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Understated Elegance: Another Black Tie Alternative

March 20th, 2017

If black tie is optional, break out a grey suit

Since there’s really only one way to properly do classic black tie attire, we’re going to be spending some time discussing black tie alternatives and approaches and diving into the several variations you are likely to see suggested or requested.

Today, a simple and softer approach to achieving understated elegance and sophistication.



| WEARING | Alan David Custom suit, Uniqlo turtleneck, Cartier watch, Allen Edmonds shoes | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

When it comes to black tie alternatives, less is more. Remember that even if it’s not a strict black tie dress code, you should still dress with the same level of elegance, simplicity and sophistication. This is the time for your dark suit.

As a matter of fact, I had this type of dress code in mind when I ordered this charcoal flannel double-breasted suit from Alan David Custom in NYC. Not only was I looking to add a classic flannel suit to my wardrobe, but I wanted one that would give my dark navy suit a bit of a rest for black tie alternative/optional occasions.

If you are not completely sure if something is appropriate, just ask. And if the dress code seems looser – i.e. black tie really not required – substitute a dark turtleneck in place or a shirt and tie. Without a doubt, you will be the classiest and most sophisticated-looking guy in the room.


Anything other than a traditional patent leather or cap toe oxford is generally frowned upon in a black tie situation. For an optional or cocktail event, you can bring out your shoe game. Broguing and wingtips are appropriate, but make sure it’s an oxford with closed lacing to match the elegance up top.


Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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