Bow Tie OptionalQ: I have received an invitation to a holiday party. The attire says "black tie optional." Does this mean that wearing a regular suit would be acceptable? I do not own a tux, nor do I want to purchase one just for this party.
A: Yes, the holiday and party season is upon us. "Black tie" suggests that a tuxedo is required. "Black tie optional" suggests that the preferred attire for gentlemen is black tie. However, a tuxedo is not mandatory.
Appropriate tuxedo alternatives include a quality dark suit. Black is the best and most appropriate color. (Dark blue or charcoal gray are tied at number two.) Be sure to wear a white shirt with collar stays. A button-down collar suggests a more casual, "preppy" look. A white shirt with the British tab collar provides a finished look. French cuffs are also elegant, and would be fabulous with some great cuff links. Be sure to wear black shoes (Presidential); fine, black gentleman's hosiery, and a rich tie.
Accessories to be considered - a tie tack, tie pin or gold (tie) rope, and a professional, quality watch (one that you can most comfortably afford). A pocket watch would be outstanding as well. Leave your sports watch on the bureau for this affair. A white, finely pressed, subtle handkerchief peeking out of the breast pocket or one that complements your tie is also a nice finishing touch.
While I understand not wanting to purchase a tuxedo for this one event, you should know they can be found quite reasonably priced these days at many retail establishments. The great benefit here is once you have made the investment, you will have the tuxedo forever, providing it still fits. Enjoy your holiday affair.