Like many other North Americans I watched parts of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve special during last night’s festivities. The highlight for me was seeing Pitbull (the rapper behind the hit “Give Me Everything”) perform not just in a tuxedo but in classic black tie. Friends assumed I would be perturbed by his untied bow tie and unbuttoned shirt but I thought it was a smart way to give a century-old outfit a youthful, sexy edge without ruining its timeless elegance. In fact, the sight of the singer’s untied neckwear would be the first time that millions of young viewers likely realized that bow ties come in any format other than pre-tied clip-ons. It’s also likely these young fans discovered the truth about numerous other misconceptions fostered by generations of cheap prom and wedding rentals:
- a formal outfit looks much more polished when the waist is covered instead of baring the trouser waistband and bottom of the shirt front like so many other celebrities and wardrobe stylists insist on doing these days
- a single-button peaked-lapel tuxedo jacket will never be mistaken for a common suit jacket unlike the two-button notch lapel jackets that dominate mainstream tuxedos today
- formal shirts can have turndown collars instead of the ubiquitous wing collar and in fact look much more refined
- studs aren’t mandatory; the clean look of a fly-front (hidden button) formal shirt is a refreshing modern twist that is no less smart than the original
Like fellow rapper Sean Jean, Pitbull reminds me of a young Frank Sinatra in his ability to make a tuxedo as hip as it is elegant. Generation Y, take note.