Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>White Tie formal
Subject: gentleman in white tie
Culture: international formal
Setting: high formal

Context​ (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

​* Newman/Shariff 2009 p217
"white tie ...  A dress code, more formal than black tie, consisting for men of a black tailcoat, black pants held up with suspenders, a white wing collared shirt, a white vest, white bow tie, and black shoes and socks.  Outdoors, a black top hat and overcoat may also be worn."

​* Bridges/Curtis 2003 p97
​"white tie: A suit consisting of a black wool tailcoat and matching trousers with a black satin stripe down the outside of the pants leg.  Traditionally worn with white cotton, linen, or satin bow tie and matching waistcoat.'

​* Yarwood 1978 p154
"By the 1860s evening dress had become a uniform with no irregularity being acceptable.  The coat and trousers were of black worsted, the former with black silk revers, the latter with braid outside seams.  A black piqué or satin waistcoat, in this period, temporarily replaced the earlier white one.  The shirt front was stiffened and had pleated or frilled edges; a flat white tie was worn.  Apart from the return of the white waistcoat and the adoption of a wing collar and wider bow tie, this outfit has remained the evening dress for formal occasions until the present day, though its use has been more restricted since the Second World War.  It is colloquially referred to as 'white tie' or 'tails'."


* Flusser 1996 p93-94
"The king of all male civilian garments is the evening tailcoat.  Its long tails confer dignity while its starched white expanse of piqué waistcoat, shirt, and tie flatters even the most rubicund of faces.  The evening tailcoat has changed very little in the two hundred years since it was a riding coat.  Its major alteration occurred when its double-breasted model was altered so it no longer buttoned in front.  The single-breasted cutaway retained the button stance from the double-breasted model, as it does today.  The outfit was, and still is, pretty straightforward, entailing very little choice in either color or detail.  All that was needed was to tailor its established proportions to the wearer's frame, and presto: its debonair magic turned average men into movie stars.
    "The outfit consisted of a white piqué bow tie and matching stiff white piqué-front evening shirt with attachable wing collar, worn with a single- or double-breasted piqué vest, black worsted swallowtail coat, and matching trousers trimmed with two rows of braids on the outside of each leg.  Black silk hose worn under patent leather oxfords or opera pumps with grosgrain bows completed the uniform.  A white linen handkerchief with hand-rolled edges graced the breast pocket, while a colored carnation as boutonniere was optional.  The only dressing errors egregious enough to scuttle its perfection were if the waistcoat's points extended below those of the tailcoat's front (a common occurrence today) or if the length of the coat's tails were not resting exactly in line with the back of the man's knees."

​* Newman/Shariff 2009 p189
"tailcoat  A man's coat with a tail or tails, e.g. a cutaway or swallowtail coat.  Particularly popular during the 19thc.  Also spelled 'tail coat.'"

* Fashion 2018 p640
"Tail coat   Type of men's jacket worn as part of a suit in formal situations, open to the waist in the front and cut away in the back to the knees with a long vent in the center back to the waist creating panels that resemble a swallow's tail."

​* Newman/Shariff 2009 p186
"swallow-tailed coat  A tailcoat similar to the cutaway, but featuring a further divide at the back in order to form two appendages, resembling the forked tail of a swallow. Popular among upper-class men during the 19th c., it is worn today only for very formal occasions, sometimes as part of white tie dress. May be abbreviated to 'swallowtail' or 'tails.' Also spelled 'swallowtail coat.' Also called 'dress coat' and 'claw-hammer coat,' due to the resemblance of the coat-tails to the claws of a hammer."

* Bridges/Curtis 2003 p96
"tailcoat: A formal coat with black satin lapels.  The coat is cut short in the front, but long in the back, with gently curved 'tails' reaching to the break in the gentleman's knee."