of Windsor as a more comfortable alternative, is the attached semi spread, turndown model.
Both collars do justice to any of the classic dinner jacket models, but of all the possible permutations, the one combination that tends to look better balanced is the wing collar with the single-breasted peaked-lapel dinner jacket. Again, its dramatic points are in perfect harmony with the coat's lapel design. Other than that particular combination, both collar styles are correct with either jacket or lapel style.
However, one of the more unfortunate casualties of the modernization of black-tie attire was the wing collar evening shirt. Its separate collar succeeded uniquely in framing and refining a man's face because of its stiff, high, wing design presentation of the bow tie. Once attached to the shirt, it began to be lowered and softened to fit a broader range of necks, and lost not only its stature but also its function. In spite of its resurgent popularity, today's wing-collar evening shirts make most men look like mad scientists, as with one twist of the neck, their collar points crumble and roll over the bow tie. They have little height, no snap, miniature wings, and not surprisingly, little presence, It's no wonder that ideas such as a banded collar evening shirt with a fancy button closure is being substituted. At least it offers a modicum of interest in an area where the drama of the wing collar would have formerly have formerly upstaged all the competition.
Dinner Shirt Details
The less dressy turndown-collar dinner shirts usually have a soft pleated front. Sometimes they are made with a pique collar and matching front, called a Marcella dinner shirt. Since the wing-collar dress shirt commanded a more severe formality, it took a stiff and simple front, either in pique or starched cotton. Even though it is common to see today's wing collar mated with a soft, pleated front, it is yet another example of mixing sartorial metaphors much like wearing a tassel loafer of patent leather. All fine dinner shirts should be made with a bib-type construction so their fronts do not billow out of the trouser tops when seated. Better dinner shirt fronts finish above the waistband and have a little tab that attaches to the trouser's inside waist button to keep it from pilling up. The width of the shirtfront should not extend under the wearer's suspenders. Wing collar shirts take one or two studs, turndown collars take two or three. Black-tie dinner shirts require a double to French cuff.
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