Cary Grant. James Bond. George Clooney. Iconic tux wearers all.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy for us mere mortals to look so effortlessly suave. It may seem like a simple outfit to put together (after all how can you go wrong with a suit, shirt and tie?), but there's a lot more to it than that. The styling, for example, has moved on somewhat since the 1930s when King Edward VII requested to have a relaxed 'celestial' blue evening jacket made for informal dinners at Sandringham. From colour and cummerbunds to those all-important finishing touches, we've answered all of your black tie questions ahead of the festive season.

Q: Black or blue?
A:
This is a tough one. The case for black is simple: you can't ever (ever) go wrong. Blue, on the other hand, is a little riskier but all the more exciting. Plus, blue photographs much better than black as the latter can take on a slight greenish hue under flash bulbs - perfect if you're getting hitched this Christmas or happen to be a Hollywood actor (Mr Gosling take note if you're reading). Ours is immaculately tailored in the finest wool mohair from renowned Italian mill Vitale Barberis Canonico ‒ King Edward VII would certainly approve.

Q: Does it matter what type of lapel the jacket has?
A:
One word: yes. It should always be peak (pointed) or shawl (curved), never notch (step effect). While the notch is perfectly fine for a business suit, the first and second are what make the dinner jacket so special. The peak, for us, pips the shawl to the post as it enhances the V-neck shape of the jacket, cleverly drawing the eye out to the shoulders and making them appear broader. So, you can cross those weights off our Christmas wish list.

Q: Can I wear a long black tie or does it have to be a bow tie?
A:
This is the one occasion where it's okay to live out your James Bond fantasy, so we say do like 007 and choose a bow tie ‒ silk not satin. Yes, a long tie can look more modern and yes, George Clooney can pull it off (let's face it, George Clooney can pull anything off), but sometimes you just can't beat a classic. Plus, you don't have to stick to black. Try burgundy or navy for a subtle update. Oh, and if you find those YouTube 'how to tie a bow tie' tutorials too tricky, go for one of our ready-tied styles ‒ no one will know the difference. Trust us.

Q: Do I need to wear a cummerbund?
A:
No, and please don't. This season the humble cummerbund has a sleeker, more stylish adversary: the waistcoat. It does the job of hiding those pesky shirt creases just as well, and it doesn't even have to match your suit.

Q: What other accessories do I need?
A:
Formal dress socks, a pocket square (only silk will do) and sterling silver cufflinks. Accessories are the only real way to distinguish yourself from all the other penguins in the room, so make sure yours are luxurious, stylish and showcase your personality. And remember, if you play it safe with your suit, shirt and tie, you can afford to be a bit more playful elsewhere. A snazzy, polka dot pocket square ought to do it.

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