Dinner Jacket Etiquette

Black is always right, but white is sometimes wrong.
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The "what to wear" is an issue men face when deciding on an appropriate dinner jacket for more formal occasions. The two traditional choices are black or white. However, beware of wearing white at the wrong time of year.

1 Black Tie

Invitations that specify "black tie" mean you must wear a proper black-tie tuxedo. A black suit, or ordinary black jacket isn't an acceptable substitute. There are many outfitters who hire out evening jackets, so there is no need to buy one. You must wear it with classic black-tie trousers, a black bow tie and a white wing or turndown collar shirt. If the invitation says that black tie is "preferred," "requested" or "optional" then you are not obliged to wear a tuxedo, but it is better etiquette if you do. If you opt not to, then wear a dark suit.

2 White Jacket

The white dinner jacket is an attention-grabber. However, limit its use to warm-weather occasions, which was what it was originally designed for in the 1930s. According to Black Tie Guide, gentlemen should never wear a white jacket to an occasion in the city: Country club and yacht club parties are more appropriate settings for this alternative to black. Wear a white tuxedo with classic black-tie trousers, white shirt and black bow tie, as you would with a black jacket.

Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.