I usually start these lists by talking about the women’s fashion first. But last nite I was repeatedly struck by how the tuxedo or what a Hollywood actor considers to be formal wear has undergone an almost seismic shift. And as with all seismic shifts, there are losers and there are winners.
What was once the obligatory penguin suit with bow tie has now become just a starting point from which to riff as many silhouettes, shirt and tie/less combinations as possible, making the men’s choices appear almost as vast as the women’s. And with this newfound lattitude, the mistakes and the successes, it seems to me, are now as noteworthy as the women’s.
Last nite you saw jackets with shawl collars, peak lapels, notch lapels, narrow lapels, one button and more traditional two button closures and, in the case of Tom Cruise, a beautiful double breasted model–that was unfortunately the wrong style for him since a double breasted jacket with wide lapels looks best on someone tall.
The teen musical sensation Jonas Brothers (pictured below) best personified the trend towards experimentation as well as the risks that are involved in riffing on the classic tuxedo. Only Kevin got it absolutely right, in a velvet cropped blazer, white shirt and a bow tie. The other two young men fell into the trap of of the trend: they looked goofy and if as if they were getting dressed in the dark.
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At least you can blame their mistakes on the folly of youth. But how is one to explain the outfits of Alexandre Desplat, Sting, Robert Downey, Collin Ferrell, Rainn Wilson and, most quizically, Mickey Rourke?
The best rule of thumb one can offer about how to break the tuxedo out of its constraining box is this: take the process seriously. If you look like you’re dressing in a costume from some odd period film or like Keith Richards , you need to start again. (And perhaps demand that your stylist get you a few beautifully cut pieces you can mix and match from Neil Barrett or Band of Outsiders.)
That said, Kevin Jonas, Aaron Eckhart, Chris Pine, Zac Efron and Patrick Dempsey looked especially good, most noticeably because their tuxedos had the perfect fit and proportion, Mr Cruise.