When it comes to black tie, the rules are pretty set. Yes, there are different lapels and varying types of pleated shirt front but at the end of the day it all boils down to a black tuxedo and a bow tie…. Or does it?
The often overlooked white dinner jacket is enjoying a resurgence of late and is the perfect way to stand out when the dress code stipulates everything but. Historically worn for formal events that took place during the warmer months, white dinner jackets have been cropping up on red carpets with increasing frequency recently. And while this classic piece skews towards the more formal end of black tie dressing, when worn correctly it can be the epitome of old world elegance and class.
Here, we explain the proper way to wear and style this statement piece so that it feels contemporary and decidedly you.
When to wear a white dinner jacket
While we’re not sticklers for tradition, there are certain occasions where a white dinner jacket is better suited than others. Traditionally, white was worn in place of a traditional black suit to deflect heat. This made it the perfect alternative for black-tie events that were held in the afternoon, during the Summer or at sea. Today though, there’s more flexibility and a white dinner jacket can be worn comfortably to evening black tie events.
The trick lies in understanding that it is a true statement piece. This means that it should be worn sparingly, swapped with the traditional black or dark navy jacket once or twice per year. Given a white dinner jacket contrasts dramatically with the usual darker hues of black tie, it’s best suited to occasions that allow for some flamboyance - not just any old dinner that demands a tuxedo be worn. It’s also advisable to steer clear of wearing a white dinner jacket to a wedding (unless it’s your own or you’re making a conscious effort to show up the bride.)
How to wear a white dinner jacket
When it comes to styling a white dinner jacket, go for a classic black-tie look. A plain plissé front shirt, black satin bow tie, black tuxedo trousers and patent black dinner shoes will make for the perfect foundation. Add the white dinner jacket for a final sartorial flourish.
You can break up the white shirt and jacket by adding onyx studs to your outfit. These are a classic accessory that can be worn both with a white dinner jacket and your classic black or navy tuxedo.
When wearing a white dinner jacket. steer away from patterned accessories or a white bow-tie. This starts dabbling in the territory of white-tie which is a separate dress-code and the most formal in Western dress.