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Humble tux bucks the boring image

Date

Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

View more entries from Stitched Up

What did you think of Pharrell's tux shorts?

What did you think of Pharrell's tux shorts? Photo: Getty

I'd be lying if I said the only reason I watch the Oscars is because I'm genuinely interested in seeing people rewarded for artistic endeavour in the performing arts, and their subsequent gushingly awkward speeches.

And yes, the paparazzi-clustered arrival is admittedly more about which actress wore whom. However, this year we saw a few fascinating takes on the tried-and-true (and, in reality, only) choice for men when it comes to true red carpet events – the tuxedo.

Unlike our counterparts in the animal kingdom, men tend to disappear into the background on the red carpet, eclipsed by the more colourful plumage of female co-stars and partners. That's because men have traditionally had so little room to manoeuvre when selecting what to wear.

But thanks to menswear brands such as Tom Ford, there has been a renewed focus on the tux as a fashion item, and not simply a go-to garment for formal dinners.

Relatively unchanged since it was first popularised in America during the late 1880s, the appreciation of a tuxedo is much like the ability to enjoy fine wine or Scotch – most of the enjoyment is in the detail.

While many of the men who attended the rain-soaked event appeared to stick to the basic “black tie” blueprint, closer inspection revealed a much more nuanced finished product. Simply choosing a standard shawl lapel, double-breasted, or even two-buttons as opposed to the traditional single can completely alter the fit of the jacket, impacting the entire silhouette of the suit.

Marco Siracusa, the manager at luxury menswear boutique Harrolds in Melbourne, says the most noticeable trend in tuxedos has been the collar choice for the jacket.

“The most pronounced recent trend in black and white tie formal wear [has been] a change in lapels,” explains Siracusa. “The shawl collar tuxedo, popularized in the 1930s and on rotation in the highest echelon of formal wear fashion ever since, is having a major renaissance in recent seasons. Peak lapels are also hugely popular and are the perfect compliment to the sleek modern suiting trends we see from the likes of Tom Ford.“

Some changes to tradition, however, were not so subtle. Kevin Spacey and Australian Chris Hemsworth attempted to break with the staid duo of black and navy by choosing midnight blue (yes, there is a difference) and burgundy respectively; others, such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, dabbled in texture by choosing a flecked charcoal effect. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (and third wheel Ryan Seacrest) who starred opposite each other in the Ron Woodroof biopic Dallas Buyers Club continued their winning partnership by turning up in matching white dinner jackets, a nod to the tuxedo's early days.

Others, such as British actor Steve Coogan, opted for a double-breasted jacket, a trend that Siracusa says is regaining traction in the fashion world. “In general suiting trends, single-breasted cuts remain the option of choice with double-breasted suits slowly gaining a cult following from the more edgier dresser.”

However, taking risks with black tie dress codes doesn't always pay off. Disney wunderkind Zac Efron and Christian Bale both committed a cardinal sin by wearing a straight tie instead of the more formal bow-tie; John Stamos wore no tie at all; and as to whether or not Pharrell Williams' tuxedo-shorts were a win or miss … well, I'll leave that up to you to decide. Personally, I didn't hate them.

Should you find yourself invited to a “black tie” event, Siracusa offers this advice:

  • Adding a black bow tie to your everyday suit does not make it a dinner suit.
  • Dinner jackets or tuxedos must have satin or grosgrain lapels.
  • Regular shirting does not adequately compliment a formal look; pleated or bib front shirts should be paired with white or black-tie jackets.

And a final, personal plea: never neglect your footwear. All that hard work up top can be quickly undone simply by forgetting to match footwear to the standards of the occasion. This can be rectified with two easy-to-remember words – 'patent' and 'black'.

What did you think of this years' menswear at the Oscars?

13 comments

  • Useless clothing for stuck up snobs. If you need to wear this to attend something it's not worth going to.

    Commenter
    Yeah
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    March 07, 2014, 7:43AM
    • Agreed Yeah. The tux is useless, Pharrell Williams looks like a dork, and the devilishness of the lead line isn't in the dress but in Hollywood itself.

      Commenter
      Spike
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 9:15AM
    • Useless to someone whose idea of a dinner event is the surf and turf at your local RSL where the best thing about your outfit is the fact you put your good ugg boots on for a change...

      Commenter
      Indeed
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 10:01AM
    • It's funny that it was interesting enough for you to view the article and then comment.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 10:24AM
    • Ugg boots? No they'd be for something really important like a "weddin" or "fune-ral" @Indeed. Double pluggers and ya best slogan tee shirt for the "R-eee". Geez you mustn't kno nuffin bout dressin classy n that!!

      Commenter
      Peter
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 10:59AM
    • George Bernard Shaw was a socialist but advocated formal wear for evenings because all men looked the same in it, and so it could hide poverty.

      Also it saves time and the endless angst women go through when dressing (and not just for 'events').

      Commenter
      HAL 9000
      Location
      Jupiter Mission
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 11:18AM
    • You have a tux its called a check flannie ugg boots and some paint splattered stubbies
      I think you might be the snob for looking down on people who are comfortable in their own skin and are happy to have a sense of style

      Commenter
      Timmy O'Toole
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 12:34PM
    • Whatever - the only time I see people in this kind of rubbish get up is when they attempt to make their middle class wedding look 'elegant'. You look stupid. And you look uncomfortable. Get over yourself and realize that clothes aren't going to make you a better person.

      Commenter
      Yeah
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 1:34PM
  • It's a pity most men don't realise how good a tux will make them look. It's funny too how the ones who say its clothing for stuck up snobs are actually being the snobby judgmental ones.

    I hold myself to a higher personal standard than footy shorts, racing team shirts and fongs. I don't expect everyone to be the same, it would be a boring world if we were but it never hurts to dress up a bit. Glad to see the resurgence of classic black tie.

    Commenter
    Peter
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 07, 2014, 10:23AM
    • Men look great in a tux but Pharrell looked like a goose in those shorts!

      Commenter
      Catherine
      Date and time
      March 07, 2014, 11:17AM

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