While some soirées call for conventional evening attire, these days you don’t need a black-tie invitation to dress up for an evening out. For a visit to any of London’s finest restaurants and private members’ clubs, it is fitting to don a decadent velvet dinner jacket that you can dress up or down by pairing with anything from tailored trousers and a roll neck, to jeans and a smart white shirt.
While dinner jackets were traditionally made from silk (before wool barathea became popular), velvet makes for a sophisticated alternative, and is a favourite fabric of Favourbrook, London’s most prominent purveyor of partywear, founded by Oliver Spencer in 1993.
Fascinated by fabrics, Spencer, who went on to set up his eponymous menswear label in 2002, started dabbling in textiles when he was at art school. Having experimented with making garments using everything from ecclesiastical cloths to woven silks he found at Stephen Walters’ fabric mill in Suffolk, his pieces are still made from the finest and most innovative materials, with velvet being a staple.
Experimenting with textiles to add flair to occasionwear is what Favourbrook is all about. ‘Nowadays people dress down more in the day, even for work, so more people are dressing up to go out in the evening and for formal events like weddings,’ Spencer muses. ‘I think getting dressed up to go out has become even more special, and so people should have fun with it.
With six different types of Favourbrook dinner jackets available in various shades of velvet, there really is a style for all occasions. The single-breasted Chaucer jacket is new for autumn/winter, and is an ideal blend of a housecoat and a dinner jacket, combining satin shawl lapels with matching satin gauntlet cuffs and patch pockets.
A more classic option for a black-tie event, the velvet Grosvenor jacket features a shawl lapel edged with braid, which matches the traditional black frogging detail at the waist, and is available in navy, burgundy and racing green. The velvet double-breasted smoking jacket is an equally formal choice, with contrasting black velvet shawl lapel edged with black braid and black velvet covered buttons. Worn with Favourbrook’s black Hampton dress trousers, a white pleated dress shirt and silk bow tie, it is the epitome of evening elegance.
Velvet shouldn’t just be reserved for the evening, however, and if a dinner jacket feels too formal, the velvet Nehru jacket, characterised by its distinctive upturned collar, is ideal for wearing with smart jeans to take you effortlessly from day to night. The grey velvet Artist jacket is another versatile piece, with a more relaxed, unstructured style finished with smoked pearl buttons on the front, and a single button to the cuff.
Alternatively, a velvet waistcoat – another Favourbrook signature – is a bold and stylish piece for festive occasions, and when worn with a cravat or a neckerchief, adds a nonchalant yet dapper twist to more casual looks too.
As Spencer puts it, ‘A velvet waistcoat looks great under a jacket, then if you want to take your jacket off later in the evening, it still looks amazing. Also, when you’re dressing up it’s all about the details, and a waistcoat shows you’ve paid attention to detail.’