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Interpreting the Dress Code

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Interpreting the Dress Code

I love shows like The Crown and Downton Abbey. In fact, there have been times when it’s more like an obsession. It’s not as much the actual shows themselves, but the time period they represent. Everything about the way people lived is brilliant to me. Royal. Regal. Well-mannered and well-heeled, with more than a bit of intrigue. But one of my favorite parts was obviously how they dressed and, to be more specific, how they dressed for dinner. It was basically, black tie every night.

That would be insane to me. To live like that in a world where everybody else is living like that too. Which is one of the many reasons I was so excited about this trip to Scotland. There was a group of 30 or so of us going who were all really into dressing well. Much of the trip was to take place on a train, and every dinner was going to be a variation on black tie. In general, the trip was largely designed as a Dressed Fest, which was a dream come true for a guy like me.

Tartan and tweed were highly encouraged. And as far as I was concerned, a little artistry and creativity is always welcome. I love Highland Tartans. They're all I use. So day one, I arrived at the train in a pair of Royal Stewart Tartan pants and one of my custom denim western shirts, and the trip was on! It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm on display from my fellow travelers and I was already looking forward to what dinner would be like.

I can’t really call it a theme, but each night, some type of twist on black tie was encouraged and the first night called for a smoking jacket. Stephen had one. But I didn’t. So right off the bat, it was time to figure out an outfit that would be appropriate, and yet, unapologetically me.

Most people think of a smoking jacket as a fancy, robish velvet jacket with frogging and toggling and lots of intricate stitch work, but really, in the industry, a smoking jacket is just a velvet blazer. Which, still, I didn’t have. So I opted for a creative black tie approach, with a Scottish twist of course.

My idea started with a Royal Stewart Tartan jacket. Hard to go wrong with that. The rest was black tie, with just a little edge. White shirt. Black trousers. Black bow tie, with a skull and bones pattern. And velvet slippers to match. It was amazing.

But maybe the most awesome thing was looking around the train to see how everyone had interpreted the dress code. It was beautiful to look across the car and see all kinds of tartans, elaborate robes, outfits on the quirky side, like mine and plenty of stately, more traditional approaches, like the outfit Stephen wore.

It was stunning. It was like a personality test come to life which honestly, is one of the things I feel like a lot of guys miss out on when it comes to dressing. They tend to dress to fit in, rather than to stand out, and yes, to show off a bit. It’s fun, not feminine. It’s something I’m hoping to get more guys to understand as 18th Amendment moves forward. There is always a dress code. The trick is to understand that it’s meant to be interpreted, not followed blindly. That’s where style takes over.