Epilogue: Formality’s Future A View from 2018

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

Abraham Lincoln

Will The Tuxedo Survive? Yes For The Meantime!

It is likely that just as the rise of the tuxedo as standard evening wear pushed the tailcoat into relative obscurity following World War II, the suit’s increasing acceptance at formal events will consign the tuxedo to only the most ceremonious of occasions. What’s harder to predict is how long this process will take and whether or not the black-tie dress code will survive it.

With the increased popularity of online made to measure garments it is easier and less expensive than ever before to order unusual dinner jackets, a traditional tuxedo or a double breasted velvet dinner jacket with the details you want. Even though Millenials are less likely to invest in houses compared to previous generations, they have an interest in luxury goods and status symbols. So rather than a car, they buy a nice watch or custom suit or tuxedo.

In addition, a very specific – and uniquely modern – factor in the tuxedo’s life expectancy is its sartorial relevancy.  Although the dinner suit’s popularity in America has waxed and waned since first being challenged by the regular suit back in the forties, there has always remained a clear distinction between the two.

Tartan Shawl Collar Dinner Jacket

Tartan Shawl Collar Dinner Jacket

Prom Still Calls For A Tux

Today, however, prom dates and young fiancés faced with the option of renting a suit-like tuxedo or buying an actual black suit would have little reason for choosing the former.  Nevertheless, many choose to go with a tux because it is still something special in their minds.

As for the black-tie dress code, whether or not it survives the tuxedo’s demise will depend on the willingness of trendsetters to be limited by the code’s fundamentals.

Reinterpreting the code as a black suit, white formal shirt and black formal tie, for example, would respect enough of its principles to keep it relevant but only as long as men agreed to honor the new definition.  If men increasingly decide to opt for individualism over uniformity instead then the dress code will cease to have a purpose.  Formal dressing – clothing that maintains a “form” or tradition – will have given way to simply dressing up.

Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis with turndown collar, self tie bow tie, black studs and cuffs - sleeves too long

Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis with turndown collar, self-tie bow tie, black studs and cuffs – sleeves too long

Black Neck Ties vs. Black Bow Tie

That being said, the trend of black neckties instead of bow ties at the Oscars has not caught on, and most people put on a black bow tie.

Furthermore, history has proven that the tuxedo is remarkably resilient.  Despite the impact of world wars, economic downturns and anti-establishment counterculture the dinner jacket is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its arrival in America this year amidst some encouraging developments.  With a rising interest in the black-tie dress code compared to a decade ago, it would appear that even in the twenty-first century the resplendent black-and-white elegance of the Victorian dining suit remains without equal.

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Future of Tuxedos & Black Tie
Gentleman's Gazette LLC
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