There’s no doubt a traditional black or midnight-blue tuxedo is timelessly appropriate for a black-tie event. However, where some occasions call for conventional evening attire, the rules of black tie have evolved, with elegant variations not only accepted, but embraced.
Indeed, one doesn’t even need a black-tie invitation to dress up for an evening out, as donning a decadent dinner jacket is fitting for a visit to any of London’s finest restaurants and private members’ clubs. And, while the dinner jacket was originally made in silk before wool barathea became popular, for a chicer, more contemporary look, velvet is a sophisticated alternative.
It is also a favourite fabric of London’s most prominent purveyor of partywear, Favourbrook, which was founded by Oliver Spencer in 1993. Spencer, who went on to set up his eponymous menswear label in 2002, started dabbling in textiles when he was at art school, and experimented with making up clothes using everything from ecclesiastical cloths to the very finest woven silks.
With six different types of dinner jackets available in six different colours of velvet, there is a style for all formal occasions. The deep navy marine velvet dinner jacket is perhaps the most classic option for a black-tie event. Tailored for a fitted, slim silhouette, and featuring black grosgrain silk lapels and black grosgrain buttons, when paired with tuxedo trousers, a white dress shirt and a bow tie, it is the epitome of elegance.
Also available in ochre, the dinner jacket’s modern cut with single-button closure at the front gives it a sharp finish that makes it equally suitable for wearing with a roll neck and tailored trousers, or jeans and a white shirt, for a more relaxed – yet still rakishly smart – evening look.
Favourbrook’s adaptations of the traditional velvet dinner jacket include the burgundy double-breasted Gainsborough style, plus the racing-green velvet Grosvenor jacket and navy velvet double-breasted smoking jacket. Deemed an acceptable alternative to a classic dinner jacket at country balls and parties in homes, the smoking jacket can be worn with tartan trousers, a pleated dress shirt and a velvet bow tie for a more playful take on the typical tux.
If, however, a dinner jacket feels too formal, the velvet Nehru jacket, which is characterised by its distinctive upturned collar, is ideal for wearing with smart jeans from day to night. Alternatively, a velvet waistcoat – another Favourbrook signature – is a bold and stylish option. Available in navy, green, ochre and scarlet with gold silk thread embroidery, it makes a fabulous evening piece for festive occasions, especially when worn with a cravat or a neckerchief to give it a nonchalant yet dapper twist.