A lot has been and can be said about men's formal "black tie" wear. In fact, I have some strong opinions of my own, but today I intend to restrict my comments to one, and only one, point. However, today's post represents the single most important starting point in assembling a black tie outfit. It's pretty simple, too.
The single, most critical element that distinguishes a "black tie" outfit involves wearing a bow-tie, as opposed to a necktie.
I have come to the realization that it is the donning of a bow-tie that truly makes the outfit "pop out" as timeless, formal, and classy.
I'm sorry, but wearing a standard necktie just does not evoke these themes. There is simply too much proximity to the banality of the business suit.
So once you commit yourself to a bow-tie, you can worry about the other details later (choice of lapel (shawl collar vs peaked lapel), cummerbund, fly vs pointed collar, patent leather shoes, etc.).
But if you wear a black necktie you risk looking like a pall-bearer, Agent Smith from the Matrix or a Tarantino gangster.