Let’s finish up our 3-part formal wear analysis with a look at some black tie dos and don’ts.
The Long Tie
Wearing a long tie in place of a bow tie is perfectly acceptable, but as this option can look less formal, it’s important to make sure all the other elements are in perfect order.
Paul N. J. Ottosson would have been in better shape for his Academy Award photo op had his attire looked more polished and evening-worthy. Although the notch lapel jacket is a non-traditional style that’s now popularly accepted for formal occasions, I find that it looks more like a fancy business suit than a tux. The big tie with the big knot (Ack! No dimple!) and big stripes – coupled with a big, boxy jacket all made him look a tad clownish. But then again, he’s a sound engineer (with an impressive 3 Oscars and 4 nominations track record) and not a fashion plate, so I’ll cut him some slack.
In contrast, Lieve Schreiber (in Calvin Klein Collection) and Jean Dujardin (in Lanvin) did the long tie right with a shot of minimalist solid black sliver, tied tight in a simple-yet-always-elegant four-in-hand knot. And of course, with everything else done with precise, sharp tailoring, these guys did not mess around.
Ben Affleck (in Gucci) didn’t look too shabby, but nonetheless missed the mark with just a couple of details. Because the high V shape cut out from the lines of the vest tends to create a stumpy torso under a jacket, he needed to balance it out with a jacket of a lower button stance. For some reason, his jacket appeared to have an unusually high button stance for a single-button, adding to the illusion of a thicker middle. Also, the extra fabric bunched around his ankles did more disservice to chop up his figure.
Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper (in Tom Ford) and Channing Tatum (in Gucci) perfected the formula by balancing the height of the vest’s neckline with a jacket of lower button stance, creating a more harmonious proportion that leaned out the torso. Their trousers were cut trim without excess fabric, further elongating the body.
Although I use Hugh Jackman (in Tom Ford) as an example of what to avoid, notice that I didn’t make him a don’t either. That’s because he actually looked great in his tux and I had no reason to take jabs at him. But that’s Hugh Jackman, not you. I’m using his example as a caution to the rest of the male population who aren’t as toweringly statuesque and solidly built as him. For the average guy without a chiseled body, and especially those who are vertically challenged and/or on the portly side, do stay away from the DB, as it will only accentuate those features.
The double-breasted tux is just as acceptable as the single-breasted, but pairing it with a shawl collar can be risky business in its possible association with the bathrobe. If you’re going for the DB, I recommend that you go for the peak lapel with a high gorge for a more formal, sharp, slimming and modern look. The gorge is the seam on the jacket where the collar meets the lapel.
Chris Pine (in Ermenegildo Zegna) was impressive in his very trim DB number, with everything cut and fitted to his body with scientific precision. The high-gorge peak lapel and minimalist design was very of-the-moment, fashion forward and advanced, making him truly stand apart as an original.
The Mature Gentleman
Again, as with Hugh Jackman, I’m not necessarily making Steven Spielberg (in Dior Homme) a don’t. Actually, I was a bit torn on this choice. 40% of me wanted to give him mega props for a mature gentleman to rock such a fashionable tux in that razor-blade lapel. But then again, the majority naysayer in me screamed out to the TV while watching him, “Dress your age, papa!” So this was a toss-up, with a bias toward don’t.
Michael Douglas (in Canali), on the other hand, managed to show off a bit of older-guy fashion edge in just the right way. He did this by wearing a tux that was age-appropriately slim enough to say that he was cool and current, added just the right touch of novel cut-out detail on the lapel, then went for the kill with an injection of the ever-sophisticated midnight blue color with black accents.
So Close, Yet So Far Away
Finally, here is Christoph Waltz (in Prada) and George Clooney (in Georgio Armani). I leave you with these two very talented and charismatic gentlemen because they were so close to perfection had it not been for a couple of obvious misses. The devil is indeed in the details, and the details that bedeviled both of them were the same two issues that could have been easily averted:
1) Raise the jacket sleeve to show some cuff.
2) Slim down the trousers and shorten the break at the hem – just a little more for Mr. Waltz and a good extra yard for Mr. Clooney.
... And then there’s Daniel Radcliffe (in Prada) as a shining example of what could have been.
That’s it for formal wear, until next time. Hope you enjoyed the posts and that you found the information useful.