Here at T&C, we pride ourselves on our discerning eye for quality. With Tried & True, our editors will give you an inside look at the pieces they simply cannot live without.
This is a story about a piece that I’ve kept and utilized throughout my many years in post-grade life. But first, let me take you back in time. I was a college senior at Fordham University on the verge of graduation; addicted to the thrill of New York City nightlife and the ceaseless well of glamour that it often embodied. Thanks to a freelance assistant position I had at the time, I got a ticket to the hottest fashion event of the season. The one held at a certain prominent museum…
For the occasion, I wore this Italian-wool white tuxedo jacket from J. Crew with a crisp white shirt and a black bowtie. For the year’s theme, a white feather was secretly pinned on the insides of the smooth, silky shawl collar of the jacket making me look like a modern-day Prince of Calcutta and feel like a subject in one of Oscar Wilde’s books. I participated in the spectacle into the wee hours of the night and even fell asleep on my couch back home with the jacket still on, once the party ended.
After this memorable night, I set my sights set on my Senior Ball. I didn’t want to outfit repeat between events so close together, which was admittedly a bit spoiled for someone who didn’t have much pocket change, but I repeat I did. How could I not? The elation from the first time I wore that crisp-white dinner jacket was forever seared into my mind. It’s a piece I was certain would always impart the elegance I desire while it’s on my back.
There are many things to love about this piece. The way the waistline on the jacket is precise without being uncomfortable, how the shoulders sit perfectly without constraint— even the silky shawl that is akin to modern take on the smoking jackets popular during the Gilded Age. I wore it once again in front of my peers within the Italian Renaissance walls of Cipriani midtown feeling as glamorous as I did the first time.
Years later, I now find myself dressing in a black-tie on a weekly basis. New York City is notorious for its gala season in the Spring and Fall. The American Ballet Theatre Gala is my favorite in the city, but I also travel across the Atlantic for the Paris Opera Ballet Gala each season. There’s a magic in black-tie dress, and I especially love the detail and time that it takes to get the right suit, jacket, or jewelry for it.
With the events comes a growing wardrobe. I’m a fan of bespoke clothing. My Huntsman suit serves me well, and I just commissioned a Parisian designer for a made-to-measure tuxedo coat during my last visit to France. These garments obviously take time to make, but that’s what’s unique about the J.Crew Tuxedo coat: it’s off the rack, but fits without any adjustment needed (I know everybody is different, but thankfully this style comes in both “slim-fit” and “classic-fit”). I actually like to dance at black-tie affairs, and the jacket’s double vents allowed me to do so with glee. It’s the only one-button-closure jacket that I fancy because the silhouette doesn’t look wide when it’s clasped— it gives a nice streamlined look.
The world of menswear is changing rapidly, and codes of black-tie are certainly seeing it. Take look around: At the Oscars earlier this year, Harry Shum Jr. wore a white tuxedo jacket by Adeam with a silk wrap around the waist, and Greg Tarzan wore a tuxedo coat by Givenchy that had a longer hemline than classic tuxedo jackets. Luckily, this tuxedo coat can be styled in both classic and fashion-forward ways. For strict black-tie, pair with a beautiful set of patent shoes. For events that allow for fashion freedom, opt-in for 70s style trousers and boots with a taller heel. Both work.
I’ve always believed that any sort of clothing is only as good as the memories that are made in them, so long that they fit properly. This J. Crew tuxedo coat certainly excels in the latter, and has the potential to excel in the former, also.