Red Carpet Black Tie: The Oscars 


2011 Academy Awards

It was another great year for black tie at the Oscars as the red carpet showed off lots of class and very little crass.  In fact, it appears that "creative black tie" has finally been blacklisted from the ceremony that first brought it to fame.  Let's hope it does not get invited back.  Some other developments of note:


fly-front shirts with turndown collars ruled the evening; this is not only a welcome dash of modern elegance but may finally convince the average American that modern wing collars should be consigned to the history books right next to that other '80s fad, matching bow ties & cummerbunds

not only is the bow tie holding its ground but it's raising the stakes as stars of all ages are opting for self-tied panache

lapels have narrowed to the point where they appear to be an afterthought

waist coverings were in short supply which meant white gaps were plentiful (more on that below)

"Best Dressed" Nominees


Although they didn't make it into the Guide's list of nominees, there are some men who deserve particular praise: Steven Spielberg looked the elder statesman in his classic peak lapel jacket while Geoffrey Fletcher channeled Sidney Poitier in his, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman were both dashing in their double-breasteds and Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth brought a regal refinement to the evening's festivities.  However, the Guide humbly submits the following gentlemen as being the best of the best:
Armie Hammer brought a bit of James Dean to the evening with his swank shawl collar.

Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan rocked the two-button jacket.

Tom Hanks had the best double-breasted of the evening thanks to sweeping and well-
proportioned lapels. 
Mark Wahlberg was about the only man who could open his jacket and still look dressed.

Justin Timberlake wore his perfectly tailored Tom Ford dinner suit with the ease and confidence of a true gentleman.

And the winner is . . . 

Mr. Timberlake took a risk with the extra wide lapels and it paid off.  By keeping the rest of the details tastefully low-key he used the variation to add elegant flair to his ensemble and, at the same time, stature to his slim frame.

Special Achievement


The Elton John Oscar viewing party provided much more leeway for variations of formal attire than did the actual ceremony.  Most of the men who attempted to add a chic twist ended up looking mundane or half-dressed but True Blood's Ryan Kwanten knew exactly how to add style without sacrificing sophistication.
(The velvet bow tie is particularly natty.)

"Worst Dressed" Nominees


Hollywood seems to have taken notice that Oscar time is grown-up time and the juvenile sartorial experimentation of the past is no longer welcome (Russell Brand's outfit was likely a deliberate promotion of his bad boy image and Justin Bieber is still a juvenile so he's allowed to act that way.)  Therefore, this year the Guide is choosing nominees not as failed individuals but as representatives of trends that are failing men at large.

The black blob: Mrs. Bale is accompanied by her husband's floating head.

The wimpy wing collar:  Refreshingly rare at the Oscars, American males are still surprisingly enamored with this stubby and flaccid look.

The funeral suit: Keith Urban demonstrates the deadly dull hybrid of evening attire and mourning attire.

The naked navel: Even with his jacket closed Andrew Garfield shows almost as much shirt below the button as above.  Get a vest . . . and suspenders.

The micro lapel: Wide lapels add breadth to shoulders and counterbalance a large head.  Narrow lapels do this.

And the loser is . . . 

The shortcoming least able to channel black tie's intended elegance.


2010 Academy Awards


The Guide is thrilled to note that this year's ceremony was an embarrassment of black-tie riches.  One-button jackets, peaked lapels, low-cut waistcoats, self-tied bow ties and even stylish pocket squares all abounded on the red carpet.  Equally inspiring was the near-complete absence of wimpy wing collars.  It would appear that Hollywood has finally gotten the memo!

"Best Dressed" Nominees


Narrowing down the field to just five contenders was a tough job this year.  Matt Damon, Robin Thicke, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Fletcher, Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Broderick, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Gerard Butler all looked wonderful but the selected nominees' attention to detail set them apart them as truly exceptional.

  Bradley Cooper (in Tom Ford) beats out co-presenter Gerard Butler by properly covering his waist.

Past "Best Dressed" winner Forest Whitaker shows how to dress up a four-in-hand.

Couturier cum director Tom Ford combines classic touches (love the boutonniere) with a modern, trim cut.

Stanley Tucci radiates Old World elegance.

Chris Pine looks every inch the starship captain in Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

And the winner is . . . 


Tom Ford takes top honors not just for his outfit but also for his classically inspired influence on so many other celebrities.

Special Achievement

The ceremony's producers not only repeated the White Tie elegance of last year's opening number but also upped the ante by cladding the orchestra in classic white dinner jackets.


"Worst Dressed" Nominees


The remarkably high sartorial standards show by this year's attendees meant that the following misfits stand out like pack mules at the Kentucky Derby.

Joachim Back nails down the sloppy butler look with mismatched tailcoat & tie, exposed shirt waist and undone cuffs.

Judd Nelson backstage in an oversized suit, untucked & unbuttoned shirt finished and a knee-length wallet chain.

Jon Cryer was the dullest of the funeral director contingent that included Robin Williams and Jesse James.
This might have worked if the bow tie was not pre-fab.  And the waist was covered.  And the shoes were ... oh never mind.

One journalist described Quentin Tarantino's appearance as that of an unmade bed.  'Nuff said.

And the loser is . . . 


The homeless guy.

2009 Academy Awards

"Best Dressed" Nominees


The "boy, does he clean up good" award goes to Seth Rogan in a swank velvet tuxedo. 

Sartorial poetry: Daniel Craig in a Tom Ford midnight blue classic shawl collar with silk cuffs

Hugh Jackman in a perfectly detailed custom three-piece Burberry dinner suit.

Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel in another custom-tailored Burberry.

Robert Downey Jr. compensates for a pedestrian long tie by tastefully upping the flair of a classic jacket.

And the winner is . . .


While Mr. Patel had very stiff competition, he stands out for putting together this stylish and youthful take on the classics without the benefit of the inside track enjoyed by his Hollywood-savvy colleagues.


Special Achievement

Special mention goes to the ceremony's wardrobe stylists for being some of the last people in America who understand that the white-tie waistcoat should never extend below the tailcoat.


"Worst Dressed" Nominees


From crass to clueless.

Danny Boyle shows a fantastic ability to dress in formal clothes yet still look like a slob.

Lou Gossett Jr. once again seems utterly clueless about fit and refinement.

You're thirty one years old Joey.  Grow up.
Philip Seymour Hoffman tops off an overload of satin with a black toque in case of sudden snowfall.

This porn/rock star look would be fine for an L.A.  lunch but clearly misses the mark after dark.

And the loser is . . .. 

Given his general taste in clothes, it would not be surprising to learn that Rourke actually views "Worst Dressed" as a badge of honor. 


2008 Academy Awards

"Best Dressed" Nominees

These classy men know how to let their ladies shine.

Jason Bateman in a Dolce and Gabbana

Steve Carell in a custom Domenico Vacca.  Voted best dressed by Esquire.

Forest Whitaker in another custom Domenico Vacca

Sean Combs in a mixture of his Sean Jean label and Dolce & Gabana

Best & Worst: George Clooney in a shawl lapel with girlfriend in chintz curtains.

And the winner is . . .


Mr. Whitaker looks like he was born in a dinner jacket.  Perfect suit fit, proper sleeve length, elegant pocket square, self-tied bow tie and a dashing double-breasted coat.


"Worst Dressed" Nominees


What on earth were these men thinking?

Viggo Mortensen in a custom-made atrocity

Did Lou Gossett Jr. lose a bet?

Brown suede shoes and red lapel piping?

Josh Lucas gets a head start on the morning-after look.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman: great actor, lousy dresser.

And the loser is . . . 


Josh looks like a petulant teenager who was ordered to dress up by his parents but took his revenge by doing it as slovenly as humanly possible.
The other nominees at least put in some effort.