The sartorial stakes are already quite high on the red carpet at the annual Met Gala, so when Anna Wintour laid down the decree that men were to show up in white tie, they were raised even higher.
How would fashion’s leading men answer the call of an antiquated dress code of rigorous decorum?
Well, as it turns out, there were a few guys who went traditional and nailed it, while a few took some liberties and actually pulled it off. (And there were a number of fellows who fell in between that we just won’t mention.)
But with the warmer, more carefree summer party circuit on the horizon—weddings, society croquet galas, et cetera—you’ve got permission to lighten things up a bit. That means cotton instead of silk, linen instead of cotton and, for the love of all things holy above 90 degrees, not a stitch of velvet in sight. So we’ve rounded up a few lightweight substitutions for your tuxedo routine that will keep you just as dapper through the hotter months to come. No sweat.
We may have found the only pair of socks that you could wear with a proper pair of shoes and a suit or take a five-mile jog in.
They’re Falke’s Run Socks, and the C’H’C’M’ shop has got a restock of them just in time for any semiformal action you might be getting yourself into this time of year. Here’s what else you should know about them.
The Story: Falke has been making some good-looking performance socks for some time now—with ergonomic footbeds and nonslip heels. But these don’t stop at the ankle like most. They follow the form of a dress sock by rising to the calf. And the navy mélange would look right at home between a charcoal trouser hem and tobacco cap-toes. (Or running shorts and Nikes.)
Who to Channel: A very dapper Steve Prefontaine—but ease up on the running before your feet begin to bleed, you don’t want to ruin these socks.
When to Wear It: Any day you’re planning on going jogging or putting some extra mileage on your wingtips. (Or anticipating a meeting that could break into a game of two-hand touch.)
Degree of Difficulty: They’re socks. Don’t overthink it.
The Story: Ever since Aaron Levine took the design reins of Club Monaco’s men’s department, everything has been coming up handsome. And with each new season, the suiting has improved by leaps and bounds. We’d like to think of this tuxedo jacket as his pièce de résistance in this season’s crop.
Who to Channel: James Bond in Skyfall; the spirit animal of Giovanni Agnelli (a midnight blue penguin); James Bond in Skyfall (seriously, he nails it).
When to Wear It: Whenever you can get away with it. Try it with jeans, or with an open collar shirt, or with... the matching pair of navy pants.
Degree of Difficulty: The only snag you might hit is in a traditional black-tie setting—since midnight blue is a little off-book, you’ll want to keep everything else on the straight and narrow. Otherwise, throwing a tux jacket into any semiformal getup should only serve to enhance your stateliness.
Think of This As: The answer to all of your black-tie quandaries.
It’s a given that he’s more dressed up than most of the other guests, but between the velvet jacket and the loosely knotted bow, he manages to settle into a kind of Bond Villain style that’s all his own. He looks as if he stepped in from another, better-dressed world.
The top buttons of jackets have been creeping upwards for a couple years now, but our friends at UrbanDaddy just put us on to an extreme example. This Monitaly Peter Jacket buttons somewhere around the collarbone, and the bottom split is high enough to let your belly button (or at least your belt buckle) show through.
The resulting look is eccentric to say the least—more like evening tails than a suit jacket—but close enough to standard-issue formalwear that it might pass from afar. The opera will never know what hit it.
Formalwear has a lot of unspoken rules, and as you get into the thorny, European end, they can get downright confusing. For instance, blue suits and brown shoes are now entirely acceptable—provided you’re outside of Germany. Just so you know…
For a guide, we suggest a tome called Gentleman, which recently received a new cover and a revised edition. It’s got a few hefty predecessors, but it’s definitely worth a look. A few other insights contained within: if your tie lifts your collar tips off your shirt, it’s time to change ties, and if you’re wearing a club tie around London high society, you’d better belong to the club.