By Nii B. Andrews.

There are several silk items that must come into play tonight if we are to maintain and propagate the tradition of classic black tie on New Year’s eve, even as we shield or self isolate.

The cognoscenti have always prized the vintage tuxedos/ dinner jackets of the 40s and 50s and collected them assiduously; and this was long before conservation became a byword. 

The barathea, mohair and grosgrain elements in vintage tuxes are simply unbeatable. Nothing matches them in style and quality; comparable modern versions will require hefty sums to execute

Let us start from the top of a classic ensemble and work our way down.

LADIES and GENTLEMEN: Larry Otoo, acrylics on canvas,145 x 120 cms, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

First, is the silk self tie bowtie (pre tieds are anathema) of which several shapes are available; my favourite shapes are the diamond tip and the batwing. 

The bowties come in satin and grosgrain; the former with shine and the latter with a matte look. The best recommendation is to match the silk of the bowtie with the silk lapels of the dinner jacket.

This means; satin lapels, satin bowtie. 

But if you are wearing a cream/ivory dinner jacket as in warm weather black tie, your dinner jacket will not have any facings. Thus you have some latitude.

Second is your pocket square. 

Silk of course – plain white or red or variegated; once again, latitude…but please skip a black pocket square with the same color bowtie while wearing a cream jacket.

The cream (not white!) dj, vintage 1950s – à la Bogart; restricted to the tropics/subtropics or on a cruise ship. Red silk boutonniere, jazz age silk pocket square, vintage satin batwing bowtie, Accra 2012.

Third is your boutonnière.

Failing the availability of a freshly cut flower, then a silk one will certainly do. And please make sure that the stem is hidden behind the lapel!

Fourth, a covered waist is obligatory particularly if your jacket is a single breast. 

When using a cummerbund, black satin or grosgrain are the best options; the pedants will again try to match their jacket facings.

Tuxedo /opera pumps with grosgrain bow; silk socks.

Fifth, we are now at the feet where patent or calf leather will hold sway either in the form of oxfords or as pumps aka Mary Janes.

If you opt for oxfords, then silk laces raise the bar.

If your shtick is for pumps, then the bow on the usually low vamp must be silk – either satin or grosgrain.

And nothing else will do but silk socks that end above the calf – make that number six.

New Year’s eve is a fun night therefore we can opt to have socks in a color apart from the usual standard black… anyone, or green or purple? 

To square the circle in that instance, your cufflinks and studs could be in the same color.

Vintage 1950s satin shawl collared double breast tuxedo jacket, brown leather pants and ankle boots; purple silk scarf, New Year’s eve, Dec 2018.

As always, the ladies are welcome to participate in wearing black-tie and when they choose to, they have hardly ever been found wanting.

As the trend towards casual dressing continues, a pared down velvet smoking jacket with a silk cravat also delivers for the occasion.

Black velvet 6 x 2 smoking jacket; white shirt, white silk pocket square, variegated silk cravat, tux pants and opera pumps….the casual/ pared down look; New Year’s eve, Dec 2019.

To all our readers, friends and family; we remain eternally grateful for your support.

It has been a tough year, but the Lord of Life has brought us this far and pronounced the blessing, ” …..even life for evermore”.

Stay safe, folks. May GOD have mercy on all of us.

Happy New Year!

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