Black Tie Dressing - Cigars and accessories for big occasions

Black Tie Dressing - Cigars and accessories for big occasions

by Nick Hendry

Few occasions feel as glamourous as those with a black tie dress code, and such glamour and opulence goes hand-in-hand with the enjoyment of Cuban Cigars.  As we slowly and cautiously return to mixing as freely as we once did in the days before 2020, and as evening gatherings return to our diaries after 15 months of solitude, black tie events are returning to the social scene.  What better tonic can there be to such a prolonged period when leisurewear was the only requirement to work from home than a night spent in rare and beautiful fabrics, awash with the best champagne and with fine Havana puros filling the air with their scent?

A gentleman dressed in black tie enjoys a Cohiba cigar

 Black tie and Cuban cigars go hand-in-hand.  Main Image: A fine tie from La Bowtique paired with a fine cigar from EGM Cigars. 

The combination of black tie and cigar smoking goes back to the very inception of the style.  Pioneered in Victorian times by the fashionable Edward, Prince of Wales – who went on to become Edward VII of Great Britain – it was the desire of the prince to have a less formal version of the tailcoats traditionally worn in the evening created that led to what we now know as black tie.  He commissioned from Henry Poole of Savile Row a midnight blue smoking jacket in silk, intended for use at Sandringham and to be worn when he would take dinner and one of his roughly 12 daily cigars.  In the more than 150 years since, fashions have evolved and black tie has become associated more with formal events than the informal every-evening dinner wear the Prince first conceived.  Now, we don a fine dinner jacket when we want to impress, to make an extra effort and to celebrate success, or merely the opportunity to be together.

2 well-dressed gentlemen enjoy Cuban cigars and black tie dress

The gentlemen of La Bowtique show how to be creative with black tie while enjoying some Cuban cigars.

If asked by your host to adhere to a black tie dress code there are a few guidelines we must follow, but only one hard and fast rule: the tie must be black, must be bow and must be tied by hand – no clip-on is truly elegant.  From here we are free to express ourselves with colour and texture, as long as we stay within the spirit of things.  For gentlemen, begin with a tailored short jacket and close-fitting trousers; traditionally these would also be black but modern tastes allow for, and indeed appreciate, more variety – an ivory shawl collar jacket with black trousers, or tartan trews with a notch lapel jacket in black velvet will display your taste and imagination but also your respect for the host’s wishes.  For ladies an ankle or calf-length dress is traditional but cocktail dresses are nowadays just as acceptable.  Any colour the wearer chooses is correct.

An off-white jacket can make a black tie outfit really stand out

An ivory dinner jacket can be a striking alternative to black or midnight blue for a black tie event.

When making such an effort with one’s dress it would be remiss to let standards slip in other areas.  The key is in attention to detail; it would be a shame to set your bar high with an exquisite jacket or a sumptuous dress only to slide well below it with scruffy, unpolished shoes.  Under your jacket should be a crisp white shirt, the cuffs fastened by discreet cufflinks in silver or gold and paired with the case of a watch worn on a leather strap.  Ladies will often choose to adorn their neck and ears with the finest jewellery they have. The same attention should be paid to your cigar accessories – most likely, a black tie evening will be one you keep a special cigar for, so make sure it is cut and lit with the best and most stylish tools available.

A stunning Grosgrain bow tie from La Bowtique

A beautiful Grosgrain bow tie in classic black from La Bowtique

The Tie:

The true star of the show, by rights your bow tie should match the material of your lapel, but this rule is followed less today than in years gone by.  Our friends at La Bowtique have an extraordinary range crafted in many different fabrics, including this exceptional Grosgrain edition.

The Lighter & Cutter:

When your garments are tailored and your evening plans are elegant it is not just functionality one needs from a cutter and lighter, but beauty.  They must meet the standard of your clothes and they must not ruin the lines of the garments – one thing black tie dress does not offer much of is pocket space.  The S.T. Dupont MaxiJet Lighter and combined Cutter & Stand are slimline, handmade and a sleek pairing of black and chrome that will slip into the interior of your jacket without creating unsightly bulges.

The Cigar:

For a formal occasion, for an evening which sees us display the finest of our wardrobe and a gathering we have watched approach on the calendar for months, it can really only be Cohiba cigars we smoke.  They are the best Cuba has to offer, the colours of their livery and the shining foil of their bands will pair with the jewellery and fine timepieces no doubt on display and their very name speaks of extravagance and excellence.

With thanks to our friends at La Bowtique for the imagery.

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