Men's Tuxedos at the Oscars

The Oscars & Men’s Tuxedos

In 2012, we looked closely at the men’s tuxedos at the Oscars and it seems like 2014 was yet another low point. In the following, I would like to show you this year’s outfits, a short guide on how a tuxedo should be worn, followed by good & bad examples from 2014.

Although I am personally not a fan of award ceremonies, I thought it would be interesting to look at the evening attire worn by the gentlemen. These days, celebrities are among the few people around who have reason to don a tuxedo frequently. So, how did they do? In the past, I have seen everything from funny to unique, flamboyant to spot on.

Men’s Tuxedos at the Oscars 2014

Pharrel Williams showed up in a tuxedo jacket with shorts. While this is certainly attention grabbing, I doubt this find will find many followers. Interestingly, he went to the lengths of picking out shirts studs and opted for a jacket with double button.

Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors and in House of Cards, he really shows why. However when it comes to clothes, he has never been somebody I looked up to because his suits were mostly average in fit and they lacked details. This time he choose a dark blue tuxedo and while I like the color the poor execution with pre-tied bow tie and big wristwatch and poor fit ruin the outfit for me.

The fit of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s tuxedo is decent, the bow tie looks interesting, and if you disregard the long sleeves and the wristwatch, this look could have been great if he had worn a vest or cummerbund.

Brad Pitt wore a noteworthy shawl collar tuxedo with grosgrain faced lapels. His shirt features regular mother of pearl buttons that remind me too much of a day shirt even though it was made of marcella piqué.

Darren de Gallo choose a 2 button peaked lapel tuxedo without pocket square and buttonhole on the lapel. Unfortunately, you can see his shirt peaking out but that’s what happens if you skip the waistcoat or cummerbund.

Steve McQueen pulled of an interestingly knotted bow tie and a peak lapel with a bespoke feel.

Jonah Hill pulled off a more classic look than two years ago in regard to his colors but tuxedos should neither have notch lapels nor flap pockets.

The same is true for Mr. Sudeikis. He even buttoned both of the front buttons which you should never do if the jacket has such a low buttoning point. Overall, this Prada outfit is really underwhelming, but what can you expect from a big fashion house these days…

Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey wore off white dinner jackets and while this is per se a good thing, the fit of Matthew McConaughey’s jacket was very poor and looked like it came just from the rental store. A lapel should never fold like that and it just makes you look cheap. Jared Leto’s jacket fit better, but the red pre-tied bow tie and the flaps are two aspects he could have done better.

Of all these pictures, Tom Ford is once again the best dressed, however he wasn’t at the Oscars but at the Vanity Oscars Party. His lapels are really wide but that is his style.

The Tuxedo

First of all, it is not surprising to see a complete absence of white tie – though, with so many long evening dresses, the dinner jacket / tuxedo would traditionally not be considered to be appropriate attire for such an event. Nevertheless, the tuxedo is as formal as it gets during the Oscars, with regards to men’s clothing.

How To Wear A Tuxedo

Generally, there are a number of guidelines for what a proper tuxedo should look like:

  1. Black or midnight blue cloth – often barathea or plain cloth, sometimes with a bit of mohair for an elegant sheen
  2. Classic options are: (1) Peaked lapels covered in black silk satin, repp or moiré with a single button or a double-breasted front, or (2) a shawl collar with black silk and single button closure
  3. Ventless Jacket
  4. Cummerbund or waistcoat with a single-button jacket
  5. Neither a cummerbund nor a waistcoat with a double-breasted jacket, but then you must not unbutton it – the waist must never be exposed!
  6. Wear suspenders – never a belt!
  7. A galon stripe on the side of the trousers
  8. Jetted pockets – no flaps, because these are informal.
  9. Pocket square – traditionally in white linen, but a splash of color in silk or linen is also fine
  10. White or ivory shirt with double cuffs and a turn down collar with pleats, a starched, marcella piqué front or a fly front if no studs are available
  11. Black silk bow tie – matching the lapel
  12. A boutonniere in the lapel – a highly overlooked but great finishing detail
  13. Black over-the-calf socks made of pure silk.
  14. Black plain patent leather oxford shoes (without a captoe / brogues)  or plain opera pumps

Although these guidelines can be flexible – just look at Nick Foulkes in his superb velvet evening attire or 82 year old oscar winner Christopher Plummer in his navy velvet smoking jacket – most men will look unfavorable or even ridiculous if they try to deviate too much from these classic standards. However, I can only encourage you to try new things. Usually, it is best to start with one element at the time, and make sure you do not go wild with your colors. A subtly patterned cummerbund, vividly colored socks or a red carnation are great added details!

My favorite black tie outfit from recent years was worn by Tom Ford: He wore an interesting shawl collar jacket in black. Just look at the end of the lapels and compare them to other shawl collar jackets – it is more rounded and gives him a special look without being ostentatious. In combination with the turn back cuffs, it looks like this coat was made in the late 1950′s. The buttons are covered with silk and he opted for 5 sleeve buttons in place of the traditional 4, leaving the last button rakishly undone. His turn down collar shirt features three diamond studs and a larger butterfly bow tie. With a white pocket square and a white carnation boutonniere in his lapel, he looks the part without deviating from the aforementioned guidelines.

How Not To Wear A Tuxedo

In Hollywood, most men don’t seem to care about classic men’s style and so the outcome is often funny or even gaudy – even Prince William has troubles when it comes to black tie attire. I can attribute some of the strange ensembles to the couture houses; simply choosing the brand du jour does not guarantee an elegant combination or well-tailored cut.

Although it is much easier to look well-dressed in a tuxedo, there are many men at the Oscars who simply fall short. So, here is a selected overview of the outfits and what could be improved.

Zachary Quinto wears a tuxedo jacket with flaps and slim shawl collar. Unfortunately, he does not have enough room in his chest, which is why the chest opens up. George Clooney wears a notched lapel tuxedo and  Judd Apatow forgot his cummerbund or vest. Jonah Hill tries to pull of a monochromatic look, as his dark purple shirt and bow tie are barely discernible from his black tux. Since he does not wear suspenders, the fullness of his trousers makes him look unfortunate.

Matthew Lillard skipped his cummerbund, wears his sleeves too long and combines it with boxy shoes – so it looks like he wears an ill-fitting rental tuxedo. Robert Forster wears cap toe shoes, but otherwise he looks excellent.

Andrew Garfield chose to wear low rise trousers and skip the cummerbund, which exposes his waistband and makes his legs look shorter. Also, he opted for full brogue patent leather oxford shoes – bummer.

Christian Bale shows us another monochromatic look with black shirt, necktie, waistcoat, shawl collar and pocket flaps. Each to his own, but I cannot say that I like it. Mark Wahlberg next to him skipped the pocket square for a pair of sunglasses. A tuxedo is for the evening, so you should be able to leave your sunglasses at home.

Russel Brand wore a dark navy velveteen suit with black lapels, black long skinny tie and what looks like a plaid shirt. Not my cup of tea but nevertheless interesting.

Overall, it seems like the tuxedos look worse every year – do you agree? What was your favorite men’s tuxedo at the Oscars 2014?

42 replies
  1. Garric Gaspar Nahapetian
    Garric Gaspar Nahapetian says:

    These men need to read GG. Someone needs to help them. How can they leave the house looking so shabby? Do they not have a stylist or even a wife or girlfriend to help them dress?

    Reply
      • Walter Wade
        Walter Wade says:

        Yikes, it looks like most of these men went to a one-night tux rental place and did not opt for the accessories package (pocket square, vest, cummerbund, braces, etc.) or even minimal tailoring; boys going to their first prom dress better. I like a full break in my trousers, but some of these men look like they have gone to long skirts! Whatever happened to the plain black oxford shoe, sans cap toe, if one feels uncomfortable with patent leather? Some of those shoes look like they were borrowed from a flamenco dancer while others look like they came off the cop on the beat.

        I assume some of these men think they are making a “style statement” by breaking with tradition. I cannot accept that paid stylists would allow such nonsense, unless, as in other realms of late, the customer’s dictates are always right even when they are egregiously wrong. So sad that clean-lined American style, which all the world once sought to emulate, is being jettisoned by those who should be the lodestones of style. Bring back Cary Grant and Fred Astaire…

        Reply
    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Mike, Brogues are indeed not appropriate for evening wear – nevertheless Prince William and Andrew Garfield (see above) wear them with their tuxedos and hence I wanted to emphasize not to wear them. No.14 was a little ambiguous and I changed it now so it is more obvious. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

      Reply
    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Garric,
      Traditionally, you wore a detachable stiff collar that sometimes had wings, but they were smaller than the ones in the picture. Later, the soft turndown collar became popular but the the collar you linked did not exist. It is neither a soft collar, nor a detachable collar but something short in between that never looks favorable in my opinion and is historically not correct.

      Reply
  2. Dr. Olaf S.van Hees
    Dr. Olaf S.van Hees says:

    I always make it easy for myself.
    I never wear a tuxedo or a dinner jacket, even not a white tie. Always either full regimentals or a kilt with full Scottish rigg. So never anything to worry about!

    Reply
    • Joseph Sparks
      Joseph Sparks says:

      Sir,
      as a sweaty ,can brogues be worn with dress tartan, or nay?
      A sasanac who just wants to know
      Joseph

      Reply
      • Dr. Olaf S. van Hees
        Dr. Olaf S. van Hees says:

        Of course you can wear brogues under a kilt, even under a dress tartan, as long as they are good quality Ghillie Brogues with ankle laces. However, when sporting a dress tartan, black shoes with very classic silver buckles are preferable. Mind the fact that dress tartan is a disputable item, as they are late Victorian inventions. The purists stick with the original old clan tartan, eg. “antique De LaHayes” or “antique MacDonald of ClanRannald”. Just to name some.
        What to wear and how to wearScottish rigg is covering dangerous grounds! Perhaps Svein can write an article about that?

        Reply
  3. William Wright
    William Wright says:

    I really noticed throughout the program last night just how many men do not follow any guides at all. I wonder if a costumer dresses them? If so, that industry needs to read Peter Marshall’s Black Tie Guide very quick.There was a lot wrong last night, but also a lot was right. As soon as I can review the show again, I’ll be here again, letting you know who was good at Black Tie and who was bad. As for me, I do think this Hollywood style has gone far enough and it’s up to us who do dress right to correct it all.

    Reply
  4. Mickey G
    Mickey G says:

    Perhaps they should watch James Bonds Casino Royale to have an idea. Good thing they can entertain and act in some cases for fashionista’s they are not.

    Reply
  5. Mark Seitelman
    Mark Seitelman says:

    Messrs. McConaughey and Leto looked like clowns in their white dinner coats which were totally out of place due to the season and the formality of the event. I guess none of their stylists knew that white is for the summer.

    Spacey’s tux was too blue. Although he wanted to set himself apart from the other men, he succeeded in that he looked like bandleader. Or his idol, Bobby Darin.

    One reason why the men look worse and worse in their evening clothes every succeeding year is because men no longer know how to dress. This is so especially for Hollywood which has a casual culture. For the actors it is no longer a daily habit to wear a suit and tie whether it be in on the screen or in their personal lives.

    Mark E. Seitelman
    http://www.seitelman.com

    Reply
  6. John M
    John M says:

    Couple of things:
    First, does anyone else wonder why nearly all the pants are hideously long?
    Second, too many men – even big celebs – look shabby even in every-day wear. They look as though they’ve showed up to mow the yard, or have just finished.
    - John M

    Reply
    • Rob
      Rob says:

      I noticed that even those who looked somewhat decent had bunching pants. I am not big on a full break, but goodness, this was really bothersome; ever hear of tailoring? And also a dearth of pocket squares and boutineers.

      Reply
    • Andrew
      Andrew says:

      Because its California. Even my tailor is uncomfortable to hem trousers with a proper break, “its too short!”. Honestly, I am really surprised at this. I thought Hollywood would do better, but CA is really just so informal. By the way, is it inappropriate to wear an off white dinner coat in the winter? I always thought the dinner coat was indoors only, thus appropriate year round?

      Reply
      • Sven Raphael Schneider
        Sven Raphael Schneider says:

        Mark said, white is only correct in summer, which is technically not quite right. Basically, it is a warm weather dinner jacket alternative, that you used see during the summer but also in the winter in warmer places like Palm Beach and depending on the location, on cruises throughout the year.

        Reply
  7. Slim
    Slim says:

    Could you add number to the pictures? I don’t care about the Oscars or movie stars, so I have no idea who most of the people you name are.
    So instead of just saying ‘Star McMoviestar looked good in his shawl collar’ could you say “in picture 13 Star McMoviestar looked good in his shawl collar”, that way those of us who don’t do well at the pink questions in Trivial Pursuit can read the style comments as well.

    Thank you

    Reply
  8. Gary Davidson
    Gary Davidson says:

    I found this really upsetting and rather tragic. These are men who have the money and the occasions to wear formal clothing and they apparently do not know how to do so. It seems either “their mommy dresses them”, some stylist is trying to get them to ” make a statement” or they have no idea how to dress. Given the trash I have seen at other events I would guess all three. Oh well celebrity and money do not endow one with class or style. Sad

    Reply
  9. Julián
    Julián says:

    After looking at these pictures I need to look at some photos of Astaire in white tie, so as to cleanse my brain from such images and to remind myself that it can get better than this appalling mediocrity.
    Year after year I am more certain of one thing: the Oscars represent everything that went and still goes wrong with men’s clothing culture.

    Reply
  10. suffolk
    suffolk says:

    You asked about boutonnierres. Well, of course men should wear them, along with pocket squares, braces, black bow ties, patent shoes, and clothes that actually fit them.

    I don’t hold with your assertion about notch lapels, that rule is outdated. And patent pumps have effectively disappeared from use for all but the most historically dressed dandy.

    I have no problem with men bending the rules or even re-inventing them. I actually quite like Pharrel Williams’ shorts tuxedo, if a young man wanted to wear that then fine.

    What is interesting, is the way that Tom Ford always looks better in his clothes that most actors do – this is always down to fit.

    As for your suggestion that men wear white tie at the Oscars, definitely not. They’d look nervous butlers.

    Reply
    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Historically, peaked lapels were more formal and if you think about a tuxedo, the only thing that distinguishes it from a regular suit is the faced lapels, and the galon along with the silhouettes. If you now start to add notched lapels and flap pockets to the mix, it becomes more and more like a suit.
      Tuxedos should never have a notched lapel. If all attendants wore white tie, the servers would be distinguishable. In fact, this is the smallest problem ;).

      Reply
  11. piotr
    piotr says:

    Well, most of men seem to present rather as a peacock, than a well suited man. This is world wide tendency and only in such place as your web site we can consider such thing. I am keeping up the traditional men fashion and such events, where we could have seen really well made tuxedos, make me always sad, that the real men fashion is vanishing day by day from our live. I have to admit, next to Swan, that the white tie attire would be more appropriate during such events, but I have already in my mind the probably variations of it worn by actors. Well maybe it would be the funniest experience in my life!

    Reply
    • Juan Manuel
      Juan Manuel says:

      So sad! But… if you only had a look at Spanish movie awards ceremonies….

      They make the Oscars tuxedos look gorgeous in comparison!

      Reply
  12. Mark Hollingsworth
    Mark Hollingsworth says:

    I commented on the poorly fitting trousers on nearly everyone last year (even George Clooney was guilty), and it is even worse this year. Have they never heard of tailoring? Now we have the invasion of the bulky watches! Just goes to show that money does not buy taste or style. A shame – here is a group of ‘stars’ who have an opportunity to make a major impact on male style, and simply fail.

    Reply
    • John M
      John M says:

      And doesn’t this apply to society in general – a reflection of taste gone to the dogs? As Sven and others have pointed out, it does not cost a fortune to look decent; in fact, it may cost less. I live in a village, and yesterday I was in a local coffee shop and the owner patted me on the shoulder and said I was “all dressed up and what’s the occasion?” Just trying to keep warm, I replied. I was in khakis, chukkas, blue OCBD, tie, cardigan, tweed sportcoat and scarf – the overcoat was on the chair. I was quite informal in dress, and yet people everywhere think this is high fashion! How far we’ve gone – down, that is. And it says something about our culture generally, as well. What can we do about it?

      Reply
  13. Reverend Richard de Meath
    Reverend Richard de Meath says:

    While I agree the dinner jacket – or tuxedo as it is known in the US – can look exquisite, it seems the age of the gentleman has passed. Many people wear ‘trainers’ instead of shoes, ‘jeans’ instead of trousers, ‘t-shirts’ instead of shirts, which is why they look uncomfortable in situations where formal attire is required.
    Fine feathers might indeed make a fine bird, but when applied to the male of our species this lovely expression is often doomed to failure.

    Reply
  14. Gil Schlierer
    Gil Schlierer says:

    I watched the Oscar Ceremony and was amazed. I have never seen a larger group of wealthy, powerful and supposedly sophisticated men who knew or cared less about not only formal wear at a world-class occasion but who knew or cared less about their appearance in general. I did not see a single outstanding example of someone who knew what he was doing. Most looked rumpled, badly fitted and totally uncaring.

    Reply
  15. Michael Sold
    Michael Sold says:

    Sven I thank you once again for that marvellous review and your comments about the Tuxedo World at Oscar. Personally I do not like white Dinner Jackets as they mostly do not complent the partners dress and seem to stick out from the rest. Also it could be on some occassions that you are confused with the service staff resp. waiter/waitress. The tuxedo should always remain in its classical style invented by Henry Poole of Saville Row http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Poole_%26_Co
    I am in close contact with company as I am just getting 4 suits including an outstanding tuxedo. The staff is very very helpful and I am looking forward to receive them in a short notice.

    Reply
  16. Timothy Archie
    Timothy Archie says:

    I have to disagree with you on the notched lapel. I have three tuxedos from the 1930′s & 50′s, as well as three diner jackets from the 40′s & 50′s, all, except for the one double breasted, have the notched lapel.

    Reply
  17. Alex H
    Alex H says:

    I liked Pharrel’s short pants Tuxedo. I don’t know if I’d personally wear it or if i could even pull it off, but it was a different approach and it’s good to see Men pushing the style envelop, sometimes to the extremes, otherwise Men’s Fashion would never evolve.

    Reply

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