Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Emmy or Isn't He?

(The first annual "Best Dressed Man at the Emmys" award)
Chapter 33
The Emmy Awards has come and gone, that multimillion-dollar orgy of smug self-congratulation for managing to fill the earth's airwaves for another year with show after show after show of mind-numbing sameness. Yay! With any luck, the aliens that have been monitoring our television transmissions since 1948 can't figure out the change to digital broadcasting, and will assume our society has imploded under the weight of its own dullness. Which wouldn't be that far off the mark, come to think of it.

But enough of that -- on to the clothes! No, not the dresses, we'll leave that to, well, everyone else. Here, the focus is on the masculine side of things. I've tortured myself on your behalf, watching hours of the Yearly Travesty, to bring you a representative sample of the good, the bad, the ugly, and worse, when it comes to Hollywood formal wear.

Seth Myers made the comment on the red carpet, that the "best dressed man doesn't look as good as the worst dressed woman," and that "no one wants to see the tuxes." Well, Seth, I would only add that you may be right, but only because most of the men all dressed so poorly. There were a very few instances of truly properly dressed gents, and yes, they were notable by their neat appearance.

The first thing to note, is that in contrast to the Tony awards, which I covered in a previous installment, the overall look was more trendy and far less classic. And the second thing to note, is that the further off-track from the classic tuxedo one deviates, the worse one looks. It was demonstrated here again and again.

As per the tradition here, the photos here were taken on the red carpet, before the ceremony, at the start of the evening -- so theoretically, the outfits are at their freshest, best, and least rumpled. The examples are given in natural light for the overall impression, and then I turn up the contrast, so we can study the details.

Let's start with the least painful examples, and gradually descend into the depths of sartorial Perdition; then I will give my ruling and present the Dress Like A Grown-Up! Award for Best-Dressed At The Emmys.

 I'll start out with Jim Parsons, for the simple reason that he was the only person in attendance wearing a waistcoat, as well as the only person wearing a batwing bow tie. The entire ensemble is inky black velvet, with silk covered buttons and peak lapels. The fit is spot-on: notice the width of the shoulders and the length of the sleeves.

Now let's turn up the contrast:

There are some errors here: you can see pulls across the chest of the jacket, as it strains against the button point. This jacket is designed to be worn open, and should be worn so. No fault of Jim's, but the jacket itself is cut too short; notice the stingy length of the hem. The jetted pockets, single button, lack of a breast pocket, and the high peaked hand stitched lapels tick all the right boxes. A longer hem would make it look a little less bottom-heavy, as would a bit more shaping to the chest...

Or would it? Wait for it.....

You can see how simply wearing the jacket open solves many of the apparent fit problems across the chest. The wrinkles and pulls fall out, the waist suppression falls into place, and the whole thing sits easier on him. Is it perfect? No -- I wouldn't have gone with velvet for the waistcoat and trousers, and Jim should have worn braces with his trousers: you can see the dreaded Flash of Shirt under the waistcoat. Still, he wins Runner-Up for Best Dressed of the night in my estimation, for the use of this classic cut with the waistcoat, instead of ditching it like everyone else did.

Next, let's look at Jeremy Piven. Jeremy frustrates me at these events: it's obvious he knows what formal wear is supposed to be, has very good taste, knows what looks good on him, and wears it well. He just always bends the rules too far. Here, the shoes are sharp, trouser length is perfect, sleeve length is perfect, shoulders are elegant and the overall silhouette is fantastic. So why would he ruin the effect with a long tie and unbuttoned collar?! Why, Jeremy, WHY?

Let's turn up the contrast and take a closer look at that jacket... 

The jacket is elegant and correct at all points -- just look at those grosgrain silk lapels! But having stepped right up to the line of perfection, Piven backed off with the hiphugger pants and awful tie. Just imagine this jacket with real pants, a matching grosgrain bow and cummerbund, with the jacket worn open! So close, Jeremy, so very, very close.

Oh, bee-tee-doubleyou: I'm fairly certain you had sufficient prior warning of this event to have scheduled a shave. Just sayin'.

I must say I expected better of Hugh Laurie. Proper formal wear is in the British DNA, after all. This looks a little awkward on him, which is surprising. You can immediately see his sleeves are too long, as are his trousers, and his shoes are some sort of grey suede. Let's look closer...

Here we see the problem. Although the overall length is correct, the three-button stance makes the fronts far too long for his already tall frame. Even though he (quite correctly) wears it at the second button, the lapels are rolling to the first. This gives a stubby lapel and that weird tube-shape to his silhouette. The shoulders are too wide as well. And notch lapels? Hugh, old bean, what were you thinking?

Jimmy Fallon, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. Most comedians go for shock and ridiculousness in their evening wear. Jimmy's tux was fitted and tailored well, and he wore a bow tie and very nice classic starched-collar shirt. The collar shape, although you can't see it in this picture, was perfect for him. Such things do matter.
He followed the trend (erroneously, I believe) of narrow notch lapels, low trousers and no vest or cummerbund; but it fit so well I could almost overlook that. Almost.
Will Arnett went similarly classic, but did Jimmy one better by going for the peak lapel.

Of a greater shock was LL Cool J, who, despite the silly hat, looked amazing. His trousers fit -- and do you notice the lack of shirt-flash under the jacket? Could this be a cummerbund in play?

Yes, there were minor style problems: it's a notch-lapel, and wearing a white tie is bending the black-tie rules just a little, and it is a button-two, and he is wearing it closed...BUT look at the fit, look at the lines!  See the shaping over the chest, and the cutaway of the fronts? Very well, done, L. (Can I call you L?)

One way to skirt the issue of trouser height without deferring to braces, cummerbunds, or waistcoats, is to simply employ the option of the double-breasted jacket. They are completely correct for evening wear, simply a more casual option. Let's look at the details of Jon Hamm's jacket.

This is a six-button-two, buttoned at the top button. Unlike single-breasted tuxedos, which should always be worn unbuttoned, a double-breasted jacket should always be worn buttoned like this. The shawl collar is perfect for the casual lines of this style, and notice the cuff at the wrist? A nice Edwardian touch. It may be the style of Mad Men rubbing off on him, but Jon got this outfit right in spades.

Topher Grace is also wearing a double-breasted model, in midnight blue, albeit with much less success. A hallmark of good formal wear is a generous expanse of shirtfront to just above the waist. The unbroken swath of black gives him the "I'm a funeral director" look, rather than a look that says "I'm at a gala party." Let's see why that is...

First, there's not nearly enough shirt showing. The long tie just covers too much. The lapels are a problem: they're rather broad and awkwardly shaped. The button stance is too tall, the waist point is too high, and it's the wrong size -- it hangs from the lapels and drags forward. Good effort, but it's a swing and a miss. Back to the dugout for you.

These next few guys are examples of a disturbing fashion trend. I won't even bother to show these in natural light, but we'll jump straight to the high-contrast. You've seen one, you've seen them all...

Chris Colfer was the worst offender. The jacket is horrid, short and shapeless, with wee little tiny lapels. The skinny little tie and skinny little trousers just give the effect of some kinda grotesque, Tim Burtonesque marionette.

Colfer may be excused for just following blind fashion labels, he's young enough to not know any better, although some one should really have told him he looks like an idiot.

Not so Rainn Wilson; he's too old to dress like this. The sad little lapels and tiny bow tie make him look like he's a bobblehead trying to squeeze into Pee-Wee Herman's tux. There's no elegance here, nor drape, nor shape, nor anything that gives a tuxedo its sense of easy elegance. Like Colfer, he looks uncomfortable just having to wear it.

Blues Brother or Man In Black? Wilmer Valderrama does know better than this; he should be ashamed for blatantly following such a cheesy fashion trend. Itsy-bitsy lapels and skinny tie notwithstanding, it's not even a tux, just a black suit...and he's showing way too much bling for a formal affair anyhow.

And we continue our slide, ever downward into the quicksand of inexplicable sartorial choices.

Ian Somerhalder is a poster-boy illustration of what goes horribly wrong when an Average Guy tries to do formal without any real knowledge of what he is doing. Perhaps his handler shoved this tux in his hands, and he was told to wear it. Maybe he had to get someone else to tie his tie. Maybe no one told him that perhaps a haircut and wash would make him look like less of a douchebag. Regardless of any of this, here he stands, a loathsome smarmy grin on his face, agonizingly self-aware of how good he thinks he looks.

And here's the train wreck. Nina Dobrev obviously took a little bit of care with her appearance. Contrast that with the slouchy, I'm-here-with-my-mommy posture, lank hair, askew tie, hands jammed in his pockets, pants around his hips, and that same Bell's-Palsy-grin. Absolutely shameful: this could be the drawing in my very first post, illustrating the disparity in maturity of "adult little boys" who don't dress like grownups.

The puzzle that is Ian complexifies a bit in high-contrast, for here we can see that his jacket is, in fact, very, very nice! Jetted pockets, shawl lapels, and very well shaped and proportioned, from the shoulders right down to the hem. And notice the link-front buttons! What we have here, then, isn't a bad outfit -- merely the complete inability to wear it. If he had completed the outfit, whether by cummerbund or vest, tied his tie better, and worn the jacket opened, this would have been a very nice outfit. Too bad his acting experience hasn't yet extended to displaying elegance. Or insouciance.

Jon Cryer: Leather lapels? Really? Really?

Steve Buscemi: tall and thin, he is the ideal build for a tuxedo. He should be able to pull of a fitted, broad-chested look that is classic and elegant. So why, why does he always look like a Goth scarecrow? Scorcese, who is built like a fire hydrant, wears a tux so much better. Of course, he comes from an era when guys knew how to wear tuxes.

This next group is so wrong, they don't even deserve the high-contrast studies. A glance shows their errors in stark relief.

Michael Pitt, who is channeling either Hamlet, Johnny Cash, Anakin Skywalker, or a kabuki puppeteer. His date has apparently killed an emu in the parking lot for a snack later.

Oh, my, Joel McHale has stolen a tux from a twelve-year old, and is wearing it inside-out! Oh, the humanity! Oh, the humiliation!

Alan Cumming has apparently gone insane again. His sleeves are far too long, his lapels aren't silk lined, and, although he IS wearing a proper cummerbund, the odd square-cut fronts of his jacket and low button position are a little outre for this venue.

And, oh yes...the geisha pants.

Seal shows more cleavage than Heidi. I need say no more.

There are more -- many more -- examples with which I may scorch your retinas, but I will force myself to stop just shy of the Worst Dressed Attendee. Instead, I shall reverse course, and end on a high note.
And that high note, is the First Annual Dress Like A Grown-Up Best-Dressed Guy At The Emmys, who I award to...

David Boreanaz.

The tux is absolutely classic. The details are all there: the perfect amount of pocket square showing, the bow tie of ideal proportion, the shirt collar crisp and starched. There is not a hint of shirt showing under the jacket. And most importantly, he wears the tux; the tux does not wear him. He strikes the casually elegant ideal; dressed perfectly and seemingly effortlessly.

The jacket is deepest midnight blue, with shawl collar and jetted pockets. The only deviation from classic standard is that the silk facing doesn't run all the way to the edge of the lapels. The length, proportions, and size are all spot-on -- length, button-point, sleeves, shoulders, chest shaping, are just what and where they should be. In short, all the areas where others have failed by changing the proportion, he triumphs by preserving them.

Is it perfect? No...It should still have been worn unbuttoned and with a cummerbund, but without one, buttoning is the next best thing. The tie knot is a little small to my eyes: one a bit more substantial would have looked nice.

Congratulations, David...Seth Meyers may not be looking at the tuxes, but your sartorial insight did not go unnoticed in this little corner of the interweb.

So what have we learned from the parade of black suits on the red carpet?

One, the going fashion aberration is tiny little lapels, short jackets, and hiphugger pants, the silhouette that of a boy who has outgrown his childhood coat but continues wearing it...

Two: no one knows dinner jackets are supposed to be worn unbuttoned, or that your shirt is only supposed to be seen as far as the jacket's button point, arrested by a cummerbund or waistcoat. A bit of shirt showing under those short jackets is thus the sad standard.

Third: designer labels mean nothing. I don't care if your tux was designed by John St. Ugliè. I would respect you more if you said your tux was made by a 90 year old man I've never heard of, who works in a basement in an alley of Jermyn St., and it took him eight months of stitching by hand to make it.

And finally, fourth: there's no excuse for these blazingly rich Hollywood darlings to not have fitted, bespoke classic tuxedos. They have mountains of cash to spend on jets to Savile Row for multiple fittings, and a highly public lifestyle to make such purchases a wise investment.

Click here to go to the next essay chronologically.

Click here to go to the next annual "Best Dressed Man at the Emmys" award.

Click here to go back to the previous essay chronologically.

Click here to go back to the beginning.

No comments:

Post a Comment