? Truly, the Indispensible Blog - What to Wear: a guide for the perplexed

The Indispensible Blog

Nov 11

Written by: Tom Jackson
11/11/2022 1:49 PM 

Americans are less formal than our British cousins.  But, that truism aside, even here, stateside, there are nevertheless times where a fellow should consider wearing a black suit, a tuxedo, or even the more posh Morning Suit or White Tie. Dress at Churchill Lodge meetings will vary: we often meet at member homes so we sometimes opt for "business casual" wear in the summer; members will wear a sportcoat unless the meeting is held outside on a hot day.  When that is the case, golf attire (shorts and a polo) is encouraged.  So, we have a wide palette of options to consider. As the weather cools, some may opt for the de rigour black "Masonic suit", and we suggest evening wear for formal events. If unsure, a meeting invitation will suggest what to wear, or you might ask the Secretary.

Rule One

ALWAYS, the first rule we follow is that the comfort of our guests is paramount.  (That means, "the most important thing")

Thus, guests and members will never be made to feel uncomfortable if they come under-dressed or overdressed.  This is an Etiquette rule that is often overlooked. But we read the book and know that a true gentlemen shows his breeding by ensuring a kindly reception of those he meets.  

Rule Two

Check the calendar.  In humid Minnesota our summer meetings often include time socializing outdoors, or at member homes.  Golf wear during the summer months is a terrific choice.  If the evening is cooler, one should wear a sportcoat and long trousers. If the event is a formal meeting in a lodge hall or dining hall, wear a black suit.

Rule Three

It is always appropriate to wear a black "Masonic suit," which in the US is a two-piece black suit, with long, black tie, or if one is feeling rather British, add to it a black, buttoned waistcoat. 

While the black suit is surprisingly adaptable for formal events, and obviously for weddings and funerals, it may not be convenient to switch from one's daytime clothing if you are attending to lodge duties after your workday. A business suit should be fine, or whatever you have worn to the office. We'd rather you attend the meeting, than skip it over fear of wearing the wrong thing. 

Stepping up another, er, notch, Tuxedos, with either a notched or shawl lapel, over black trousers or alternatively, with charcoal striped "jaguar" trousers, may add a certain panache to your look.

Pictured at right, courtesy of Lipman and Sons of London, is a dinner tuxedo, notch collar, worn with black trousers. Officers and ritualists of many Minnesota lodges opt for tuxedos for degree work or formal dinners. When in a lodge meeting, the apron is worn OVER the tuxedo, suitcoat or sportcoat. Collars and jewels may be appropriate, and local custom would dictate whether a jeweled collar ought to be worn (in a grand lodge banquet, for example), or where a slightly more subdued pocket jewel would be more appropriate (at dinner with a group of Masons.) You've earned the jewel, you get to wear the jewel.

In America, a tuxedo is usually the apex of formalwear. 

Ah... But Churchill Lodge is anything but "usual". 

In the follow-up post, titled, "What to Wear: On Beyond Zebra!" I explain some of the alternatives to a "basic tuxedo", which our members have requested we explore..

**Some of our Jewish readers may note with humor the title of this post, a riff on an old theme.

Copyright ©2022 Tom Jackson

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