I have a couple of events coming up this year where, for the first time, it looks as if I will be requiring white tie, so over the weekend I have begun assembling the necessary items of clothing. White tie is a pretty expensive dress code to put together since it has a lot of individual parts, almost none of which can be taken from black tie. As a result, whilst it would be lovely to buy a brand new rig off Savile Row, or have Cad and the Dandy make me one, I have decided to save a bit of money by doing as much as possible through vintage and second hand stores. I'll be doing my best to stick to 'correct' white tie, but buying vintage is rarely perfect, so this first attempt will, realistically, have to be 'as near as I can get it', and can then be improved upon in the future. If you want an explanation of 'perfect' White Tie then The Black Tie Guide has a small but expanding section on it.
'The Ball Room' in Oxford, where I was visiting my family over Easter, is good for second hand evening tails, and here I found the necessary very high-waisted trousers (with double braid piping, rather than the plan silk found on black tie trousers) and a lovely old tailcoat from the now sadly defunct Barkers of Kensington. The above picture shows the first slight problem with a second hand tailcoat - getting the precise fit necessary to ensure that waistcoat is not visible beneath the tailcoat. Although the effect is much exaggerated by hanging on a coat-hanger, the tailcoat I found is ever so slightly too short for the only trousers I could find. Since it seemed most important that the waistcoat covers the top of the trousers, this results in a small amount of waistcoat peeking out. However, while this may be a breach of the strict gold standard, it's a small and common enough error that I think I am happy enough to put up with it for the time being.
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