by TYLER A. HAMPTON
After a busy holiday season and taking a little breather in January, A Bow of Gallantry is back… I’d like to personally thank all of you who read this every month, and those of you who have patronized the new Hampton’s location in downtown Mooresville. This March will mark ten years of business for Hampton’s, and 2023 was our best yet; we owe it all to you. The warm welcome from our downtown neighbors and the Mooresville Downtown Commission has made our relocation extraordinarily pleasant, and we are excited to see what comes to town in the coming year… but for now, let’s talk about what’s coming up quickly.
The Spring season is on its way, and that means formal events are right around the corner! Whether they be weddings, charity galas, or club parties, chances are, you’re going to need formal attire for at least one occasion in the near future. For some, that may sound like a hassle; for the distinguished man, however, it’s an exciting opportunity to escort his lady fair and demonstrate his sartorial brilliance… or maybe he’s going stag and wants to stand out in the best way. It’s not a chore; it’s a chance.
There are certain items every man should have in his wardrobe whether or not he wears them often. Two of the most notable are a dark suit (in a navy or grey) and a tuxedo, both well-tailored to him. These two garments are staple pieces and can carry you through nearly anything life throws your way. For the suit, it’s appropriate for numerous occasions: job interviews, work, dinners, parties, weddings, funerals, and black-tie-optional affairs. The tuxedo has its place in any formal setting requiring black-tie or black-tie-optional dress. With these two specifically, it’s less about how often you wear them, and more having them when you need them… I regularly see guys coming into the store in a frenzy needing a suit for the next day. Don’t be that guy, because then you compromise on the most important detail of both items: a well-tailored fit.
When we’re talking suits and tuxedos, it’s also imperative to know the differences. Many ready-to-wear manufacturers are now putting satin trim on a black suit and calling it a tuxedo. They do this because it’s the least expensive way to produce a “tuxedo,” and it looks as such. A proper tuxedo jacket will feature peak lapels or a shawl collar, satin or grosgrain trim, one button in the front instead of two, piped pockets instead of flaps, and a ventless back. Each of these features serves a purpose: notch lapels and flap pockets are far too casual for formal attire, the satin or grosgrain trim is to accentuate the formality of the jacket, the one-button closure sits lower than a two-button, creating a longer and deeper V shape to make the wearer look taller and slimmer, and the ventless back is to create a slimmer silhouette at the seat. These all may seem like minute details, but I’ve always believed that if you’re going to do something, you should do it correctly.
While there are relatively strict rules pertaining to formalwear, you can still add your own touch. Whether through accessories such as your stud and cufflink set, your bow tie and cummerbund, or your formal footwear, there are plenty of ways to set yourself apart from the boring (or even worse, the tuxedo renters). Another fun touch, especially at Springtime events, is a dinner jacket. A dinner jacket has the aforementioned features of a tuxedo jacket, but uses a unique fabric such as the ever-elegant pure silk ivory or a brighter, more fun paisley pattern. It’s okay to venture out of your comfort zone… and we, at Hampton’s, would be happy to help!
Remember… if the invitation says black-tie-optional, opt for black tie. You won’t regret it.