Contemporary Black Tie: Amending Perfection


tuxedo by Burton ( 





Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.

Henry David Thoreau









While many purists argue that black tie reached its evolutionary peak by the Second World War thus rendering all subsequent adaptations unnecessary and even detrimental, the fact is that change is inevitable.  Not only does our perception of elegance continue to evolve but some of the classic garments of black tie’s golden age have become virtually extinct.  On a less practical level, it is simple human nature to be tempted by the prospect of improving perfection, particularly for each new generation looking to make its mark.

Most attempts to reinvent black tie since the 1930s failed to better the outfit and are now forgotten footnotes in fashion history.  To help readers avoid similar pitfalls, this section first explains the principles required for successful adaptation of classic black tie then examines today’s variations to see how well they hold up to those benchmarks.