Geran asks - I have a date to a very nice restaurant in September very similar to Komi, Citronelle or even Marcel's in DC. The place we are actually going to is in Philadelphia called Lacroix. The official dress code is business casual but the atmosphere is a bit ritzier than that. I have everything in order except for a tie. I will be wearing a solid navy suit with a white shirt and white pocket square. I need some suggestions on the color tie that would be bold and classy but not too far over the top or garish? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
IG – Thanks for asking and congratulations on your date. We’ve dined in Philadelphia before and it seems to be a city full of fine restaurants. The position you find yourself in is unique. Not many men get the chance to dress up for dinner unless it’s an anniversary, Valentine’s Day or the night they ask their girlfriend to marry them. Barring any of these special occasions we're under the impression that you just want to look as good as your lovely date. Besides, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion for it to be a special occasion.
Your choice of color and pattern for suit and shirt is a good one. It allows for maximum versatility with minimal attention drawn to you when it should be on her. Assuming your dinner is after 6pm there are only a handful of colors and/or patterns we’d recommend for this level of dining. The pattern is easy. There needn’t be one. At least not a perceptible one. Go with a plain weave, twill, or grenadine to complement your plain weave suit and shirt. The color options are a bit more intricate. Many mean wearing a navy suit would opt for a blue tie which 9 times out of 10 is a good choice, but it’s also a predictable one. Since anywhere from 60%-70% of neckties produced in the world are made with a blue ground in them it’s no wonder why it’s so popular. However, blue is best during the day and for business, not pleasure and since your suit is navy it would border on an overdose of the color.
Another common choice is red. Red is a bold and brash color and says that the wearer is passionate and confident. Again another good choice for day, for business and when you need to be taking seriously, but too harsh and loud after 6pm in an environment of tranquility. Browns and greens are out of the question as well since they lend themselves to either country pursuits or casual weekend wear. Neither of which is the image you wish to portray to your fair lady.
Black is another choice and is probably the most qualified so far, but still not our first choice. A black silk knit would work well as long as the suit is truly navy and the tie is truly black. Anything washed out will look more gray than black and won’t wear well. Many black ties have a sheen about them under artificial light that can give it a green tint. The black silk knit would be the better option minimizing sheen and maximizing formality.
Silver is a fitting choice as well. Silver is one of the few colors that marries well with day and evening attire hence the ability to wear it for a wedding as well as a night on the town. Solid should be the pattern of choice. No fuss and no fancy. Keep in mind that silver is different from gray. Gray is merely a lighter shade of black, while silver is a color all its own. The only drawback to silver is that against a white shirt it may be “lost in the sauce” so to speak and not make itself known on the chest of the wearer. Overall it’s a solid choice.
Still there are other options that have a bit more life and will show off your sartorial prowess. Two options come to mind. Burgundy and purple. Neither of these may top the list for most men, which is all the more reason you should consider them. Burgundy, crimson, maroon etc are all part of the red family, but they aren’t “red”. They don’t remind you of a presidential candidate. Instead, they conjure up thoughts of cozy fall evenings and give off an air of maturity, confidence and grace. These shades are softer on the eye than red, more inviting under artificial light, and more understated in natural light.
Purple, eggplant or Mulberry are colors highly overlooked by most men. We’ve spoken of the merits of purple ties in the past. It doesn’t get the same stigma as pink, but it is still somehow neglected. Lavender, a kissing cousin to purple, flatters every man’s skin tone. However, lavender is best worn during the day and a deep, saturated purple is best worn at night. Purple is the color of royalty. It was and still is worn today in the robes and capes of kings and queens. Solomon who was the wisest man who ever lived draped himself in it. A strong purple against a white shirt and an ink navy suit will give off the regal tones, an aura of gentleness and will calm the lady across from you as if your presence alone wasn’t already doing the job.
In the end we're sure you’ll make the best choice for your affair. Bon appetit.