Manolo says, the Manolo he has received the question from one of his many internet friends.
Dearest Manolo, My name is Lady Prisspott, I am the unofficial fashion advisor to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC. Many of these dear boys, while gifted musically are often found lacking when it comes to a thorough knowledge of men’s evening wear. You see, the chorus wears tuxedos for their concert and many of the gentlemen wear shoes other than that which her Ladyship would find acceptable. Some even have simultaneously demonstrated an unassailable confidence and appalling lack of taste and breeding by wearing black sneakers with their tuxedo. Her Ladyship has prepared for the membership a short primer on formal wear however a thorough and authoritative discussion of the history of men’s evening slippers as well as a guide to the most excruciatingly correct choice of evening footwear has been harder to research. Her Ladyship would greatly appreciate the benefit of Manolo’s encyclopedic knowledge on the subject.
Do not the Manolo get started on the disgraceful state of the modern American formal wear! If the Manolo sees one more pastel ruffle shirt, or the brightly-colored plaid cumberbund and matching bowtie set he will hurl. Especially do not mention the shoes! Ayyyyy! The shoes, the shoes! Such horrors.
Ideally, there is only one type of the shoe that the man should wear with the black or the white tie, it is the opera pump: the low black patent leather slipper with the discreet black gros grain bow (pinched or straight).
This shoe, it is the final, unchanged remenant of the 19th century formal wear, the only item still sometimes worn, that would have been worn by the gentleman who was to be received at the royal court 150 of the years ago.
Such the gentleman he would have appeared in the knee breeches with the silk stockings. Today, the knee breeches they are gone, the cut of the coat it has changed, the neck tie it is different, but the formal shoes, they are the same. And so these they are the original “court shoes”. (The word “pump” for the shoes, it is thus the derivative of the word “pomp”.)
In the general, the American men, when they can be wrestled into the formal wear, do not wear the opera pump, mostly because they believe it to be too sissified for the mucho macho man to wear. In such cases, the plain toe, patent leather or highly shined calf blucher or oxford, it is the most appropriate and suitable substitute.
Any other option, it is ridiculous.