The Do’s and Don’ts of Black Tie featuring The Oscars

In light of today’s Oscars I thought it would be a good opportunity to chat about Black Tie, most notably the do’s and the don’ts of the dress code. It’s crazy to think that among some of the world’s most rich and famous people, who can wear/buy any Tuxedo they want, that so many men still cannot get Black Tie right, it absolutely baffles me.

For me Black Tie is all about traditional tailoring. A tuxedo should be kept simple and understated. Flashy elements have no place in this dress code, or should they any time you’re wearing a suit. When the dress code says Black Tie it means a tuxedo and bow tie, never a neck tie and never a normal black suit. Trendy cuts, lapels and designs should also be avoided, like all fashion items these will date as trends change. Essentially, you should be able to buy one Tuxedo and wear it for the rest of your life – that’s the value of Black Tie, it’s timeless.

A few main points I’d like to make in regards to Black Tie are:

– Tuxedo should have a Peak or Shawl lapel, never a Notch.
– Bow Tie should always be worn, no excuses.
– Preferably jetted besom pockets, no flaps or flaps tucked in.
– Preferably single button on a single breasted jacket, two button is fine but the bottom button should never be buttoned up (Leo).
– Satin or grosgrain faced lapels and piping on the trousers.
– Traditionally the waistband of your trousers should be covered – this can be done three ways, a waist coat, a cummerbund or with a double-breasted jacket.
– Real traditionalists will opt for a patent leather pump with bow, less will opt for patent Oxfords and less again will opt for a black Oxford with no brogueing.

Keeping in mind my penchant for traditional Black Tie I’ve grabbed some images from today’s Oscars to discuss the Do’s and Don’ts of the Dress Code and added some commentary.


86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Chris Hemsworth in a classic shawl lapel and waistcoat.


Harrison Ford in a satin faced peak lapel and jetted besom pockets with no flaps. Note the size of his bow-tie to match the width of his lapels. Spot on.


Channing Tatum in a peak lapel jacket and dress shirt with studs. Bow tie is a bit of a let down but good effort from Channing.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Kevin Spacey in midnight blue. I was surprised not to see more blue. Spacey looks sharp in the two button tux with black satin faced lapels. His watch (an IWC) is a little large, distorting the sleeve. Dress watches should be subtle and hidden.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

I’m not a huge fan of the white Dinner Jacket but of all the executions on the night Leto pulled it off the best.

Pitt and Angelina

Brad’s wide shawl lapel is a perfect example of how to wear a tuxedo with this lapel type.

Bradley Cooper takes best dressed of the evening. Solid tux, shirt, studs and bow tie combo – patent leather shoes optional.



Brit Benedict Cumberbatch shaming Savile Row with a horrific black neck tie and knot.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Bono and his U2 goons doing absolutely everything wrong.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Christian Bale wears black on black on black. No.

Leo and Christoph

Christoph and Leo appear to be in the same ‘tux’. Leo just can’t get it right, notch lapel is so crook and he always has his bottom button done up.

86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Waist up is acceptable. Shorts, don’t get me started.

Jason’s beard and hair look excellent, notch lapel and bottom button done up let him down.

Efron’s done well here with tux choice, shame about the skinny tie.

Will Smith. Open shirt. Fail.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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