Black Tie – The Dress Shirt & Cufflinks

Always choose white and buy an actual dress shirt; a normal shirt will not do.


The better-made formal shirts will have a bib front, i.e. a double layer of fabric at the front where it is exposed by the jacket and ending just above the waist. The bib can be plain, pleated or in the traditional Marcella pique pattern.



Wearing studs instead of the top two-three buttons of the shirt is traditional and good quality dress shirts will have eyelets to accommodate them. However if the buttons are pearl then this is also acceptable.

Top and above respectively: Simon Carter
clear and jet stud sets

Udeshi extreme cutaway shirt from
Eton moderate cutaway shirt,
Angelo Galasso mother of pearl silver cufflinks
available from stockist: 8-10 Hans Road,
London SW3 1RX, tel. 0207 584 3978
Simon Carter onyx bar cufflinks.

Simon Carter has a set of five clear or jet studs you can add to your shirt.

What style of collar?

Before WWII, stiff shirts with winged detachable collars were common, but now the modern dress shirt for black tie events is softer with a classic turn-down collar and French cuffs. Although in the US they favour the semi-stiff shirt with an attached wing collar, in the UK a wing collar is usually for white tie events only.

Collar styles for black ties are the spread (more formal) and the semi–spread, because both suit a bow tie.

The spread collar (with a wider distance between the collar points) suits slim men or men with long thin faces as the horizontal line of the spread balances out the vertical line of the face. The Udeshi extreme cutaway is their signature collar style and sweeps back as far as possible without it disappearing altogether. Priced £185 (December 2010).

The more rounded face should go for the semi-spread as the horizontal line of the collar is not as prominent. If you have a very round or wide face go for the longest collar tips you can find on a semi-spread collar, as these create vertical lines which will balance more with your face.

Eton shirts have moderate cutaway and classic point collars with longer collar points. Priced £110–£130 (December 2010).


Cufflinks should be monochrome and, if wearing dress studs, should either match or harmonise with them.

Go for stylish mother of pearl such as these Angello Galasso silver cufflinks or these understated onyx bars from Simon Carter:


Here’s our Guide to Black Tie series to help you create the ultimate outfit – click the links below:

The Dinner Suit

The Dress Shirt & Cufflinks

The Bow Tie

The Shoes (& Socks)

The Accessories

The Overcoat



















Karen Grace is a Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for and fashion writer for

She studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International.

For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on and
07787 800 390


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