Black Tie on a Budget for a Boss

Wearing a Tuxedo is something every man is going to have to do at some stage of their life. Because of its infrequent use it’s common for men to borrow or rent, anything to avoid spending a fortune on a suit that spends the majority of its life hanging in a wardrobe. Last month I was invited to a wedding with a Black Tie dress code so I thought I’d use the opportunity to pull together an outfit that won’t break the bank.

First things first, the key to Black Tie is not leaving it until the last-minute. If you’re low on funds you can easily compile your outfit over a number of pay checks. Often making the most of your money means purchasing online – a lot of the items below require international shipping so leave adequate time for this.

Finally, please don’t rent a Tuxedo, it’ll cost you a quarter of this entire outfit and it won’t fit. Wear an outfit you can be proud of, one that does your event the justice it deserves. Here’s my picks for Black Tie on a budget for a boss!

Suitsupply Smoking Black Plain Tuxedo: $569US

Lately I’ve found myself directing a lot of our readers to Suitsupply for suiting. Their entire range is so on point and is priced spectacularly. Without doubt one of Suitsupply’s biggest strengths is the ability to purchase their suits in a Long, Regular or Short size. They also ship their international orders very well, in a box the same size as a standard suit bag so your order isn’t folded or creased. At $569US or $608AUD I just don’t think this particular product can be beaten on style, quality and value. I chose this Tuxedo because of its Grosgrain (pronounced Grow-grain) peak lapels – I prefer the peak to the shawl collar. The length of the jacket sleeves and the pants were not altered at all, I did however have some alterations done across the shoulders at LookSmart Alterations but perhaps I was being a little anal because the fit was pretty spot on off the rack.



Le Noeud Papillon Arnold Bow Tie: $165 

Le Noeud Papillon have made quite a name for themselves in the worldwide menswear scene, supported by the likes of Christian Kimber and Simon Crompton for their character and quality. These bows really are the best of the best and it’s good to support local Australian brands doing great things.

Arnold Grosgrain silk bow tie

Your bow tie is the item that adds the devilish detail to your outfit and this Grosgrain Le Noeud Papillon bow tie with its carefree knot adds the perfect amount of sprezzatura to such a formal occasion. It’s important to always match the silk of your bow tie to the silk on your lapels and cummerbund (if you’re wearing one) and make sure you tie your own, pre-tied bow ties are for children.


Abelard Marcella Front Evening Shirt: $139.50

Picking a shirt is entirely up to personal taste. I prefer Marcella finish over fine pleats and I prefer a pointed collar to a wing collar, and studs add a little extra flair. Personally I think the wing and pleat combo are dated. Abelard’s Marcella bib shirt is tailored for a slim fit and offers great quality at a great price. Pair it with some Onyx studs for an extra touch of class.

90A158 SWHTE

Meermin Black Patent Oxfords: 160 €

Picking a pair of shoes for this look was tough, I was very tempted to opt for a plain black Oxford that I could wear again but finally gave into the patents. There’s a number of shoe options you can pair with your Tuxedo, the most traditional being opera pumps with Grosgrain bow and the least traditional your standard black leather Oxford. Unless you’ve got all the money in the world spending a thousand dollars on formal shoes you wear once a year with a Tux is pretty pointless. Luckily Meermin provides the perfect solution between tradition and contemporary style at the perfect price point – they also look brilliant.



IWC 18K Gold Vintage Watch: $1000-$3000

I wrote an article about vintage dress watches not so long ago. There’s something unspoken about the confidence you feel when wearing a fine mechanical watch with your sharpest evening attire.


Albert Thurston White Moire Braces: $82.95 US

For this particular experiment I wanted to keep the cost of my look as low as possible. Had I opted for formal braces (which this particular Tuxedo can accommodate) I would have chosen the same ones Daniel Craig wears as James Bond in Casino Royale.


Cummerbund: £115.00

I wrote an article about the does and don’ts of black tie featuring the Oscars. I called out that traditionally the waistband of your Tuxedo trousers should be covered. If you’re looking to include a cummerbund it should match your bow tie and your lapels, don’t mix Grosgrain with satin silk, you’re better to go without (likewise waistcoats should be made from the same fabric as your Tuxedo). Again I wanted to keep this look moderately affordable and my jacket did a fairly sufficient job of covering my trouser waistband so I went without. Drake’s do sell a nice Grosgrain cummerbund but it’ll set you back over $200!


Cheers to our photographer Shelby for the shots!


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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