White tie is the elegant suit par excellence, the most accurate garment a man can wear. It is traditional and refined, worn to special events, official ceremonies and exclusive occasions that take place in the evening. As tuxedo and morning dress also white tie should be worn by men who are endowed with inner elegance and ease to avoid really unpleasant unnatural appearance. Those who do possess these qualites can wear white tie to reach the top elegance.
Full dress, evening dress or full evening dress all define the white tie. This garment is very strictly regulated. Tailcoat is black, firmly single-breasted but not intended to close. Its main feature is the famous so called ‘swallow tail’. Waist is tight and the peaked lapels are faced in silk like the tuxedo. The waist of the trousers is very high and tight. They are black with two narrow satin strips of braid down the side seams that distinguish them from the tuxedo. They have no belt loop because are cut for braces that ought to be thin and invisible. Waistcoat should be hidden by the front cutaway of the tailcoat. It is white and made of cotton marcella (known in American English as “piqué”) single-breasted three/four buttons or double-breasted 3×2 buttons quite flared. It is worn black only in the Vatican events. Shirt is always white. Cuffs are hold by cufflinks. Bow tie is one of the main features of the white tie and ought to be white as the waistcoat and strictly self-tied. These features together create a balanced and slender figure.
The origin of white tie explains why it is a formal attire. It comes from the frock coat, an outerwear with military origins issued in England in 1720. Then it spread throughout whole England as a comfortable country garment. It was made of coloured baize with a cut away front and two wide tails. It became increasingly common among young dandies that considered it an ‘unconventional’ garment that contrasted the traditional ones. Lord Brummel, then, in the early 19th century put the final touch on the white tie that was blue and double-breasted. Until the middle of the 19th century white tie was a common attire, slowly, though, it became an evening dress with all the features that nowadays identify it. It was now entirely black, lit up by the white shirt. It was Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria, who suppressed the double-breasted coat and started to leave it open. The secret of the elegance of the white tie is the tailoring that guarantees perfect cut and shaping.
White tie to fit perfectly ought to follow completely the shape of the body. Everything ought to be thoroughly adapted to the person who is going to wear it, and at the same time allow every movement. Many little details play a key role in the final result. All the minutiae require a lot of attention. A work that can be made only by a very skilled tailor through accurate handicraft.