By offering a men’s formal hire service, we are often asked to explain the difference between the terms Dinner Suit, Evening Dress, Black Tie, Tuxedo and White Tie, so here is a brief explanation.
Dinner Suit (Evening Dress)
A Dinner Suit consists of a black (or very occasionally a Midnight Blue – this is almost never used in hire or ready to wear, only in Made to Measure) jacket which is usually single breasted but it can be double breasted that has either silk or satin on the lapels and pocket flaps and a pair of matching trousers with silk or satin down the side seams.
If you receive an invitation to a formal event and it stipulates Black Tie then you should wear a Dinner Suit, Dress Shirt (either wing collar or standard collar) and a Black Bow Tie – often people will wear a Black Cummerbund with this suit.
In the USA, any formal Dinner wear is called a Tuxedo, this term stems from the Dinner Suit which was worn as the informal dining wear at the Tuxedo Park Club (a country club in New York) in the late 1880’s.
In the UK and Western Europe, a Tuxedo can refers to any evening wear that is not Black or Dark Navy but is more commonly used to describe a White Jacket.
White Tie is also known as Full Evening Dress and is used on very formal occasions (think Chancellors Speech at the Mansion House, London). It Consists of a black short jacket that is cut to points at the front waist and tails at the rear, A White low cut waistcoat, White Marcella Shirt, White Marcella bow tie and evening/dinner suit trousers. White Tie should never be worn to a function that starts before 6pm.
If you are invited to a formal function that takes place before 6pm, you should (traditionally) wear Morning Suits which consists of a tailcoat, waistcoat, stripped trousers, shirt, tie (or as an alternative for weddings – but never for Ascot, a cravat) and top hat.
More recently, for weddings, the frockcoat and the prince suit have been introduced to complement the tailcoat.