The Oscars & Men’s Tuxedos
Tonight, an armada of evening gowns and tuxedos descended on the red carpet in Los Angeles for the announcement of the 84th Academy Awards.
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.
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:
- Black or midnight blue cloth – often barathea or plain cloth, sometimes with a bit of mohair for an elegant sheen
- 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
- Ventless Jacket
- Cummerbund or waistcoat with a single-button jacket
- Neither a cummerbund nor a waistcoat with a double-breasted jacket, but then you must not unbutton it – the waist must never be exposed!
- Wear suspenders – never a belt!
- A galon stripe on the side of the trousers
- Jetted pockets – no flaps, because these are informal.
- Pocket square – traditionally in white linen, but a splash of color in silk or linen is also fine
- 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
- Black silk bow tie – matching the lapel
- A boutonniere in the lapel – a highly overlooked but great finishing detail
- Black over-the-calf socks made of pure silk.
- 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 in 2010: 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, most men do not look as splendid in their tuxedos as they could, so let’s see who our favorite tuxedo wearer is next year. What was your favorite men’s tux this year?