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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay,

I seem to remember a thread here about getting tails chopped off of a set of tails. The poster was admonished not to do it because it would turn an otherwise normally servicable black tailcoat into a black mess jacket.

Now, I am a civilian. I haven't put on an army uniform in nine years, and even then I was merely a boy soldier, not an officer or senior NCO. (The closest I ever got to serious status was an appointment as Parade WO during Basic). So I have no ethical entitlement to find a military style uniform and adopt it as if I were entitled to wear gold braid on the sleeves. My father, on the other hand is a decorated officer of the army, so he has a full mess dress uniform which I think looks rather dashing.

However, I own an ivory tailcoat and I'm considering having it converted into a mess jacket. It cost under 50 on Ebay and is 100% polyester. So I'm planning to upgrade tailcoats (find something black on Ebay) and may soon find myself with a surplus set of tails. Can a civilian wear what is essentially a "Prince Charlie" jacket, minus the tails, without gold braid or decorations and still look acceptable at Black Tie occasions?

Now before you start asking, why not just wear your DJ to Black Tie functions, I am in a sartorial quandary every time I attend a fraternity function and find myself surrounded by military uniforms and ill fitting suits purchased from local used clothing shops. Many of my fraternity brothers who aren't military simply wear what they'd wear to an important presentation in their Business Accounting class, which is probably grey or blue and may be paired with a matching tie. So a DJ is often overdressed, even though the event is specified as "Black Tie". But would a mess jacket be overdressed? I'm getting tired of going to events as an alumnus member only to find other alumni showing up in business styled lounge suits or cargo pants and a golf shirt, when I'm wearing a hand tied bow tie, a shawl collarred DJ and a pair of patent leather shoes.

So, long story short, what's better to wear to a function where some military uniforms and some lounge suits will be worn, where the official invite is "black tie". Should I just stick to a traditional DJ? I know a black mess jacket would seem out of place, but perhaps an ivory one would simply be viewed as appropriate for the occasion. I doubt I'll ever be able to wear the ivory tailcoat on a cruise or summer party, unless I acquire one made of wool, as the poly coat is extremely hot (I wore it to a birthday party last two weeks ago and nearly boiled).

Just a thought, and at this late hour, a mess jacket doesn't sound so bad. And if I ever reach my dream of commanding a rifle company, I'll have a civilian jacket welcome at parties.

Thomas
 

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I think Jeeves is on the money here. The Mess Jacket will appear to your military chums that you are trying too hard to be something you are not - or at least it would over here. It also says to me that you are trying too hard on the dress front - something which black tie does away with because it is just right and especially so if you are wearing it with the self-confidence you should be. And definitely not in polyester, you will look like a waiter.

It sounds to me that what you really need to do is to find a regiment in need of an Honorary Colonel - that will give you the Mess Dress entitlement that you really crave. How you do that in Canada I don't know.
 

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Ditch that poly tat ASAP.
Purchase a nice ivory DJ to alternate with your black and you'll be all set for any occasion.

As far as mess dress, as you were a member of the armed services I believe you are entitled to wear it even as a civilian. Several members of my club do so on formal occasions, and some of them were entlisted men. I'm sure your Canadian regimental MD* looks great. But skip the erzatz mess dress re Jeeves.

*Toronto Scottish is one of my favorites.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Funny idea, which I guess is best put to bed.

My grandfather was the honourary colonel of the North Saskatchewan Regiment. Ironically, he was also a colonel in the North Saskatchewan Regiment, so unless I go that route, which could be thirty years from now, I'm out of luck.

That said, I am hunting for a nice ivory jacket. I saw an entry in Wikipedia for civilian mess jackets, but it indicated it was less desireable than a traditional DJ in modern fashion and saw it's heyday in the 30s.

Thomas
 

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^ That's not a mess jacket
Exactly...

My point being that whatever the conventions may or may not be, being mistaken for a waiter has very little to do with what form of evening wear one is attired in these days as hardly anyone knows the "rules". (least of all the catering companies)

Just avoid having a napkin draped over the arm and a tray of drinks...:icon_smile_big:
 

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Exactly...

My point being that whatever the conventions may or may not be, being mistaken for a waiter has very little to do with what form of evening wear one is attired in these days as hardly anyone knows the "rules". (least of all the catering companies)

Just avoid having a napkin draped over the arm and a tray of drinks...:icon_smile_big:
The flaps on the pockets, wing collar, and gloves are a giveaway.
 

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The flaps on the pockets, wing collar, and gloves are a giveaway.
https://www.blacktieguide.com/Classic_Components/Shirt.htm

I'll grant you the gloves, as grey for outdoors only are the official line.

If you really think wing collars and flap pockets (or for that matter notch lapels,even though technically incorrect) count then all I can say is the majority of black tie functions are inhabited by an inordinate amount of waiters (including members of the royal family)...:icon_smile_wink:

It is also quite feasible to have the jacket made as a short "spencer" style without invoking either military or waiter connotations.
 

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https://www.blacktieguide.com/Classic_Components/Shirt.htm

I'll grant you the gloves, as grey for outdoors only are the official line.

If you really think wing collars and flap pockets (or for that matter notch lapels,even though technically incorrect) count then all I can say is the majority of black tie functions are inhabited by an inordinate amount of waiters (including members of the royal family)...:icon_smile_wink:

It is also quite feasible to have the jacket made as a short "spencer" style without invoking either military or waiter connotations.
Again, spot on!
 

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Courage!

First of all, do not let the uncouth intimidate you into dressing down to their level. Buck up and continue to wear black tie. The suggestion that you should invest in an ivory wool dinner jacket is sound if your events go on through the summer months.

Now, as for the poly tails. Some apparently have the idea that polyester is as it was in the 70s, which was pretty awful. Nowadays, it's probably some form of "microfiber" that has such an improved texture that from a moderate distance, say two arms lengths, it is difficult to tell just what it is and it drapes fairly well. They're even making dinner jackets in ivory, instead of stark white, so that one will be even more likely to be fooled into thinking they're wool. Now, if the garment in question is of the latter, you may have something to work with. If the former, toss it.

The bolero style dinner jacket was quite popular in both white and black for a period in the thirties and showed up in quite a few movies, mostly worn by latin actors. There are even a few dark versions I have seen lately, mostly in very trendy mags. My view is: go for it! My caution is that I hope you have a nice ass, because it is definitely going to be shown off, hopefully to advantage. Best to go with high rise trousers, preferably fishtail backed.

I really don't believe that you will be stepping on any service member's feelings, unless you start wearing unearned medals. I believe you will be well received in your rather eclectic soirees, and, if you are not, just don't wear it any more. All of us have, from time to time, made an unfortunate attire choice and have the closets to prove it.
 
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