Formalwear Hall of Shame

A large part of the research for the Guide involved poring over countless formalwear Web sites for illustrations of various black-tie attire.  Here are some of the best (worst?) examples of the godawful garments lurking in cyberspace.



Tacky Tuxedos

Judging by this marketing, the popular prom theme for 2010 was douchebag chic.  Minus the chic. What's the etiquette for camouflage weddings?  Does the bride wear an orange hunting vest?

"Groom Wear / Tuxedo" from a Chinese online company. 
How do you say "gauche" in Mandarin?
The all-white tuxedo with colored accessories:  What part of "black tie" don't you understand? Al Capone probably would have loved this.

Who knew dinner jackets were available in molded plastic?  For men who dig that Claymation look.

Because you never know when a tennis game could break out at your formal event.

"Bridegroom suit / Groom wear / Tuxedo / Tailcoat" examples from the "Suzhou Purple Rain Lover Wedding Dress Factory" in China. 
Newsflash, people: not even Prince would wear this crap.

Formal wear for rodeo doctors.  When a tuxedo alone is not enough to show how classy you are . . . add giant illuminated dollar signs!

"Christening tuxedo." a.k.a. baby pimp clothes.
Matching outfits turn bridesmaids into Barbie dolls and grooms into eunuchs.  Of course, the brides who pick these colors would never be caught dead in them.

Redneck prom.  Only in America.
Casualties of the Millennium Button Wars.

Euro formal wear.  As in "eur-o-my-god those things are hideous." 
Blame Italy for the collection on the left and Germany for the getup on the right.

Special Achievement: Designer Andrew Fezza is described as combining the "sophistication of European design" and the "casual ease of American design".  These outfits suggest more of a cross-breed of euro trash and trailer trash.  From L to R: powder-blue "Captain's Coat" 100% irony-free, scarlet "Monaco" also available in periwinkle and spring blue, white "Davinci" formal bathrobe, and pink 2-button shawl collar - suitable for you and your "girlfriend".

Tawdry Tailcoats


Nothing says state dinner like this After Six "Rainbow  Tailcoat". You can tell this guy's really cool because he doesn't believe in shaving or wearing clothes that fit.  Also, he's drinking wine.

You go, girl. This is described as a "formal wear essential" that's "timeless", "sophisticated", "classic" and "elegant".  The internet doesn't lie. 

The maker of this outfit (and similar ones shown elsewhere) seems to target teenage boys who want to dress formally yet still look like crap.

What men's formal wear would look like if designed by school girls.  (You can almost picture a pretty white unicorn standing just out of frame.) Liberace called and he wants his butler back. Beauty such as this doesn't come cheap.  This stunning "premium tailsuit" will set you back a cool $2,650. 

Misguided Morning Dress

There's a special place in sartorial hell reserved for the designer of this British "wedding collection."



Mixed-Breed Mongrels


Rising to the challenge from the upstart Chinese, Italian designers Ottavio Nuccio conjure up their own atrocities in skintight silk.  Added Bonus: these designs are available as wallpaper for your computer.

Atrocious Accessories


What time does the magic show start? Get out the fancy huntin' rifle, ma.  We're gettin' gussied up tonight!

Popular with men aspiring to become tropical resort bartenders. Retina-scorching matching accessories.
Click the image to see why this design could not be less appropriate for a festive occasion. Hmmm.  It's a bit subdued for my tastes.  Do you have anything a little bolder? So bad on so many levels:  pairing a long tie with a cummerbund, tucking the tie into the cummerbund, combining this garish mess with a pathetic wing collar . . .

The worst part of this hideous cummerbund & tie set?  The American makers refer to it as "UK Style". 
Tiger print a bit over the top for you?  No problem - these also come in cheetah and leopard.  The set is described as "both distinctive, yet simple, that is to say, it bears class."

 Not to be outdone in the animal prints department, this competitor offers their leopard accessories in fuzzy fabric.  It's like petting the animal itself. According to the maker, these lighted shirt buttons and bow tie ensure that "This tuxedo isn't boring!"  Can't argue with that. If the lighted jacket, trousers, shirt and tie aren't juvenile enough, add a matching cummerbund.  (And what's with the naked mannequin?)
From a retailer that calls regular suits "special tuxedos".  Presumably the black background is what qualifies these neon ties as "formal."

For guys who want  minimum effort and maximum tastelessness. Who needs to pay two hundred bucks for a pair of formal shoes when you can just glue a bow onto a pair of regular slip-ons?  These patent leather running shoes are also available in white if you prefer something a little less formal.   (I'm not making this stuff up.)
I'm not sure what is the worst thing about these "optional" wide leg formal pants: the cheesy design or the moronic marketing. These "evening shoes" should appeal to hipsters and geriatrics alike. Italy has long been a leader in men's style.  Of course, they have their bad days too.

The "Colonel Tie" is the bestselling formal tie at an online western bridal wear shop that is proud to be the "Official Home of the Original Western Denim Wedding Dress" The shirt's fuchsia hue and undersized, flaccid wings aren't likely to attract many women.  (Most men will probably keep their distance too.) Nothing says formal like   "pimp cane".  This comes from an American retailer that offers a choice of 15 different heads and, fortunately for the rest of the world, international shipping. Think only girls can dress pretty at black tie affairs?  This continental tie and cummerbund set begs to differ.  (Tip: invert the neckwear to create a fashionable polyester tiara.)



Erroneous Expertise


The following are screen captures of actual formalwear Web sites . . .


Tip number 1: if you can't spell it then don't sell it. 

Perhaps to keep its customers on their toes, this Texas-based chain uses the heading "special tuxedos" to mean everything except tuxedos:

  • "Formal" tuxedos actually refers to tailcoats

  • "Daytime" tuxedos actually refers to cutaways and strollers

  • "Informal" tuxedos actually refers to Quinceańera cadet coats

  • "Business" tuxedos actually refers to everyday suits



This is from a site that excels in bad advice.  In this sentence alone it invents one garment (there is no such thing as “tuxedo tails”) and two dress codes (“Black Tie Only” and “White Tie Formal”).  But here’s the real kicker: This is a formalwear industry site specifically created “to help better educate consumers about tuxedos and men's formal wear.”  Click the thumbnail to see more of this atrocious “education” . . . and some extremely repetitive prose to boot.

2008 Update: This site has become defunct since first appearing in the Hall of Shame.  The Guide would like to think that it is at least partly responsible. 

.For more recent inductees into the Formalwear Hall of Shame, visit The Black Tie Blog.