It may seem odd to call a lounge suit informal evening dress when much of the world defines informal as jeans, but that is all the language leaves us. After all, black tie is considered semi-formal, and the lounge suit is certainly less formal than the dinner jacket.
Still, Friday seems like the right day to bandy about what to wear to the opera, the symphony or the theater in a city. And that is ideally a suit or a double breasted blazer in a not-too-dark shade of navy blue, like the one the late Aristotle Onassis is wearing to take his wife on the town in the photograph. That is of course because that shade of blue under artificial light looks blacker than black.
Like dinner jacketings, the cloth of this suit or blazer should be a solid or semi-solid like Mr. Onassis' herringbone. Stripes and patterns should be reserved for day wear, though there is no reason that an evening-approprate suit cannot be worn during the day from time to time. At night, it should be combined with a white shirt and a necktie with sheen that evokes a dinner jacket's satin lapels. A black or dark blue satin four in hand works nicely. A conservative bow tie that recalls more formal clothing is equally fitting.
No part of this ensemble should ideally be worn during the day of the event, for once upon a time men always changed for dinner and dressy evenings are an opportunity to pay homage to that practice with unwrinkled clothing. This is a state of affairs that is not always practical during the work week, but anyone should be able to change his shirt and necktie.
I do include the blazer in this category of dress, particularly as the formality of the occasion decreases. The theater, for example, or the baccarat or backgammon table. Perhaps a club, though appropriate dress for clubbing is so completely dependent on the particular club and locale as to be immune to my generalizations.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Photo: Tom Wargacki/WireImage