Skip to content

Dear God, did he really say this?

Soon afterwards he met Susan Senior, daughter of a director of the Cunard shipping line and granddaughter of Lord Joicey, a wealthy Northumbrian coal-owner. “I probably met her at a party,” he told an interviewer. “As long as you had a dinner jacket and a pair of white tails you had a good time in those days. There were a lot of parties and a lot of girls around.”

White tails? What was he, a band leader?

Now begins the more complex task. What is it that the Times obituary writer has managed to mis-transcribe?

I think it’s “white tie tails” that is meant, such tails, of course, being black.

The other explanation is that I’m too far out of that world – which I am – and so have missed that the with it drop the word tie in the phrase.

7 thoughts on “Dear God, did he really say this?”

  1. Button shirt with a longer back end and short tails, so that it wouldn’t pop out of the pants doing obsolete obeisances to Marms with Money and Connections.
    Needed because dinner jackets ( prescribed for fancy “informal” parties) tend to be on the sort side, and don’t prevent Plumber’s Cleavage when you do that in a normal shirt.

    The more you know…

  2. You mean ‘Formal’ (White Tie) and ‘Semi-Formal’ (Black Tie). Or as our trans-Atlantic cousins would say, Tuxedo and Tails.

  3. The Dinner Jacket does not have tails; so one has a DJ for semi-formal dinners/dances and a pair of “tails” to go with one’s white tie for the more formal parties. The error of the “Times” writer was to interject “white”.

  4. I suspect the error was to interject “tails”.

    I would describe the two outfits as respectively “black tie” (for the DJ) and “white tie” (for the whole tails thing – it’s vastly worse than just the tail coat: it’s the solid fronted shirt and impossible collar that are truly ghastly).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *