A New Chapter for the Guide

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I’ve always said that when time spent on the Guide started to feel like work instead of fun then it would be time to move on.  Well, it struck me recently that I’ve now accomplished my most sought-after goals and the remaining initiatives seem more like obligations than recreation.  So it was that when an unexpected and generous offer to buy the site recently came along I couldn’t say no.  Thus, the Guide and its blog are now under new ownership.

The decision is definitely a bittersweet one, a bit like seeing a grown child head out into the world on his own.

It was eight years ago that I set out with a rudimentary knowledge of formal wear and even less knowledge of web design to create the original version of the Guide.  For years afterward I lived and breathed black tie. Evenings and weekends were spent writing and programming until the wee hours of the morning and when that wasn’t enough I’d take a leave of absence from work to devote myself to my hobby full time.  Even vacations became part of my formalwear passion as I’d schedule them around library visits or field research in the form of formal dinners, gala charity balls, and upscale cruises.  (As I’ve said before, it was a tough job but somebody had to do it.)

Fortunately, the increasing scope of the guide over the years led to increasing rewards. There were exciting opportunities for interviews and writing for the media as well as live presentations to various audiences.  Men of all ages and walks of life wrote to tell me how the Guide had transformed their previously negative impression not only of formal wear but of traditional menswear and etiquette in general.  Site traffic increased dramatically every year and the Guide eventually became the web’s “go to” resource, frequently held up as a formalwear benchmark by enthusiastic and grateful netizens.

This past year has been particularly extraordinary, to the point of being surreal.  First I attended the largest black-tie event on the continent, then I realized a long held dream of doing research at the incomparable Library of Congress and finally I received an exclusive invitation to attend the fabled Tuxedo Park Autumn Ball.  Really, what was left?  Certainly not the remaining projects I had in the works which were focused almost entirely on increasing profit, something that had been little more than an afterthought in the past. Considering that I already have a well-paying day job, that profit was unnecessary as supplementary income and far from adequate as a salary substitute.

So the time was right when I was approached last month by a privately owned UK partnership looking to expand their investment in educational sites.  Unlike me, they have both the inspiration and the savvy to maximize the Guide and Blog’s financial potential.  That is evident in the new format of the blog which has been consolidated with the web site rather than existing as a separate, unmonetized entity.  Yet, as you can also see, the blog’s content remains fully intact.  This is evidence of the new owners’ understanding that the draw for the Guide’s one million plus yearly visitors is far more than a catchy URL.

For the foreseeable future I will continue my involvement in the blog on an ad hoc basis whenever I spot something that piques my interest.  My involvement with more time-consuming deliverables such as an eBook, app, or a revised and expanded version of the web site is still to be determined.

Whatever the outcome, though, I take great pride in having brought a black tie education to millions of men (and women) who would otherwise have remained ignorant or misinformed.  I would like to think that my work has made the world just a little more refined than it was eight years ago and I hope it will continue to preserve and promote formal tradition for many years to come.

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to my longtime sponsor A Suitable Wardrobe, my long suffering husband Brandon, and my many devoted readers without whom the Guide would not be what it is today.

Formally yours,

Peter Marshall

14 Comments

  1. Arend

    Thank you for what you made!

    Reply
  2. David V

    Good luck to you. Thanks for your creation.

    Reply
  3. Hal

    An understandable decision. You can be justly proud of what you created here.

    I hope and trust that the new owners will still find plenty of room for your talents, enthusiasm and expertise.

    The very best of luck for whatever new projects you may develop – whether purely personal or something you share with a wider audience.

    Reply
  4. Cygnus

    Thank you for years of dedication! I sincerely hope the new owners maintain your original vision while meeting their objectives.

    Reply
  5. Omschiefslr

    Peter-
    You are incredible! Thank you so much for the comprehensive formal education over the past few years. Congratulations on your decision to relinquish The Guide. It has been a job very well done.
    All the best, Omschiefslr

    Reply
  6. Dan

    Your site has helped me greatly in my formal wear decisions over the years. To this day, I still receive compliments nearly every time I put on my tux. It’s ironic that when you simply follow the “rules” (i.e., formal shirt, self-tie bow tie, cummerbund, braces, proper fit, etc.), you look your best. I also used the knowledge I acquired from reading your site to dress my groomsmen for my wedding a year ago and they looked great. Congrats on the sale of your site and best of luck in your future endeavors!

    Reply
    1. Chris

      I too used the advice on this website to assemble not only the morning suits which my ushers and best man wore at my wedding, but the white tie ensembles which several of us elected to change into after dinner. I love this site and I hope it continues to flourish, thanks for everything Peter!

      Reply
  7. Nick

    Thanks for all the work and good luck with your future endeavours! You’ve undoubtedly helped a lot of people, well into the thousands and thousands. In these past four years I’ve grown quite an interest in formal wear and it all started with a single visit to your website. Thanks for your work!

    Reply
  8. Normand

    May I add to the thanks already expressed, that I often return to the guide for its literary value. I often return to it for the pleasure it gives on reading. It is such a delight to read the agreeable style that you have always shown.

    Reply
  9. John R

    Thank you so much for the education you have provided. It has transformed our social life. A dozen of us now have a monthly black-tie supper, and it is delightful.

    Reply
  10. Richard

    Peter,
    I am getting married in a week and I have used The Guide extensively for information on assembling my outfit. The Guide is a wonderful resource for all of us. Thank you for your years of dedication!

    I do have one question regarding the proper fold for a pocket square. The Guide discusses the TV fold and the “casually stuffed in pocket” approach. My pocket square is white linen and my dinner jacket is a peak lapel. Would the “peaked” fold or “double peak” fold for the pocket square fall into the realm of the “precision-folded” that should be left to the mannequins? Would those types of folds ruin the aesthetic of “refined minimalism” that black tie strives to achieve?

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall (Post author)

      This is largely a matter of personal preference. If you really like a single or double peak fold and the rest of the outfit is perfectly correct then go for it.

      Reply
  11. Adam

    Hi Peter. I’m not sure if you’re still checking these comments but I thought I’d just let you know how much I’ve appreciated this website. It was your article in Slate that inspired me to get a fly-fronted formal shirt and self-tie bow tie (whose fabric matched the lapels!) for my military mess kit, rather than the ill-fitting pleated front and clip-on I had previously used. A while later I discovered the black tie guide and I’ve read it front to back and am very keen to get a proper black tie rig soon.

    Good luck with whatever comes next.

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall (Post author)

      Glad I could help!

      Reply

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