If you’re wondering how to look your best for the festive season’s black tie parties, bear this in mind: classic is back. A review of what was being sported at last month’s GQ Magazine Men of the Year awards provides an insight into the shifting tide in tuxedo trends. Gone were the slimline creations so favoured by rockeratti over the past few years, replaced by something much more refined.
Traditional bow ties were in abundance while the star of the show, actor Bradley Cooper, attended sported a classically elegant double-breasted tuxe.
“Men are returning to traditional cuts and old-school suiting,” says Max Summerskill, Menswear director at Dunhill. “They want to dress in what’s proper for the event. We’re seeing an influx of men wanting traditional side-adjusters, the correct accessories, and no vents at the back. There’s a return to the old school formal evening suiting rules.”
Indeed. Call it the William effect – the Duke of Cambridge has been cutting a noticeably dapper dash in double breasted tuxedos at formal events all year, not least at a black tie Hollywood party in his and his wife’s honour, and Cooper’s attire suggests glitterati took notice. So are chaps generally, it seems.
“Men are looking for details and simple elegance,” says Oscar Udeshi, founder of luxe menswear label Udeshi.
“Double breasted is having a massive moment. It’s partly thanks to the prince, and men want something that will last them,” says fashion commentator Henry Conway. “I will wear pieces my grandfather owned because they were such good quality and look totally timeless. I think men are going back to that. They’re buying evening suits in classic cuts that will last forever.”
Tradition doesn’t have to mean a deviation from being fashion forward. The velvet suit, for example, is highly traditional and also happens to be bang on trend.
“Velvet is an easy way stand out that’s still totally appropriate. Lots of men are embracing this,” says Udeshi.
“The key with a velvet dinner jacket is to opt for a coloured version, which accentuates the look without overpowering it,” says Toby Bateman, buying director at men’s fashion website Mr Porter.
Silhouette wise, the two periods driving the look for men’s formalwear are the 1930s – that double breasted theme; for a slim fit version Hardy Amies’ autumn collection is a festival of Gosford Park glamour – and the 1970s, as represented by Udeshi, Dolce & Gabbana and Brit men’s suiting label E. Tautz.
If all of the above aren’t your thing, you can always use accessories to update your evening look.
“The classic bow tie continues to become the must-have,” says Conway. “Avoid clip on but if you are going to wear one, bring a proper one that you can wear loose half way through the evening. If you’re going to fake it, you may as well do it properly.”
For the more adventurous, velvet slippers – formerly the preserve of Eurotrash and granddads – have also made a resurgence in certain circles. “Embroidered slippers are proving popular in formal looks,” says Bateman. “We have a pair by Alexander McQueen with embroidered skulls, while a pair by Jimmy Choo incorporate a Paisley pattern and female silhouettes – very James Bond.”
It may take a brave soul to sport those at a City party, but making an effort and standing out in party season is surely preferable to fading quietly into the background, even if it means wearing slippers. “They’re fun,” says Conway. “But they take confidence. You have to wear them with a knowing wink.”
THE DRESS WATCH
C9 Jumping Hour by Christopher Ward, £1,150. www.christopherward.co.uk