Once a year, we hold a festive dinner – a memorable evening of delicious food, good company, and inspiring conversation to signify the winding down of another year and the ramping up of the holiday season.
This year, we took our places at the long table of RIJKS – acclaimed chef Joris Bijdendijk’s Michelin-star restaurant nestled beside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. We brought together a group of great men and delved deeper into this code we call black tie, exploring personal style and the edges of etiquette. We invited eleven guests from different walks of life to come and find themselves within the formality. It began with a toast from Arno Kantelberg.
“The dress code ‘black tie’ demands a level of attire that is the same worldwide, though it may be given different names in different places. A ‘smoking jacket’ in The Netherlands, is what the ‘tuxedo’ is to the Americans, and the ‘dinner jacket’ to the Brits.
We have Great Britain and the rather curvy Edward VII to thank for this. One day, deciding his ‘tails’ were too uncomfortable while sitting for dinner. So, he designed something new. Cut the backside, elongated the front, changed the usual peak lapels common for a tailcoat in those days to shawl lapels. The dinner jacket was born. A jacket, quite simply, made for dinner.
It wasn’t until American millionaire James Potter met with the King for dinner that it became a ’tuxedo’. He returned to his hometown New York with the new Edward-inspired jacket, wearing it proudly to the Tuxedo Park country club, where it quickly became something of a club uniform. As is often the way with visionary style, high society in America initially rejected the movement – dismissing it as an inappropriate style worn by young eccentrics. But eventually, it took off as an informal summer suit, and settled in as formal dress. Coined in homage to the very club who first recognized its charm.
The ‘smoking jacket’ came into play as people realized their suits didn’t fare well after their post-dinner smoke break. A jacket was introduced to be worn solely for that well-deserved break. Long jackets at first, but soon they became shorter like the dinner jacket and the tuxedo. From the very beginning, made from thick and decadent fabrics. Like some of the velvet styles seen around our table today.
It’s fortunate this jacket is laden with so much history, so many variations in the details and styling that have morphed and changed over the years we can look to for inspiration. A man has multiple personalities within him (don’t ask me exactly how many), but I include myself in this assessment. And one of the beautiful things about clothing and perhaps even the most beautiful thing, is that a jacket, a tie, a pocket square can bring out the very best in us.”
It was a sentiment that echoed in the restaurant that night, with every guest standing confidently in the height of refinement, yet no two looking the same. The men had been asked to each curate their own look for the evening – something for the festive season that resonated with them personally while playing within the bounds of the code.
As explained by our Amsterdam Style Advisors Bastiaan and Ricardo, also in attendance, it could be as simple as silk on your lapels or the fabric of your buttons, a stripe on your trouser, gold in your cufflinks. The centerpiece, of course, the bow tie. The preference always being to tie it yourself, imbuing it with yet more character. Each of our guests created something original and reflective of their personal style then came together to converse, drink, debate, and be merry. We think writer Mo Anwar captured it best with his words at the end of the night.
EXECUTIVE CHEF OF RIJKS, WILS & WILS BAKERY CAFE
Joris opted for a twist on the traditional palette – the hero piece is a luxurious midnight blue jacket in pure cotton velvet with satin lapels. Paired with navy trousers, a wrinkle-resistant tuxedo shirt, and a satin bow tie to match his lapel.
SOUL SINGER & SONGWRITER
One word: smooth. This effortlessly refined outfit included a sleek black wool-mohair tuxedo – in his signature style – a double-breasted jacket with a wide peak lapel. With a range of classic pieces to complete the look: a white cotton shirt, black satin bow tie, and a pair of patent tuxedo shoes.
JOURNALIST & CREATIVE CONSULTANT
Luxuriously velvety and vibrant red, this statement smoking jacket is Mo’s ideal black-tie attire. He completed his look with lustrous classics: an ottoman-striped tuxedo trouser and a shiny white sateen shirt. Styled here with his own moré bow tie and shoes.
ART DEALER, HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR
A fan of the classics, Jan’s black-tie style is a timeless look with each element carefully curated to compliment one another. The black S120 wool tuxedo with an ottoman shawl lapel is paired with a white cotton shirt, a flat-front tuxedo trouser with matching ottoman stripe, a matching black ottoman bow tie, and his own loafers.
SALES DIRECTOR AT ATELIER MUNRO
A bold take on black tie, Jasper created a full-color tuxedo with black contrast detailing. The superfine Solaro wool is a holiday-inspired sage green and features a festive shine. All styled classically with a crease-resistant tuxedo shirt, black satin bow tie, and black patent tassel loafers.
ART HISTORIAN, TV HOST & CURATOR
Paul’s approach can only be described as understated elegance, with a double-breasted navy wool-mohair suit with wide peak lapel in an ottoman finish. The look was styled flawlessly with a matching bow tie, white pleated tuxedo shirt, and a pair of his own shoes.
ENTREPRENEUR & PODCAST HOST
Maarten curated for the occasion with color and comfort in mind. The velvet jacket in a deep eggplant hue is made with dance-approved stretch and paired with a luxuriously soft S150 woolen tuxedo trouser. He tied it all together with a classic white shirt, black velvet bow tie, and his favorite shoes from home.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT
Black tie without the tie, Joachim curated a contemporary all-black ensemble. The double-breasted mohair-wool tux features black ottoman on the lapels, jacket buttons, and trouser stripes. He switched a traditional shirt for a cozier black cashmere-silk crew neck knit and finished the look with black velvet plain toe loafers.
STORE LEAD AT THE AM HOUSE AMSTERDAM
An unforgettable look combining decadence with a pop of color. Bastiaan went for head-to-toe velvet: a midnight blue velvet dinner jacket with a satin wide peak lapel, navy wool-mohair trousers with a satin stripe, velvet bow tie, and velvet plain toe loafer. Styled with a classic white shirt with special Neapolitan cuffs.
STYLE ADVISOR AT THE AM HOUSE AMSTERDAM
A timeless and tonal look for the occasion. Ricardo layered deep blue hues, pairing a crisp 3-piece tuxedo with elements of texture and shine: a midnight blue sateen shirt, silk knit tie, and shiny black patent tuxedo shoes. His twist? Ditching a bow tie for his own midnight blue knit tie from home.
The collection of black-tie attire is now available to order. Browse their made-to-measure looks to inspire your own.