In the last essay about Black Tie versus White Tie I received a comment from Angela that inquired: "My husband hates formal bow ties and wears an ascot or cravat instead. Is that ok? What are your thoughts?"
Bearing in mind that I'm not a fashion consultant Angela, and that GQ Magazine might take issue with me, I do have some observations from my long experience in dealing with the rich and famous.
Yes, ascots and cravats most certainly have their place and are acceptable in many situations, especially daytime affairs. But for formal evening events, it's risky. This kind of neck wear can appear stuffy if not arrogant - and it makes the statement "Look at me, I'm different."
Which is absolutely fine - if you are different and deserve to be looked at! Otherwise you might come across as pompous and pretentious, if not altogether ridiculous and absurd.
Rule of thumb: if it's a large event with hundreds of guests, wear the ascot if you wish. But if it's an intimate black-tie dinner party with only a few guests, you'll stand out like a sore thumb. Be sure you deserve that attention and can handle the scrutiny.
In this house I've seen distinguished authors, diplomats and European dignitaries wearing ascots to our black tie events. To their credit, they all carried it off rather well.
And I may get in trouble here, but we have a fun middle-aged divorcee who frequents this house with a different man each time she arrives. On one occasion she famously showed up with a young man not half her age wearing a tuxedo and a white silk ascot - but no shirt. You would think this would cause lifted eyebrows throughout the room, right? But in this older jaded crowd the repeated face lifts eliminate or minimize any reactions requiring the use of facial muscles!
Not to hurt any one's feelings - but in short you kinda have to be somebody to get away with wearing an ascot. Some accomplishment in life that makes you worthy of note - and I hope that makes sense. Here's a link to Goggle's image search for ascots. Just look at all the somebodies who can get away with wearing them.
If you think you're in this category in any way, then by all means guys, get out the ascot. This is America, right? Anything goes, and who am I to judge? But don't come crying to me if you're rebuffed, ignored or laughed at behind your back.
Thanks for dropping in,