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Author Topic: Varavour's Primer for What to Wear and When to Wear It  (Read 11742 times)
Governor Varavour
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« on: May 22, 2012, 09:07:59 pm »
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It's come to my attention that a good deal of you are unaware of the vagaries of dressing protocol. This is understandable- the common man sees little exposure to such things in his day-to-day life. But I think it is important that we understand these distinctions. Some authorities may not designate these distinctions of mine to be "correct" but they are based upon modern practice and my own observations.

There is a habit to refer to a broad category of clothes as being formal that really are "more formal than streetwear", as we'll see formal refers to a specific category of clothes. So here it goes:

FULL DRESS/FORMAL

While the "correct" term for this kind of dress is formal, it is so rarely seen today that to designate it to be formal to the detriment of semi-formal wear seems hopelessly outdated. I shall exclusively refer to it as full dress, which is also correct.

Daywear
(before 6pm)
The most formal kind of morningwear seen today, the morning suit is not actually considered by some authorities to belong in the category of full dress, instead placing it a notch below in the semi-formal category, and leaving the position of formal morningwear rank to the frock coat. Considering the latter garment has not been worn for the better part of a century, I must respectfully disagree and place the frock coat with the doublet and swallowtail coat in the closet of historical garments. Morning dress, in my hierarchy, stands at the top of the morningwear pyramid.

While the term tailcoat is most commonly applied to the white tie outfit, the morning suit is also a tailcoat; it too has the characteristic "tails" extending past the waist and towards the knees. Whereas the evening tailcoat is sharply cutaway at the waist, double-breasted, and cannot actually be buttoned shut, the modern morning suit tapers away from the waist, is single breasted, and can indeed be buttoned. It is almost always peak lapelled, as the evening tailcoat. It can come in a more formal black or less formal greys, the former of which is always paired with a grey vest, single breasted, while the latter can also be accompanied with single breasted grey vests or earth pastel vests both single and double breasted.

As for pants, the more formal choice is pinstriped black pants while muted greys are less formal. Paradoxically, the least formal variant is one where the jacket, vest, and trousers are made from the same fabric and match, this is as this combination most mirrors the informal three-piece suit. Neckwear can be either a necktie or a ascot. A top hat is a nice touch, though optional, a black hat is the most formal while a grey one is less so.

Overall morning dress is a very customisable code that lends itself to a surprising amount of combinations. It is appropriate at state events, formal receptions, some horse races, and weddings, at the last of which one finds a surprising amount of morning suits at in the UK.

Eveningwear
(after 6pm)


Sharp, angular, and well-fitting, the white tie outfit is perhaps the living embodiment of sartorial excellence and aristocratic luxury. Iconic, it remains a practical set of clothes with a set role.

Its most characteristic element is the tailcoat. Double breasted, it regardless cannot actually button closed; the buttons are a vestigial remnant of the double breasted Regency swallowtail coat. Unlike the morning suit, it only comes in a black color, although like the dinner jacket, midnight black is an acceptable "blacker than black" alternative. It is almost always peak lapelled, a notch lapel usually indicates a poor modification to a normal informal suit pattern. The coat looks best when its front's lowest point is at the natural waist as opposed to the top of the hips, this is the great flaw of Obama's rig.

The neckwear is a white bowtie, which is the only option. This is accompanied by a stiff wing collar, the taller the better. While historicists might use the fully upturned collar as an alternative, this is again on the verge of period-wear and is best avoided by novices or those not wanting to look costume-y in general. The collar is accompanied by a white shirt, with the expected white collar studs. The cuffs should be single-barreled.

The waistcovering is the white waistcoat, with a low buttoning stance and usually backless, the comic full-waistcoat that only properly belongs on its own or with a three piece suit  is terrible with black tie and grounds for assault with white tie. The bottom of ones' waistcoat should line up neatly with the bottom of one's jacket, and the waistcoat should not be seen below it. The trousers provoke no further remark besides that they should fit well and match the coat. One does not wear a belt to hold up ones trousers in such a situation, braces are used.

Of course, a black top hat completes the look. It should preferably made of silk, but as these are no longer manufactured anywhere felt is the more common material. It is an elegant climax to one's garment, but most men either lack the panache to pull it off or fear looking like the Monopoly Man, which is regrettable but understandable. As for an overcoat, the Chesterfield is considered correct.

Unlike other garments, white tie is a rigidly prescribed set of garments and manner of wearing them, that, if followed correctly, will look good on almost any man.

Thus ends my first installment.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 09:59:05 pm by Governor Varavour »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2012, 09:41:53 pm »
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Terrific thread, I move that it be stickied.
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2012, 09:58:26 pm »
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2012, 10:49:05 pm »
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Overall morning dress is a very customisable code that lends itself to a surprising amount of combinations.

customizable
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2012, 11:03:40 pm »
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Terrific thread, I move that it be stickied.
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Governor Varavour
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 11:19:20 pm »
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Overall morning dress is a very customisable code that lends itself to a surprising amount of combinations.

customizable

Realize it's involuntary at this point.


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« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 05:22:44 am by Simfan34 »Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 11:46:40 pm »
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BTW, quoting yourself in your sig should be an infractable offense.
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2012, 12:36:29 am »
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Simfan needs to go to Dude Fest.
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 07:28:04 am »
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Is the umbrella with a sharpened tip (for deterring roustabouts) more acceptable with morning or evening attire? Also, is it okay to wear these outfits even though I might thus be expected to know how to ride a horse? I do not know how to ride a horse.
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Governor Varavour
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 10:03:21 am »
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Is the umbrella with a sharpened tip (for deterring roustabouts) more acceptable with morning or evening attire? Also, is it okay to wear these outfits even though I might thus be expected to know how to ride a horse? I do not know how to ride a horse.

I have no idea about the umbrella, and no, it is fine to wear them if you don't know how to wear a horse.

Illustrative Interlude Number One
Waistcoats: countering the decay of modern society


And a note on waistcoats:

A waistcoat with a deep buttoning stance as part of evening attire

GOOD
A waistcoat with a high buttoning stance as a part as informal attire

GOOD
A waistcoat with a high buttoning stance as part of evening attire

BAD

The trend today is to have waistcoats, as part of evening attire but especially black tie attire, that are cut like day waistcoats. This is very bad. A development of prom attire, and the detestable trend to "match" one's date, the high buttoned waistcoat destroys the verticality of the outfit. Whereas with an otherwise indiscernible waistcovering- a cummerbund or a black or white low buttoned waistcoat, a heightening "deep v" effect is created, a high butted waistcoat destroys the balance of the outfit and makes one look like a waiter. At worse, one can look as if someone has spilt a can of paint on one's shirt or as if you a great hulking black mass.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2012, 09:21:17 am by Simfan34 »Logged

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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 10:37:39 am »
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It is interesting but has no bearing on most poster's lives, Simdan.
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Governor Varavour
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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2012, 11:13:58 am »
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It is interesting but has no bearing on most poster's lives, Simdan.

Nor does it on mine, but it's good to know.
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2012, 11:21:04 am »
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And a note on waistcoats:

A waistcoat with a deep buttoning stance as part of evening attire

OPPRESSED DOMESTIC SERVANT
A waistcoat with a high buttoning stance as a part as informal attire

ODD BUT COOL IF IT'S VOLUNTARY
A waistcoat with a high buttoning stance as part of evening attire

FIRING SQUAD VOLUNTEER

Corrected that for you.
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2012, 11:22:18 am »
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Volunteer to be put in front of a firing squad or volunteer to do the firing?

Also if Downton Abbey has taught me anything, domestic servants enjoyed their oppression. 
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2012, 11:27:32 am »
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Volunteer to be put in front of a firing squad or volunteer to do the firing?

Probably both.

Also if Downton Abbey has taught me anything, domestic servants enjoyed their oppression. 
God, no. It's just that union organization in the field was horribly difficult for obvious reasons - they basically came in two kinds: marginally employed and under their employer's strict social control. And for many, esp. young women fresh from the country, they knew it was to be but a phase of their life.
Though if their employers were sufficiently up the ladder, they tended to feel their service made them, too, something better than a common proletarian. (I am, of course, the great-great-grandson of a trained valet. Tongue )
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2012, 11:47:18 am »
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Basically, yeah. My Taid's mother was a domestic servant in some big house or other for a while (her husband was poorly paid despite being a skilled worker, but that was the slate industry for you) and apparently didn't have many good words for her employers (though she did pick up a taste for spicy food while working there).

Anyways, deference was a funny thing. I think it was E.P. Thompson who pointed out that the labourer who doffed his cap to the squire was often not above poaching his pheasants, tickling his trout and poisoning his dogs...
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« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2012, 12:34:09 pm »
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It is interesting but has no bearing on most poster's lives, Simdan.

Nor does it on mine, but it's good to know.

The American 'sack suit' is probably better to know about, Simfan, as we'll all wear something or other like that in our lives, some of us every day at work, probably most of us at least occasionally.

Its comfortable, it looks reasonably nice but not 'showy' (your offerings call too much attention to the wearer I'm afraid and not precisely the right kind).

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Governor Varavour
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« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2012, 02:19:37 pm »
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It is interesting but has no bearing on most poster's lives, Simdan.

Nor does it on mine, but it's good to know.

The American 'sack suit' is probably better to know about, Simfan, as we'll all wear something or other like that in our lives, some of us every day at work, probably most of us at least occasionally.

Its comfortable, it looks reasonably nice but not 'showy' (your offerings call too much attention to the wearer I'm afraid and not precisely the right kind).



I'm getting there! That's going to be the third installment or so.
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« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2012, 03:43:07 pm »
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I prefer The Chap.
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« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2012, 10:19:23 pm »
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This is a complete and total freedom thread.
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« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2012, 10:26:10 pm »
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This is a complete and total freedom thread.

I thought you liked band shirts.
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« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2012, 11:12:27 pm »
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And for everyday wear for men:



Can you see yourself wearing something like this?

It's a crying shame that these hats went out of fashion.   It's time we bring them back into the mainstream...
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Governor Varavour
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« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2012, 11:17:15 pm »
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Amen...amen!
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« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2012, 11:23:12 pm »
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How do people afford this sort of stuff for leisure? I don't have anything against dressing up for an occasion or for work (if I needed to) but all these clothes have to cost thousands of dollars. A couple of these suits could cover a month's worth of rent and then some.
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2012, 11:25:23 pm »
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Is this a thread specifically for men's wear, or can we include recommendations for women as well as far as evening wear is concerned?  Because if this thread's purpose is broader, I have something sexy, sensuous, and yet elegant in mind.  Something like this:




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