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Formal attire can give you license to thrill

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By Janet Bennett Kelly
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Heartthrob Daniel Craig, aka 007, looks doubly dashing in a tuxedo, on screen in “Skyfall” or off. As mens' partywear trended more-fitted and formal in the season of New Year's and inaugural festivities, now's the time to add black tie to your closet. Jack O'Connor, men's style director at J. Crew, offers a couple of pointers: The jacket should hug the shoulder with a high, close-fitting armhole. Matching slim pants should break slightly above the shoe. “It's impossible to get this from a rental,” O'Connor says. Here, suggestions for going formal.

• Bump up sartorial splendor with a classic scent. Winning over noses of both genders since 1916, the Italian fragrance Acqua di Parma was a favorite of Cary Grant, another actor who knew how to wear a tuxedo with grace and ease. Cardamom, cedar wood and pink pepper added to the original lemon, lavender and rosemary blend give a more potent perfume. Colonia Assoluta, $86 for 1.7 ounces, at select department stores, and

• Wear a navy velvet jacket with black-satin lapels and single-button closure from Mr Porter's Acne evening-wear collection for a slim, up-to-date look. Underneath, O'Connor advises, “look for a crisp, white shirt with narrow pleats and a classic point collar, long enough that it stays tucked in when you sit down.” Pair with Acne's tapered-fit wool and mohair tuxedo trousers ($450) with side satin stripes. $750 at

• Men's clothing for women figured large on fall runways, following a long tradition of women poaching from guys' closets. Think Chanel and then Yves St. Laurent's “le smoking” — a black tuxedo for women — introduced in 1966. Pair Ralph Lauren's menswear-inspired jacket with matching pants, or dress it down with denim for casual occasions. $185,

• A black silk bow tie is the traditional choice, but burgundy adds color and personality. (Note: Forgo the rookie, ready-made bow tie. Learn how to knot one yourself.) Mr Porter's “The Tux” iPad application will walk you through every step. Bow tie, $60, also available in black and gray at Brooks Brothers stores and

Janet Bennett Kelly is a writer for The Washington Post.



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