Until the second half of the 19th century, a gentleman dressing for the evening donned his waistcoat, white tie, tails, and top hat. In the 1860s, however, Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, presented the man of fashion with another option. After scandalizing society in general and his mother, Queen Victoria, in particular by conducting an affair with an Irish stage actress, the British heir apparently set tongues wagging again when he appeared at an evening function wearing a tailless dinner jacket. This audacious attire was introduced to New York in 1886 by James Potter, an acquaintance of the prince and member of the Tuxedo Park Club, from which the semiformal uniform acquired its North American name. Although the tuxedo remains the sartorial standard today, as the following pages show, black tie has continued to evolve, and the elegance of white tie has never gone out of style.
Photo 1: From left: Ralph Lauren Purple Label tuxedo pants and tuxedo jacket with tails, $5,695, pleated dress shirt, $450, and pique vest, $450; Ermenegildo Zegna bow tie, $145; Fred Leighton platinum-and-diamond Art Deco cuff links, $10,000, and onyx-and-diamond bar brooch, $20,000. Kiton tuxedo jacket with tails, $6,500, tuxedo pants, $2,000, shirt, $570, vest, $985, and bow tie, $195; Fred Leighton baroque pearl stickpin, $7,500; Cartier Santos 100 Carbon watch with rubber strap, $4,200; Kleinfeld top hat, $100 by special order. Zilli cashmere-and-chinchilla coat with mink collar, $9,400; Louis Vuitton tuxedo pants, $800, and formal shirt, $495; Brioni bow tie and cummerbund set, $450; Tom Ford wood cane with deer antler handle, $280. LaCrasia Gloves men’s formal white cotton gloves, $40 per pair by special order.
Photo 2: Kleinfeld navy velvet evening jacket, $1,590, plaid pants, $395, waistcoat, $395, pleated dress shirt, $297, and bow tie, $97; John Lobb patent leather shoes, $1,645; Fred Leighton cuff links with diamonds, rock crystal, and enamel, $6,000, and antique Javanese gold ring, $8,500; Cartier Santos-Dumont 18-karat white gold watch with crocodile strap, $14,375; Tom Ford horn cane with bone handle, $940.
Photo 3: Brioni gray plaid peak-lapel dinner jacket, $5,400, and pleated tuxedo shirt, $650; Kleinfeld pleated tie, $295; Fred Leighton platinum-and-diamond cuff links, $10,000, and gold crown stickpin with diamonds and rubies, $8,500.
Photo 4: From left: Isaia midnight-blue tuxedo jacket, $3,570, tuxedo pants, $645, pleated dress shirt, $450, bow tie, $170, and cummerbund, $225 by special order; Polo Ralph Lauren polka-dot pocket square, $75; Fred Leighton gold-and-enamel leopard stickpin, $2,800, and vintage Van Cleef & Arpels gold cigarette lighter, $3,500. Ermenegildo Zegna navy coat with fur collar, $8,995, and black dress shirt, $395; Fred Leighton gold-and-enamel flint-top cigarette case, $15,000; Cartier 18-karat white gold Tank Américaine watch, $13,450. Paul Smith navy tuxedo, $1,865; Cesare Attolini dress shirt, $595; Tom Ford grosgrain bow tie, $220; Kleinfeld pocket square, $68; Fred Leighton natural-pearl stickpin with diamonds, $1,200, and pearl stickpin, $500; Cartier steel watch with black crocodile strap, $6,500.
Photo 5: From left: Louis Vuitton tuxedo pants and tuxedo jacket with satin shawl collar, $2,515, dress shirt, $445, bow tie, $130, and scarf, $320; Gucci patent leather dress shoes, $570. Tom Ford blue silk jacket, $3,550, tuxedo pants, $1,330, dress shirt, $670, and grosgrain cummerbund, $415; Ralph Lauren Purple Label bow tie, $120; Kleinfeld pocket square, $68; Fred Leighton platinum cuff links with onyx and diamonds, $18,000; John Lobb patent leather shoes, $1,645. Domenico Vacca Limited Edition Collection tuxedo jacket and pants, $4,900; Canali tuxedo shirt, $295; Zilli polka-dot tie, $230; Ralph Lauren Purple Label silk pocket square, $75; Fred Leighton pearl stickpin, $500; Salvatore Ferragamo patent leather shoes, $570; Cartier Santos 100 Carbon watch with rubber strap, $4,200.
Photo 6: Bottega Veneta pink and red jacquard evening jacket, $2,600, and pants, $980; Tom Ford light-blue dress shirt, $670, and bow tie, $220; Ralph Lauren silk-knot cuff links, $10; Cartier 18-karat white gold Tank Américaine watch, $13,450.
Photo 7: Stefano Ricci textured evening jacket, tuxedo pants, dress shirt, and pleated cummerbund and bow tie set, prices upon request; Cartier Santos 100 Carbon watch with rubber strap, $4,200.
Stylist’s Assistant: Brett Elizabeth Williams
Digital technician: Hugo Arturi
Photographer’s assistant: John Ruiz
Tailor: Joel Gomez, Lars Nord Studio
Hairstylist: Martial Vivot
Groomer: Samantha Trinh, Atelier Management
Models: Alex Lundqvist, Wilhelmina Models; Patrick Kafka, Major Model Management; and Adrian Wlodarski, VNY Model Management
Retoucher: Eyescapes Labs
Bottega Veneta, 646.292.5888, www.bottegaveneta.com
Brioni, 888.778.8775, www.brioni.com
Canali, 212.842.8700, www.canali.it
Cartier, 800.227.8437, www.cartier.com
Cesare Attolini, 212.246.0085, www.cesareattolininewyork.com
Domenico Vacca, 212.759.6333, www.domenicovacca.com
Ermenegildo Zegna, 888.880.3462, www.zegna.com
Fred Leighton, 212.288.1872, www.fredleighton.com
Gucci, 800.456.7663, www.gucci.com
Isaia, 212.245.3733, www.isaia.it
John Lobb, 212.888.9797, www.johnlobb.com
Kiton, 212.813.0272, www.kiton.it
Kleinfeld, 646.633.4332, www.kleinfeldmen.com
LaCrasia Gloves, 212.803.1600, www.lacrasiagloves.com
Louis Vuitton, 866.884.8866, www.louisvuitton.com
Paul Smith, 646.613.3060, www.paulsmithusa.com
Ralph Lauren, 888.475.7674, www.ralphlauren.com
Salvatore Ferragamo, 800.628.8916, www.ferragamo.com
Stefano Ricci, 212.371.3901, www.stefanoricci.com
Tom Ford, 212.359.0300, www.tomford.com
Zilli, 212.207.4028, www.zilli.fr