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A Final Bit of Style Advice

October 11, 2002|Jeannine Stein

Dear Fashion Police: I noticed at the recent Emmy Awards that many men wore four-in-hand ties instead of the usual black bow tie. Is this a new trend and, if so, what color tie is best with a black tuxedo and white shirt?


Dear Surveying: There is indeed a trend going on, Mr. Up on Things! For the past few years more and more male celebs have opted out of the traditional tuxedo and instead are donning dark suits with white shirts and neckties. A major indicator that things were changing was when Steve Martin hosted the awards in 2001 in a suit. While there were still some tux holdouts at the recent Emmys, actors Michael Chiklis, Kelsey Grammer, Ray Romano, Kiefer Sutherland, Tom Hanks, Bernie Mac, Peter Krause and Richard Schiff all went tux-less. If three's a trend, as the saying goes, this constitutes a major sartorial shift.

If you're wondering why, ask a man--any man--how he feels about wearing a tuxedo and he'll probably mimic self-strangulation or say, "I wouldn't be caught dead in that penguin costume." In other words, most men loathe tuxedos and given a choice between that and a suit they'll pick the latter every time.

We have a couple of theories about why this award show trend started. One is that our culture has experienced a major movement toward casual dressing in the last decade or so, helped along by stars who donned T-shirts with their Armani suits. But that doesn't track with the fact that women at these events often dress to the nines--or even the tens--to take that publicity-grabbing stroll down the red carpet. That leads us to theory No. 2: Since so much attention is heaped upon the gals and their gowns, the guys probably figure that no one really cares if they wear a tuxedo or not. They could probably show up in Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and few would bat an eye. Let's face it--men's formalwear isn't all that exciting. As long as the men are clean and presentable the public is happy.

As to your question about what color tie is best with a black tuxedo and white shirt, a black bow tie is best. In fact, men shouldn't even think about adulterating a tuxedo by substituting a four-in-hand tie. It's a fashion faux pas to wear a regular tie with a tux. It's like wearing sneakers with a ball gown. With a tux a man has to go the whole nine yards, no exceptions at all. Not even a celebrity.

From the Fashion Police blotter: All good things must come to an end, according to the hackneyed phrase, and this column is no exception.

This is our final Fashion Police column, and if you'll allow us to slip into the first person, I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed over the years because without you there would have been no column.

I didn't know what to expect four years ago when I started Fashion Police at the suggestion of my editor. What burning clothing issues were on the minds of men, women and children? What perplexing fashion problems stymied even the most stylish fashion plates? Little did I know that many women pine for breast pockets in their jackets, that people are sick of seeing their co-workers dress like slobs on casual Fridays and that no one has any idea what to wear to a wedding.

You haven't always agreed with me, but even your most vitriolic letters and e-mails were welcomed, because getting your feedback--good, bad or ugly--became my raison d'etre (please forgive the pretentious use of French).

At the very least I hope my advice has helped you get dressed without too much Sturm und Drang (please forgive the pretentious use of German) and that once dressed you feel a bit more confident. And never forget the most important thing of all: They're only clothes.

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