Apr 19, 2012

Sartorial Sensibilities for the Trinity Ball

The traditional Trinity Ball uniform for men.

Toby Evans

The need for a guide to men’s dress for Trinity Ball is a seemingly superficial one considering that the Trinity Ball is considered to be a black tie event. Therefore it should be simple: wear a black tie. However, seeing as the majority of Trinity students are known for pushing the sartorial envelope, we have put some tips together catering for the conservative to the newfangled.

For those among you for whom the last word in elegance is a tucked in shirt and matching socks, you are best advised to stay firmly within the boundaries of tradition. Our recommendation would be to buy or rent a dinner jacket in either black or navy blue along with trousers of the same colour. Shirts should either be white (and by white we mean white) or ivory coloured. This is a simple, elegant look that may not turn any heads, but will definitely allow entry into the ball.


The more daring should opt for a properly fitted double-breasted jacket. They only really suit the very slim or sportsmen looking for a better-proportioned posture. The double-breasted jacket offers a tidy alternative to regular jackets whilst still retaining a traditional flourish.

The shift will remain as elusive as an Irish summer if you do not have a real bowtie. Clip-ons are a definite no. Clip-ons should be the sole preserve of those lacking opposable thumbs. As for ties, solid colour ties are better than any patterned tie. If you choose to wear that pink and yellow floral number belonging to your father that you so often eye up on Christmas Day, you will regret it.

For the more adventurous we recommend splashing out on some colourful accessories. A coloured tie, with matching socks is always good. Although patterned waistcoats will make you look like an extra of only fools and horses at the wedding of your illegitimate daughter. A small bow tie is preferable, as they are much sharper, and in turn neater, than the over-sized Mickey Mouse option.

In the shoe department, simply keep to plain black shoes, polished of course. And on the subject of maintenance, we cannot stress the importance of a crisply ironed shirt, and freshly steamed/pressed jacket and trousers. It will only take you 10 minutes to do so, or else you could ask you mother the night before the ball to do you a solid and iron and press/steam your various garments. It makes all the difference.

If you are determined to inject a bit more colour into your get-up, a red velvet smoking jacket with black lapels adds a debonair air to proceedings. Don’t be tempted by the siren song of a white jacket, you’re not Humphrey Bogart and never will be. Contrary to any evidence you may have gleaned from reality television stars, a t-shirt with a suit drawn on is neither funny nor clever, even if you do think it makes you seem edgy and devil-may-care.

A waistcoat is a nice addition to any suit, the simpler the better. It will also provide that much needed extra layer of warmth that you will so greatly appreciate come half four in the morning, (when your mot is wearing your jacket). If you go for the waistcoat option we highly recommend that you wear it correctly. Commit to the waistcoat, wear with all buttons done up, and sufficiently tightened at the back.

Accessories should be understated; a pair of cufflinks looks nice against a white shirt. Anything goes in the cufflink department, as long as they are actually cufflinks and not safety pins. You’re not in a Sex Pistols cover band, and if you are, the cause has already been lost. Brown Thomas has a large selection of pricey, but attractive cufflinks, otherwise TK Maxx in Stephens Green Shopping Centre is a surprisingly reliable source.

If there is one thing that you should most definitely take away from this guide, it is this: WEAR A CAPE. No longer the sole preserve of Kings and Queens both royal and drag, the cape will elevate you to a realm of sartorial nirvana. A good range can be found at http://www.cloaksofireland.com/. A cape adds so much to any outfit. Not only will it transform you into a untamable wildebeest of fashion, but it will also provide a much needed weather shield for you and your squeeze, should the elements turn against you on the night.

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