Calion

Starting Member
I notice that "Cracking the Dress Codes” has different definitions for the various degrees of menswear than most places (indeed, anywhere else I’ve seen) nowadays. For instance, “formal” usually means tuxedo and black tie, not tailcoat, which is usually referred to as “ultra-formal” if it’s mentioned at all.

I was wondering what the sources for these definitions are, as I’ve been unable to find another source that agrees with these standards.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

Mute

Senior Member
One page from Esquire isn’t much to go on. Is there anything more substantial or authoritative?
Here's another primer besides Andy's that gives references and reinforces the information in Cracking The Dress Code:


This link in particular discusses the level of formality:


I've never heard anyone who knows what they're talking about use the term "ultra-formal."
 

richard warren

Senior Member
I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you.

The use of the word “formal” does not really fit the category of dress sought to be described. Formal means simply conforming to form and as such could refer to what you wear to play golf just as easily as what you wear to a ball, although of course the form for a ball is more circumscribed than the form for golf, which is what gave rise to the usage of the word formal to mean “level of dressiness.”

I refer you to the works of Alfred Korzybski for an explication of how words work, or sometimes don’t.

In the context of modern America, “formal” means a “tux,” which in turn means a black suit with some degree of satin trim, while “dinner jacket” means a white dinner jacket, evening clothes are referred to as “white tie,” sometimes with tails.

People mostly wear shorts to play golf, even though they should know better.
 

TKI67

Super Member
There was a time when people in certain circles dressed for dinner, putting on starched white pique and tails. The arrival of the dinner suit, now usually called a tuxedo, signaled introducing an air of informality. Terms like formal or semi-formal were not needed. I believe Andy's guide captures current usage very well.

I think it is fascinating to think of a dinner suit, a starched pleated shirt with links and studs, braces, a cummerbund, a bowtie, and patent shoes as a concession to comfort! To think that in roughly a century we have progressed to old shorts, bare feet, and a soft tee shirt being what many deem to constitute comfort!
 
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