News | Bell & Barnett
February 23, 2015

The Tux and the Tails

The tuxedo. Or is it a dinner jacket? What is it? Why are there different types? Is there a difference between black tie and white tie events? Are there different types of black tie events? And why can’t I just wear that black suit to a wedding? All the mysteries of the elegant tuxedo will be revealed!

So first things first: defining the pesky things. For most people out there, “tuxedo” or “dinner jacket” usually is a synonym for a black suit blazer or jacket and its matching trousers. Whilst there are similarities, one of the major distinguishing features of a tuxedo is the presence of satin, which will be located on the lapels, the buttons, the pocket lining, and the stripe along the side of the pants. They also have either one or two buttons (one button is traditional, but two is becoming more acceptable), although the double breasted variant naturally features more buttons. Meanwhile, suit jackets do not include satin and suit pants do not have a satin stripe – and the buttons are usually plastic.

Some other things to note about dinner jackets and black tie events: you should never wear a belt with them (stick with suspenders and a vest or cummerbund); said waistcoat must be a low-cut variety, or a cummerbund is equally acceptable; high quality leather black shoes are an absolute must (don’t turn up in any vaguely black pair of shoes – make them really good quality). Furthermore, a formal shirt is preferred over a plain white one – the shirt will still be impeccable white of course, but with a piqué or plait pattern instead of a plain or herringbone one. The dress shirt may have studs, and will almost certainly have cufflinks – so make sure they are suitably timeless and stylish (no is not the time for novelty cuffs!). And, naturally, the bowtie should match the velvet of the lapels (in regards to shine).

Now, if you are in the unfortunate position of not being able to afford a tuxedo, then do not wear a black suit with a bowtie and hope for the best – it looks silly. If you absolutely must go to a black tie event with a regular suit, wear a black necktie – it is better to look slightly underdressed with dignity rather than trying (failing) to convince the world that your plain suit is a tuxedo.

Tuxedos like these are worn to black tie events, which are the second highest level of formal wear that exists in the Western world. Usually an event will state whether you should wear a tuxedo or not, and you can often read in between the lines if the event doesn’t explicitly say “black tie” (for example, if you’re going to a wedding at a particularly prestigious location with lots of top brass making an appearance, then it is pretty safe to assume black tie at a minimum.

There is one type of black tie that is drastically different from the standard: tropical or warm weather black tie. This is when the dinner jacket is an off-white instead of black, and is seen as slightly less formal than the dinner jacket counterpart. However, there are still rules to be followed here which should be followed lest you fall into the trap of looking overly flashy and tacky. Stick to natural fabrics, although you can move away from the warmer wool (cotton is an acceptable alternative, but there must be no synthetics). The trousers and bowtie are always black, so the end result can be a very stylish contrast between the jacket and the trousers. This style is also a daytime wear, so it shouldn’t be worn after the afternoon.

Finally, we should turn our attention to the highest form of formality that exists in the modern world: white tie events. Unlike black tie events, which can have a little bit of leeway, the rules for white tie events are strict and cannot have deviation. There are two types of white tie: the formal day wear, and the evening white tie. Both have subtle differences, and shall be (briefly) overviewed here.

First of all will be formal day wear. Like the tropical black tie attire, formal day wear is slightly less formal but also slightly freer than its evening counterpart. The coat is still black (although a different style – the morning coat with tails), but unlike the all black tuxedo or evening wear, the trousers are often a charcoal or grey colour with black stripes. The waistcoat can be off-white, grey or even black, although the last of these options should be only reserved for more sombre occasions. The white shirt should be a detachable collar, and more often than not a turn-down collar. Cufflinks and studs are still the accepted, and a four-in-hand tie should be worn.

Finally we arrive at evening wear. The tailcoat should have matching trousers with a satin stripe down the side. The tailcoat should not be closable but still fit the shape of the body perfectly (which will probably mean having to spend extra money on purchasing tailored tailcoats). The shirt should always be stiff in the bosom and the same piqué pattern as the tuxedo shirt. The white vest should be low cut and not go below the front of the tailcoat. A white bowtie and white gloves are also essential. Finally your shoes must be black patent shoes with black dress socks. This cannot be deviated from without looking tacky.

And there we have it: the most formal dressing styles in the Western world. The tuxedo and the tailcoats have been demystified once and for all! Good luck with dressing up gentlemen, and keep being classy.

January 16, 2015

It's a New Year - Time for a New Look and a New You

new stylesWell, now that the New Year’s parties are over, it is time to get back to work with a fresh look. If you’ve gotten a new job or a promotion going into the New Year, you need to look professional and stylish. Even if you’re going back to the same job, there’s no time like New Year to freshen up your look – after all, having people view you in a different light could be the difference between getting and not getting that promotion. Bell & Barnett are here with a variety of tips on how to look great for the new year without... Continue Reading →

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December 19, 2014

Taking a Bowtie - Advice on When and Where to Wear Bowties

Bowties are cool! And more importantly, like pocket squares, they are increasingly being seen as acceptable and classy additions to formal and even smart casual wear. But, like all forms of fashion, there are some definite things you should be doing, alongside several recommendations. After all, you've decided to add some class to your look - you probably should know how to do it right!

First of all, know your types: the self, or free tie; the pre-tied, and the clip on. For that proper, classy appearance, you should probably with a free tied bowtie. Although it may be tricky at first (practice before hand, ladies and gentlemen), the reward is great - class and style. That being said, pre-tied bowties are being seen as increasingly seen as acceptable in certain circles. And whilst it wouldn't be advised to go to a cocktail party with a pre-tied or (Heaven forbid) a clip on bowtie, for a casual night with friends, there is nothing wrong with wanting to spruce up your outfit with a stylish bowtie like Bell & Barnett's wide variety of festive bowties.

The second piece of advice that should be made available is to know why you are wearing a bowtie, and what the event is. Traditionally, bowties are worn with tuxedos or make appearances at black and white tie events. As the name suggests, the bowties in black tie events will (most likely) be black, whilst at white tie events white bowties are an absolute must. However, there can be times when coloured bowties are allowed to black tie events, and that is when you have a slightly less formal summer event (called Warm Weather Black Tie), when you wear an off white suit and can get away with a nice maroon tie.

Formal black and white tie events have traditionally been the preserve of bowties (and let's hope they remain so), but what about semi-formal or even casual gatherings? Good news is that bowties are being seen as increasingly acceptable in these circles - in fact they can often project an air of confidence and style. Semi-casual and casual events also mean you can start experimenting with different colours. Want to wear that Doctor Who-esque bowtie (hopefully sans the fez), or that particularly wild bowtie that's been gathering dust in your wardrobe? Go for it, but make sure it compliments the rest of your outfit. Another thing to consider is that the bowtie will make a statement, and that it should be left to make that statement on its own. Therefore when you don the bowtie, make sure your shirt and suit (if you are wearing a suit) are more muted than the bowtie.

Another thing to consider is your size and the size of the lapel - these will help determine how big your bowtie will be. A good rule of thumb is that the bowtie should be the same width as the lapels on your jacket. However, if you have a smaller head, don't wear a large bowtie - it will make you look like a clown. Likewise if you have a larger head, try and stick with a larger tie.

Although the long and the short of it is that you can wear any bowtie whenever you want, there are certainly some highly advised courses of action and recommendations. However, no matter whether you are meeting the Queen for a white tie event or hanging with friends at a party, wear your bowtie with confidence. Confidence is one of the key aspects of wearing the bowtie. Enjoy!

December 18, 2014

Dressing for the Big Day - Wedding Fashion Advice for Men

Congratulations! You're going to get married! Or perhaps a close friend or even just an associate is. You've got your invite (or sent them out), and all of a sudden, it hits you. What should I wear? Should I wear a fancy suit? Men's fashion is pretty unpredictable today, how do I know whether the shirt will be appropriate? Must I dress up fancy? 

Relax gentlemen - for things are not as hectic as some people (perhaps the bride, perhaps even you, the groom) have made out to be. Yes, it is confusing at times, but with some help, you can look great.

First of all, we shall deal with the groom, the most important man at the event. For the love of all that is good and beautiful in this world, spend that extra money and get a suit that actually fits. Having a suit that is too big or small is a faux pas at the best of times. But imagine looking back at your wedding photos and seeing yourself in a suit that goes sailing over hands or that looks ready to burst. Do yourself a favour - that extra money spent on having a crisp, well fitted suit will make life much easier for you and your betrothed.

Second of all, understand the theme. So you and your fiance have decided to hire out the Opera House and are having a white tie event. Then you should really look at a tuxedo with tails (sans top hat perhaps), an overcoat, and a white tie - nothing short of that for a white tie event. Fortunately, most people won't have to worry about that at a wedding, so understanding a black tie or even a semi-formal event is essential: black tie is a tuxedo, and semi-formal have a little bit more leeway (although probably still keep it more traditional - a white suit can look amazing in summer, but that may not be weather or location appropriate, so don't forget that). For a look at some of the fanciest men's suits that would be wedding appropriate, have a look at our Essential or tuxedo ranges.

As the groom, since your choice of shirt is pretty much limited to white or off white/ivory men's dress shirts, your tie and pocket square (should you choose to wear the latter) should be the most independent thing you wear. A bow tie is always a good option - velvet or otherwise (depending on the circumstances naturally), as it brings class and sophistication that a regular neck tie doesn't have. That being said, a classy neck tie can look amazing, provided you know how to match colours (if your wedding has a theme, it would probably be a good idea to stick to it here). And make sure you can tie your own tie - a tacky clip on or pre-tied bow tie looks shockingly bad. So maybe have some practice before hand!

For those of you gentlemen who are guests, then you have a little more flexibility, but not much. Again, if this is to be a white tie event, even a black tie tux is not going to cut it, so find out beforehand what the event will be like (try calling the happy couple or someone close to the preparations if possible, if not then having a quick look at the venue). Remember that overdressing in this case can be just as bad as under-dressing - like women not wearing white, so men's suits should not be of a notably higher level than the groom's. 

The most important thing to remember as a guest is that you are not in the spotlight - the groom (and the bride) are. So don't draw attention to yourself by either overdressing or under-dressing. As the groom, spend that extra money and get a fitted suit - overall, you will look much better than in a rented tux - and understand the theme of the wedding so you can dress appropriately.

Congratulations to the lucky couple, and look classy gentlemen!

December 02, 2014

We care every step of the way

Australian cotton

Bell& Barnett parent company owns the largest Cotton Farm in Australia, Cubbie Station.
Cubbie Station, is the largest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere, located near Dirranbandi, in south west Queensland, Australia. The station comprises 96,000 hectares (240,000 acres).
At Bell & Barnett we have the choice of the best quality cotton from the biggest cotton farm in the Southern Hemisphere. The ability to directly source the highest quality cotton sets us apart from our competitors and ensures the luxurious & silky feel when you wear our shirts. But we do not stop there.
Offices in London and New York ensure the latest fashion and trends are represented in the clothes we provide. Our attention to detail and unrelenting search for perfection on each and every step in the process to bring you the world’s finest suits is unparalleled. We adopt the most advanced world leading technology online and instore. No stone is left unturned.
So there reason our fabrics feel like a breath of fresh air, and lead the way in style and fashion is not by chance it is because we adore our customer and work around the clock and will never be satisfied.
November 21, 2014

All Squared Away - The Art Wearing of Pocket Squares

Well, the pocket square has returned with the vengeance. The problem of course is trying to figure out where and when to wear it. And what you should go for when it comes to matching it – should the tie and pocket square match, or shouldn’t they? Do not be concerned, for here at Bell & Barnett, we will not only be able to give you advice on the pocket square (as well as a brief history), but also point you to our wide variety of stylish pocket squares so you can apply your newfound knowledge immediately!

First, a (brief) history lesson. Pocket squares were originally designed to be practical handkerchiefs (or just kerchiefs in the days of yore), which may have been used as far back as the 14th Century by King Richard II for using a cloth to wipe food away from his mouth after dining. They took off from there really, and became associated with class and sophistication, since only the elite could worry about sanitation. When it comes to being worn in suit jackets, pocket squares were primarily decorative but could be used by a gentleman if the need arose (naturally, a gentleman would try and avoid dirty work or dirty eating habits, so that wouldn’t be too often) although a more practical handkerchief would be used as well. They briefly went out of fashion but have returned, fortunately, to their rightful spot in the blazer or jacket pocket.

Why do we have a history lesson for pocket squares? Understanding the history shows how the pocket square is associated with class and elegance, having long been associated with the aristocracy and wealth. It also helps to understand the way classy gentlemen wear pocket squares. But don’t make the mistake of assuming pocket squares are anything more than decorative in this modern age – silk should really not be used to blow your nose (unless you are so wealthy it doesn’t matter anymore, in which case you can do whatever you want).

In regards to pocket squares, there are very few set rules – it is an art, not a science. There is one crucial rule that should be observed though, and that is: do NOT match your pocket square to your tie exactly. That is really the only major rule – everything else is often up to your personal discretion.

Some tips though: pocket squares can be used to bring attention to a particular colour in your tie or shirt. For example, if your tie has blue and yellow, you can choose either yellow or blue for your pocket square; likewise if you want to look particularly sharp at the board meeting or at a formal dinner, try making your pocket square white to bring out your white shirt. Patterned pocket squares should compliment a patterned tie or shirt, so it creates a certain pleasantness on the eye when worn as an ensemble. Pocket squares are a way of adding extra details to an outfit, and can really be the difference between being well dressed and elegant.

The most important thing to remember, aside from not matching the pocket square to your tie, is to try and put everything in context of your overall look. A pocket square and tie may compliment (not match) each other perfectly, but if they stand out like a sore thumb from your suit, then there are some issues that need to be addressed. Try and avoid having the pocket square as the same colour of your jacket as well – after all, you want to stand out as an elegant man, not to have your efforts disappear into the vast fabric of the suit.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to your personal choice: patterns or plain, which colours you want to bring out in your appearance. Just remember, don’t match the pocket square with the tie, or have it the same as the jacket, and you will look fantastic.

October 24, 2014

In the Navy - Navy Suits

Navy is one of the most versatile colours out there. It is professional as professional can be, but it also can make its way into smart casual attire as well. It is a popular colour, but that does not detract at all from the stylishness and unique level of class that comes with wearing a navy suit.

Navy as a colour implies gentlemanly elegance combined with respectfulness. A man who wears a navy suit to a meeting will notice that he will command everyone's attention; likewise at social events, the same man will be seen as elegant and classy, and not standoffish like he would in a black suit. Navy is versatile and unique in that regard.


Bell & Barnett have a wide variety of high quality navy suits, such as the New York Suit or the Florida Suit. Both of these suits are suitable in work environments or those smart casual events. By either wearing the complete suit, or only pairing the jacket with jeans or smart casual pants, these men's navy suits showcase the versatility and timeless class the navy suit has.

So if you find yourself in need of a suit this spring, rest assured that if you go navy, you’ll be on par with the most stylish men in the world. Navy suits are worn as a way of looking classy and sophisticated without being overly formal in the way black suits are. For a maximum effect, match your navy suit with a striking shirt to stand out from the crowd.

September 29, 2014

Welcome to Bell & Barnett's New Website!

Here at Bell & Barnett, we value the highest quality of products – and now you can see the extent of our commitment to quality in our new website!


Here on this site is our wide range of products, ranging from high quality men’s suit jackets; through to stunning dress shirts; and even a range of pocket squares, scarves and cufflinks. Whether you’re looking at buying a whole new wardrobe, or merely after a few new business shirts to replace some older ones, we have you covered. Because of our values of individuality, character and authenticity, we can guarantee that a visit to Bell & Barnett’s website will never leave you disappointed.


We look forward to sharing our wide variety of products with you all. We know that their quality will speak volumes about Bell & Barnett’s philosophies: how each suit has enough character to have a unique story behind each one; how each dress shirt has enough individuality to make you stand out as the best dressed person no-matter where you go; how all our products are stylish enough to be classy and refined, whilst authentic enough to be “real”, and not simply dull corporate wear. Everything Bell & Barnett does, and all our products, will leave you satisfied and eager to show the world your new suits, shirts or accessories.


Coinciding with the new website, Bell & Barnett are looking forward to the spring fashion in Melbourne, and around Australia more generally. With the races coming up, and everyone wearing their wonderful attire, we anticipate many of you wearing some of our new designs, or even some of our old faithful styles. Time to bring out those stylish tuxedos; those French cuff dress shirts; and those impeccably stylish cufflinks. Whatever your style, make sure you are proud – and you have fun with it all.


Go out there and make your statement – whether you are refined or wild! Have fun at the races and with spring fashion! Enjoy Bell & Barnett’s new website! Enjoy high quality suits, shirts, pants, blazers, and accessories!


Bell & Barnett.