The Emperor’s New Tuxedo: Naked Navels

BOSS "Stars/Glamor" by Hugo Boss.

BOSS “Stars/Glamor” by Hugo Boss.

Ever get the feeling the fashion industry is little more than a barometer of consumer gullibility?

Here I was thinking that celebrities of late have been sporting exposed shirt waists on the red carpet because they were oblivious to the way that the unbroken lines of a tuxedo’s black trousers and matching jacket imbue men with height, stature and dramatic presence.

Silly me.  Turns out they were just following the lead of upscale tuxedo designers.

Yes, some cabal of fearless fashionistas have decided that a perfect way to improve the peerless sophistication and elegance of a formal suit is to disrupt it with a  patch of shirt sticking out above one’s crotch.  Not content with mere glimpses of cotton navels as a byproduct of the industry’s banishment of traditional waist coverings, these aesthetic geniuses are now cleverly employing excessively tight jackets and comically low-cut trousers to ensure the shirt waist is featured front and centre.  Sadly, even the traditional stalwarts of American sartorial  taste and class Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren have fallen for this bad joke.

I can’t wait for these impeccable arbiters of style to give us the thumbs up to promenade around  swank black-tie galas with our shirt tails  untucked and our ties discarded.  It’s not like the fashion world ever led us astray, right?

BOSS "Sky/Gala" by Hugo Boss

BOSS “Sky/Gala” by Hugo Boss

Brooks Brothers Regent fit tuxedo.

Brooks Brothers Regent fit tuxedo.

Black Label "Anthony" tuxedo by Ralph Lauren.

Black Label “Anthony” tuxedo by Ralph Lauren.

For the record, here’s a comparison I created to demonstrate how an uncovered waist severs the body into parts while a properly covered waist creates a unified whole:

2010_RL_c_crop_comparison

19 Comments

  1. jovantheun1337

    We could bear with these things if they’d only keep their waist covered!

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      Do you mean covered by a closed jacket? Trendy designers have made this impossible by creating jackets so small and tight that the fronts pull away from each other below the button.

      Reply
      1. Jovan

        I meant cummerbunds or waistcoats.

        Reply
        1. Peter Marshall

          Neatly conceal the underlying shirt with a swank waist covering? How old-fashioned. Vapid trendsetters have been scoffing at this commonsense notion ever since the turn of the millennium.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            So, the only solution is a very high rise pants. But this would be more despised by trendy minds.

          2. Jovan

            Many of these people would point to James Bond as an example of someone who forgoes waist covering most of the time. However, as I point out in my blog post, his trousers sat at his waist or close to it in these cases. Even in Skyfall where he wears a cummerbund they do.

            I think trendy minds are going to change in a few years anyway. There are signs of it already happening. For example, despite the low rise trousers J. Crew sells (even the “Classic” trousers sit low, I just recently tried them on), their jackets actually hit below the buttocks and the fastening is back at the waist. Keep in mind that both shorter jacket skirts and higher fastening were trendy in the 1960s, yet the natural waisted trousers still gave men the appearance of long legs.

  2. Minnesotaboy

    And — made even worse by the “pants as jeans” look — trousers not even near the natural waist. With some of these, the pants are so low we might still see a white gap of shirt below a normally placed cummerbund or vest. In the end, three bad trends converging: no waist coverings, tight jackets with gaps, and pants on the hips. As a result, the eye is drawn immediately down, away from the face, and towards the stomach. That’s not a way to make a man look good. In truth, it’s one of the easiest ways to make him look bad. Every time, too, And even for otherwise handsome men. Only question is whether this is one of the top two easiest-to-remedy mistakes (along with long ties), just one of the top five.

    Thanks, Peter, once again.

    Reply
    1. Jovan

      I really don’t understand it. It’s the easiest way to make a man of average height look shorter than he really is, a tall man to look outright gawky, and bigger men to look, well, more portly.

      Reply
  3. A. R

    Only the modern fashion industry could decide to make a sartorial fault “fashionable.” It’s like a sommelier declaring cork taint to be a desired feature in a wine. I’ll stick with my waistcoats and properly cut jackets and trousers, thank you very much.

    Reply
  4. Duncan Pike

    I think people are mistaking looking sloppy or informal for looking young and dynamic. As a short man (5’7″) I love what my classically styled Tuxedo does for me.

    Reply
  5. Duncan Pike

    On the topic of consumer gullibility, I recently won a gift certificate, and was using it for a new suit. I was hoping to get a fairly formal, very classic navy suit, with peak lapels. The store didn’t have such a suit, so I moved on to a different idea, but the store owner was puzzled by my wanting 3.5″ peak lapels; she asked why. I said I wanted a more formal suit – to be a go to for weddings, meetings, job interviews, etc, as I was actually without a suit at the time. Again she asks “but why peaks.” I said “Peaks are more formal.” She tells me she disagrees, and that, except on double breasted jackets, when you see a peak lapel nowadays, it is “cheeky” – a deliberate anachronism, I think she meant. I argued that formal jackets are not meant to have a notch lapel, and she tells me I’m thinking of a shawl collar. I get that her store is geared toward the fashion conscious consumer, rather than the style conscious, but it would appear she does not know fashion either, as peak lapels (that are wider as well) have been making a very strong comeback on suits for a couple of years now.

    Her tailor also messed up my jacket alterations and I had to make him fix his mistakes.

    Reply
    1. anonymous

      She has no idea what she is talking about. even you can find a peaked lapel sport coat without difficult

      Reply
  6. BW_UK

    Waistcoats. It’s the only way forward…

    ;o)

    Reply
    1. Duncan Pike

      I have come to appreciate the cummerbund as well. I used to think of it as outdated and odd, but that is because I was looking at it in isolation. On their own, they are utterly silly looking. When put together with a proper Black Tie outfit, however, they help to create the all important continuity of colour. Their textures can also add richness to the appearance of the complete man. That said, I am a waistcoat fan; I own a waistcoat, and not a cummerbund. My vintage waistcoat, with silk shawl revers, and a shield-shaped opening, is my favourite part of my Black Tie ensemble. I think I will almost always prefer a waistcoat, but I plan to get a vintage cummerbund, as they are quite inexpensive to obtain. Then, should the mood ever descend to change things up, I have the option.

      Reply
    2. anonymous

      Agree.

      Reply
  7. Dent

    The saddest part is that the silhouette made by these jackets is terrific.

    If they’d ease the waist a little, lower the button stance, and make the jacket longer, the damage would be minimal.

    Reply
    1. Duncan Pike

      Or just cut a different angle at the button point, so that the skirt ends fall straight down, instead of sweeping away, almost like a morning coat.

      Reply
      1. Jovan

        It might be how they’ve pinned back the models’ jackets. I’ve tried on many a suit that looked way more waist suppressed and cut away than on the website. It could also possibly be a revival of the ’60s style cutaway front jacket. The thing is, those jackets were accompanied with higher rise trousers than these so showing shirt wasn’t an issue.

        Reply
  8. about daniel bryan

    It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this paragraph as well as from our dialogue made here.

    Reply

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