If the past 10 years have taught us anything about fashion, it’s that what’s done is destined to be redone. There’s comfort in breathing new life into a timeless piece, so it should come as no surprise that a new decade begins with a reimagination of the tuxedo in ways that are well suited to holiday party dressing and answering that end-of-year sartorial conundrum: What are you wearing New Year’s Eve?
The tuxedo is a fashion-show standard but, earlier this fall, they flooded both men’s and women’s spring 2020 runways as a symbol of the past, present and future of a more gender-fluid approach to style. For women, it was a return to the 1960s and 70s, with three-piece suits at Louis Vuitton, Celine and Gucci. With wide lapels, single-button blazers and elongated flared pants, these styles channeled Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Le Smoking suit from 1966, which turned a generation of women on to a more androgynous look. More than half a century after its debut, Le Smoking still looms large in the minds of style savants.
As for the men’s forecast for 2020: mesh, collarless shirts were worn underneath tuxedos at Versace, while Alyx lost the shirt altogether, signalling a looser, more casual take on this once stuffy signifier. “When you go to a black-tie event, you think it needs to fit into a certain box, but I want to feel comfortable and like myself,” says Matthew Chow, one of five stylists we asked to share their idiosyncratic take on the tux for this spread. Chow and his peers infused their suits with elements of sportiness, drama and seduction in varying measures. To each their own tuxedo.
“You can very easily get a suit that’s co-ordinated from head to toe, but I like the challenge of putting pieces together from different brands and noticing the small little detail that each has to offer. I dress very casually every day, so for me, it’s about breaking down the stereotypical suit and incorporating it into my own personal style. There are sporty elements, like wearing a mesh shirt and not pairing it with a tie, and wearing a Chelsea boot instead of a formal shoe.”
“I’m very much a jeans and sneakers kind of lady, and when I do dress up, I typically prefer dresses. I don’t like to have to touch up myself too much and I find dresses to be less maintenance. I couldn’t find a matching bottom that suited my style, so I created my own formal tuxedo look. I’m about staying true to my personal aesthetic, so I do like to play with long coattails and shiny shoes. These are all pieces I feel really comfortable in and I don’t have to do much adjusting to. I like low maintenance”
“I wanted to do an homage to Yves Saint Laurent’s classic Le Smoking tux as photographed by Helmut Newton. I normally dress a little boyish, trendy and I live in jeans and T-shirts, so I tend to add in the glam at night. [The label] feels really authentic and vintage right now, and true to original YSL. A friend of mine and I were talking about how we have so much stuff that we don’t wear, so we wanted to start having dinners where we show up wearing our most extreme outfits.”
“My look is a little seventies-inspired, because when my mind goes to women in a tuxedo, that’s where it goes … seventies doing thirties, but now. I had the shirts customized by Susan Dicks because I can never find the peaked collar I like. The thing I love about a tuxedo is that it’s so versatile, you can wear it with a pair of sneakers or heels. You can be sexy or stick your hands in your pockets and be a tomboy. It works so well across the board.”
“I’m wearing a Dior Men take on a tuxedo by Kim Jones, who has been one of my favourite designers forever. He’s always had a unique approach that infuses a drama and sportiness into his creations. I wanted something sleek and minimal, but that also had that element of drama that you want when you’re wearing something formal because you’re stepping it up. You’re being the extra sensory version of yourself.”
Makeup and hair by Brittany Sinclair for Dior/Joico/P1M.ca.
Makeup and hair assistant: Jenna Burrell.
Styling Assistant: Samantha Best for P1M.ca.
Photo assistant: Ajwad Kabir.
These interviews have been condensed and edited.