Hi there, Borderstanis. So, this coming Sunday marks one of my favorite days of the year. Of course, I’m referring to Oscar Night.
Some may be tuning in to find out whether The Social Network or The King’s Speech wins Best Picture… or what Natalie Portman’s gonna say when she takes home the statue for Best Actress… but I’ll be paying attention to what the glitterati will be wearing on the red carpet. I’m sure you’re absolutely shocked by that piece of knowledge.
However inspired or tragic the gowns worn by the ladies of Hollywood may be and have been in the past, I always end up paying a little bit more attention to the tuxedos the gentlemen are sporting. Sure, tuxes aren’t as flashy as the dresses, but it’s fascinating to see how a guy’s personality comes through in an outfit that is inherently more limiting than a gown. And everyone can look good in a tux. It just has to be the right tux, natch.
The Tux Jacket, Shirt, Tie and Accessories: Khelan lays it all out for you in this week’s column. All with photos and recommendations on where you can purchase each item, natch.
I’m pretty sure you’ve just figured out what I’ll be focusing on this week.
At some point in his life (preferably sooner rather than later), a gentleman, especially one who lives and/or works in the District, absolutely must add a tuxedo to his closet. Leave the renting to the awkward teenager who’s about to go to prom.
Listen, I realize that buying a tux is a daunting task. As much as I love clothes, buying my first tux was a stressful situation. But there are a few easy-to-follow rules that should help you out.
The Jacket: Four Options
Finding the right jacket really depends on your body type and personality. In the photo below, going clockwise, you’ll see four different types of single-breasted jackets: notched lapel, peaked lapel, peaked-lapel white dinner jacket and shawl collar.
The notched lapel is the most similar to a traditional suit lapel and looks great on those with slimmer builds. The peaked lapel is slightly more dramatic and tends to be wider than the notch lapel. This looks better with those who have broader builds.
The white dinner jacket is a nice alternative to the traditional black, especially in the warmer months. And spring and summer are just around the corner. It goes without saying that if you don’t feel at ease in a double-breasted suit, you won’t get any more comfortable in a double-breasted tux.
The shawl collar is a timeless, classic look that is associated almost exclusively with tuxedo jackets. Even more so than the notched lapel, I’d recommend the shawl collar for those with slimmer builds and strong, defined facial features as the jacket provides a nice contrast with its lack of sharp lines.
Clockwise, below, you’ll see a pleated shirt, a turn-down collared shirt, a wing-tip shirt and a bib shirt. Personally, I prefer the turn-down collared shirt as it’s the least fussy of the options, but your mileage may vary.
Some people believe when an invitation says black tie, you must wear a bow-tie. That’s not necessarily true. While the bow tie is the more traditional option, I only recommend wearing one if you know how to expertly tie it yourself (or your partner knows how to do it for you).
For those lacking the skills to tie these damn things, like yours truly, stick to a slender neck-tie. Unless you want to look like it came from a cheap rental place, avoid the pre-tied bow-tie. I suggest a solid all-black for your tie, but if you want to mix it up, stick to a very, very subtle pattern or texture.
This is usually what makes or breaks your formal wear. Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. The cummerbund was invented to catch crumbs so one wouldn’t sully his outfit during dinner. They’re superfluous articles, so I’m in favor of chucking them.
Some people like to wear a vest to break up the alleged monotony of the tuxedo. Okay, I guess. Except, someone wearing a vest with a tux usually looks like a groomsman who’s been separated from the rest of the wedding party. Like cummerbunds, it goes without saying that I’m not a fan of vests either with formal wear.
Braces, or suspenders, can be a nice little detail, but they’re reserved for people with slender builds. If you have a larger build, it can add weight to your frame.
If possible, try to wear patent leather shoes with your outfit, but a nicely polished pair of black lace-ups will do just fine.
Keep It Simple
Above all, keep it simple… or WWJBD? (What Would James Bond Do). For tuxes, James Bond, whether we’re talking about Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, is the ultimate style icon. Remember that scene in Casino Royale when 007 first puts on the tux and realizes how stylish he looks? That’s what you should be going for when you look in the mirror.
Just like everything else in your wardrobe, make sure your tux is well-tailored. You won’t need a lot of bells and whistles to stand out. BTW, while tuxes generally come in black (or a white dinner jacket as mentioned earlier), a nice exception is a midnight blue tuxedo. It’s a classy alternative and, usually, has a deeper and richer color because it doesn’t have that sheen that so many black tuxes do.
Be sure to enjoy the Academy Awards this Sunday. Let’s compare notes after on the best dressed. Til next time.