Reader Role Models: Diplomatic Dash


A couple of years ago I was contacted by a trainee Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Agency for International Development. (USAID officers work in partnership with governments around the world developing and managing foreign assistance programs for economic trade, the environment, democracy and governance, global health and humanitarian assistance among other fields.)  The trainee, Chris, informed me that his class had been advised to buy tuxedos and so he had directed his colleagues to The Black Tie Guide since “this is an important decision for us because we want to represent our nation well, and want to represent our agency well to other US agencies that employ foreign service officers.”

Chris was very pleased with his initial purchase of a Jos. A. Bank grosgrain peak-lapel tuxedo, turndown collar shirt from T.M. Lewen, a grosgrain tie and cummerbund from J. Press (one of only two retailers he encountered who even knew what grosgrain was) and patent oxfords by Florsheim.  As for me, I was very pleased to know that a whole class of Foreign Service Officers were going out into the world representing their country at its best.

Chris recently contacted me again, this time from the Republic of Georgia where he is now serving with the United States Embassy.  He wanted to pass on a photo of his new black-tie kit consisting of a vintage 1990s Cornelliani tuxedo with grosgrain facings and his T.M. Lewen shirt that has been modified to take a detachable wing collar.  The photo was taken prior to the Marine Corps Ball where he reports that the dashing outfit was admired by many, including his bosses “way up the chain”.

As it should be, Chris.  As it should be.


This post is part of an ongoing series showing real-life examples of how to successfully execute black tie. If you’d like to share your own success story please drop me a line.


  1. LAStyleGuy

    He looks great in the tux. Except his tie should rest in front of the wings on his shirt, not behind them.

    1. jovantheun1337

      Technically you’ll see men doing both throughout history. Usually I’ve seen the wings go in front if they are smaller and don’t extend to the sides of the collar. I prefer the latter, though. I also prefer turndown collars with black tie in general. Something about the look of an English spread collar with a black bow tie looks very debonair.

  2. David V

    I’m sure this Dinner Jacket wasn’t all that was being admired. Well done Chris. Well done Peter.

  3. Anonymous

    One thing, don’t put your hands in pants of any kind of lounge-suit or lounge-suit-like attire, by any circumstance. that breaks the perfect lines of the outfit and makes it looks hideous. Only a tailcoat allow to do that without ruining style, cause of its cut.

  4. Carlton

    Not advertising, not joking. Just wanting to see if other tie-lovers see the potential in a new spin on the old necktie!

    1. Jovan

      Carlton, it’s a wonder Peter hasn’t reported you for spam yet.

      Here are the facts:
      1. Your brand isn’t going to last that long. You need to expand into other neckwear or accessories to survive. You cannot last based on one little gimmick alone.
      2. You’ve had one, maybe two celebrities wearing your stuff? Good job I guess, but celebrities are not always looked upon as arbiters of style and taste, as you’d see if you actually read the red carpet blog posts here.
      3. It doesn’t look as good as the alternative string or continental ties of the past. And that’s saying something.
      4. Spam posts are terrible.
      5. Spam posts are annoying.
      6. Spam posts are the worst kind of marketing.

  5. David V

    No. We don’t.

  6. BW_UK

    That’s a pretty sharp looking outfit, Chris.

    T. M. Lewin make some really nice formalwear shirts — nice to see them getting a mention. I have two and really like them. I keep thinking about getting another shirt with a proper tall wing collar (the modern shallow wing collars don’t look right) but, to be honest, the turndown marcella collar just works for me and I think I prefer the simpler and more understated look that it gives.


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