White Tie in Vanity Fair

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This month’s issue of Vanity Fair features Robert Downey Jr. in full dress on the cover and in one of the photos for the accompanying article.  There is no reference to the outfit other than to say it is supplied by Giorgio Armani.  However, it’s nice to see it done correctly in light of the turndown collar version the same magazine used for Jon Hamm in their June issue (a faux pas also favoured by President Obama).

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8 Comments

  1. Jovan

    Never saw the Jon Hamm cover, but shame on Vanity Fair of all magazines for getting that so wrong. Not only is it a turndown collar on a plain shirt, they use a white silk bow tie! They should know better.

    Thankfully the Downey, Jr. cover makes up for it.

    Reply
  2. CharlesM

    Not to mention Hamm’s beard stubble and wristwatch.

    I would second Mr. Marshall’s comment re: the Downey Jr article that it is nice to see it done correctly. The difference is also somewhat startling in its effect.

    Reply
  3. James W

    Can anyone explain why wing collars look so much better for white tie? People would be more inclined to follow the rules if they knew the reasons for them (myself included).

    On a previous blog post, Peter (our host) described notch lapel silk facings as having a “droopy look.” That apt comment led me to reflect on why peaked and shawl lapels look so much better on the dinner jacket, and was wondering if someone here had a similar concise explanation for the problem with the white bow tie / fold down collar combo.

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      The difference between wing collars with white tie vs black tie is, well, black and white. While a white bow tie’s band works in understated harmony with the white shirt collar, the band of a black bow tie stands out like a sore thumb. It’s kind of like wrapping a contrasting cummerbund outside the tuxedo jacket rather than underneath it.

      As for wearing ordinary shirt collars with full dress, it flies in the face of full dress being anything but ordinary. From the tailed coat to the single-link-cuff pique-front shirt to the white waistcoat to the patent-leather pumps, everything about white tie is meant to be the epitome of formal.

      Reply
  4. James W

    Thank you for your input, Peter.

    After reflecting on this, I also realized that a wing collar will be higher at the sides and have a deep “V” in front of the neck, especially if it is the tall detachable type. Even though Robert Downey wears an attached wing collar, there is still a difference compared to the common shirt collar.

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    1. Peter Marshall

      Yes, detachable collars often rose to the jawline to essentially frame the wearer’s face.

      Reply
  5. Gino

    I don’t necessarily agree with the expression of distaste for wing collars with black tie. I prefer the classic 30s look with a peaked lapel jacket, black waistcoat, and boiled front formal shirt with high detachable wing collar. I understand the disdain, though, for the modern pleated front shirt with attached wimpy wing collar.

    Reply
    1. Jovan

      Matter of taste but I feel a medium to wide spread collar just looks so much more rakish and suave in black tie, especially paired a shawl collar dinner jacket. With peak lapels, a marcella shirt works just fine for its slightly higher formality level. But if you must wear a wing collar with black tie then what you described is exactly how to do it.

      Reply

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