Of all the attempts to improve black tie since its heyday in the 1930s there is only one innovation I would endorse unconditionally: the fly-front shirt.
Post-thirties creations first suffered from the addition of excessive flair to the original garments (coloured jackets and ruffled shirts of the ’60s and ’70s) then departed too radically from fundamental form (knee-length coats and tie-less mandarin-collar shirts of the 1980s) then stripped formal wear of its very formality (notch-collar 2-button jackets and long ties of today).
The fly-front shirt is instead reminiscent of how the regular turndown-collar shirt was enhanced in the ’30s with French cuffs, jeweled studs and a decorated bosom to elevate it to the level of refined evening wear. In fact, it could be argued that the new style is a natural evolution of the formal turndown. By hiding the fastenings with a concealed placket the shirt takes on a less fussy look suitable for today’s relaxed fashions yet maintains a more refined appearance than a regular dress shirt.
Just make sure to choose a model with a reinforced bosom that provides the shirt with its brilliant white contrast (or at least wear an undershirt). The bosom can be either plain or decorated.
Unfortunately elegance such as this doesn’t come cheap. Currently it seems that these shirts are available only from high end shirtmakers such as Armani, Kiton and Turnbull & Asser, the latter being the creator of the shirt featured in Casino Royale. The most economical option may be Hugo Boss models available at retailers such as Nordstrom and Buy4LessTuxedos.com.
See my post Of Fly Fronts and French Cuffs for some important tips on what to look for when shopping for formal shirts.