Ah, the Oscars: that special time of year when the stars come out to experiment with black tie. Let’s take a look at what they get right and wrong with the black tie dress code, and present our guide to mastering the tuxedo. 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, we’ve seen everything from funny to unique, flamboyant to spot on but overall, the outfits are mostly disappointing.
To help you avoid the same pitfalls, we created a 60+ page Tuxedo & Black Tie Guide and Video.
Men’s Black Tie at the Oscars 2019
While the 2019 Academy Awards featured some controversy around the ceremony itself–in terms of the lack of a host as well as some of the nominees, winners, and snubs–there were a good handful of bright spots in terms of the men’s outfits. Before we cover the best, worst, and weirdest, here’s a rundown of some of the common trends we observed.
Trend: Velvet Jackets and Tuxedos
Standard wool-and-silk combinations still reigned supreme as with most years, but 2019 saw a large contingent of men on the red carpet wearing velvet in varying amounts, whether it be as an accent, a jacket, or a full ensemble.
Trend: Fly-Front Shirts
Conventional tuxedo shirts worn with studs made a strong showing this year, but so did the more minimalist fly-front shirt. As with most other elements of red-carpet black tie, it was worn both elegantly and inelegantly.
Trend: Midnight Blue Tuxedos
Though the Oscars and similar award ceremonies typically see the greatest representation from either standard black ensembles or ones with bright and flashy colors, the elegant and classic alternative of midnight blue made a not-insignificant showing in 2019.
Trend: Monochromatic Looks
The black-and-white nature of a classic tuxedo was designed to give a man an idealized silhouette, but since the 1990s, monochromatic looks have made their presence known in the realms of Alternative and Creative Black Tie. More than just black-on-black, the 2019 Oscars also saw other one-color looks.
Trend: Patterned & Textured Jackets
While patterned jackets in black tie have an historical precedent dating at least to the introduction of tartan in the 1940s and ’50s, and textures arrived in the 1960s, there were several examples of both types of personalization on the red carpet in 2019.
Alright, there’s our summary of trends covered for this year. Now, with the previews and trailers out of the way, let’s get to our feature presentation: the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2019 men’s Oscars outfits.
Best-Dressed Men of the 2019 Academy Awards
First up: the men who we believe stayed true to the spirit and history of classic black tie, and came away looking dapper and distinguished.
Honorable Mentions: Fair and Decent Oscars Outfits
While the above examples were the true winners in terms of elegance, there were a number of other men whose efforts should still be commended.
Mixed Results (and Levels of Formality)
The following are a selection of men who had success in some areas and failure in others, when considering the metrics of fit, formality, and overall style.
Black-Tie Blunders: 2019 Oscars Tuxedo Missteps
Our penultimate category: the outfits that most will love to hate, and the critiques they’ll hate to love. The following ensembles, in our view, simply broke too many established guidelines, were too sloppy in their fit, or were so uninspired in their execution, that they can’t be redeemed.
And Finally…The Craziest Outfits of the 2019 Academy Awards
Our final list for this year are the outfits so bizarre that they can’t rightly be considered attempts black tie at all; they’re in a completely different stratosphere! Enjoy…we think?And there you have it: the trends, successes, attempts, failures, and head-scratchers of the 2019 Oscars. What did you think of our appraisals–and of the outfits themselves? Share with us in the comments below. And don’t forget to take a look at our summaries of previous years, and consult our newly-renovated Black Tie Guide for more information on how to pull off Black Tie properly!
Men’s Black Tie at the Oscars 2017
As in previous years, the 2017 Oscars had a bunch of creative black tie interpretations but sadly not a single man nailed it completely in terms of classic black tie standards, even though some came very close.
Men’s Black Tie at the Oscars 2016
As usual, the most men skipped a cummerbund or evening vest for their black tie outfits in 2016. Leaving your waistband exposed on a black tie outfit simply exudes a lack of style and attention to detail, which is why you should always wear one or the other. It’s not supposed to look like a suit! Skip the belt, and go with sideadjusters or suspenders instead.
Also, studs have been surprisingly popular even though some were quite big. Likewise, the shawl collar seems to be a popular trend in line with navy blue or midnight blue.
Please click through the gallery to learn all about the details DO’s but mostly DON’Ts.
How To Find The Right Black Bow Tie For You
Finding a black bow tie that works well for you and your tuxedo is not easy. Check out our in depth guide on How To Find A Bow Tie That Works For You or watch our video.
Men’s Tuxedos at the Oscars 2014
Pharrell 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 a double button.
The fit of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s tuxedo is decent, the black 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.
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: 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?