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.