Remington Steele: Opting Out of Black Tie



Black tie events these days are mostly “black tie optional”. The best-dressed men would only wear a dinner jacket to such events, but a dark solid suit is a stylish choice for those who opt out of the dinner jacket. Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele, in the first series episode of Remington Steele titled “Etched in Steele”, wears a charcoal three-piece suit to a black tie party. Considering the way Mr. Steele looks over the people at the event when he arrives, he probably didn’t expect the party to be black tie. Steele is rarely underdressed, and he is actually known to overdress. Nevertheless, Steele would be appropriately dressed in his dark charcoal suit for an event where black tie is optional. Anyone who comes dressed like Steele to a black tie optional event would be a very well-dressed—though still not the best-dressed—gentleman.


The charcoal of Steele’s suit is so dark that it looks black in dim lighting and only shows its true colour when up against true black. A dark navy suit would serve the same purpose at a black tie optional event, and may even be preferable due to its richer colour. Though Steele wears a three-piece suit, a two-piece suit would have been just as appropriate for a black tie optional event.


Steele’s button two suit jacket has narrow pagoda shoulders with roped sleeve heads and a clean chest with a suppressed waist. It has slanted flap pockets, three-button cuffs and double vents. The notched lapels have a steep gorge, a characteristic of 1980s suit jackets, but both the gorge and button stance are at classic heights. Overall, the suit jacket has a classic cut with timeless and balanced proportions. The waistcoat has five buttons, and Steele leaves the bottom button open to follow tradition. The trousers have a flat front and straight legs with plain hems. Steele unfortunately wears the trousers with a belt, which leaves a lump under the waistcoat. Due to the suit’s dark colour and quality of the DVD, the lump is hardly noticeable.


Steele wears the only colour shirt that would be appropriate at a black tie optional event: solid white. It’s really the best colour shirt for any dressy evening occasion, though cream works slightly better for those with a warmer complexion. The shirt has a point collar worn with a gold collar pin, a front placket and double cuffs. Steele’s tie is red with small tan polka dots. Red is a great accent colour for the evening, and it’s the only bold colour that can be traditionally worn along with the black and white of black tie. Red is a classic colour for cummerbunds, and James Bond twice wears a red carnation with his dinner jackets. The only colour that would have been better for Steele’s tie is silver. Black can look rather funereal with a dark three-piece suit, but it’s not an inappropriate choice either for black tie optional. The small tan polka dots in Steele’s red tie coordinate with Steele’s gold collar pin and cuff links. The red silk pocket square coordinates with the tie but lacks the tie’s polka dots to avoid the dreaded matching tie and pocket square. It is folded in sort of a winged puff, but it looks more circular, rather like the red carnations that Bond wears.


Steele’s usual choice of black slip-on shoes is very Bond-like, though it’s not the most appropriate choice for a three-piece suit, especially not in the evening. Though Steele wears his slip-ons well, black cap-toe or plain-toe oxfords would be the ideal choice.


  1. Whenever I see “black tie optional” on an event invitation I always exercise that option! Since I really only get one or two opportunities a year to wear black tie I have to jump on them.
    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this episode, but I don’t believe that Steele was an invited guest, so his ignorance of the dress code isn’t surprising, but the character is so well-dressed by nature that his look as seen here is one that is appropriate for almost any situation.

    And something completely unrelated, I think that’s Ferris Bueller’s dad in the top picture!

  2. “Though Steele wears a three-piece suit, a two-piece suit would have been just as appropriate for a black tie optional event”.

    Also dinner jackets can have the waistcoat (or cummerbund).
    If anything a red tie is little appropriate.
    Navy would be better.

    • Dinner suits have a much different kind of waistcoat. A two-piece suit actually ends up looking more like a dinner suit. There isn’t much difference in formality between a two-piece and three-piece suit either.

    • Yes,you have right.
      I think that for a black tie optional event.a double breasted solid blue or charcoal or a single breasted with peak lapes can work very well.
      The key is the shirt (white) and the tie (navy, or a black and white tiny houndstooth).

  3. You’d have to be very dogmatic about black tie rules to turn away such a well dressed fellow. And, even if they wanted to, I’m sure Steele could dream up some malarkey to get the beautiful Laura and himself past the door staff. The collar pin seals the deal for me, even though the shirt collar would probably look just fine without it. Of course, it’s too distinctive and flashy for Bond.

  4. Matt,
    Deeply dark colors of midnight blue, charcoal and dark navy can be set with burgundy tie like that suit? Or only charcoal can be?
    The problem is, may ultra deeply dark blue color like black but blue be clashed by red-like colors?


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