Flashback: Dynasty and Miami Vice Tuxedos

Posted on November 6, 2011

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In 1984 formalwear giant After Six capitalized on the hugely successful Dynasty series, a prime-time soap opera about a wealthy oil family.  It was a perfect pairing because the show  emphasized glitz and glamour and its characters were regularly cloaked in formal finery.  It was also perfect timing as the global economy was booming and America’s yuppies couldn’t get enough of the luxury lifestyle.

Click to see an original Dynasty tuxedo commercial.

The tuxedos were an instant success, accounting for half of the company’s sales in the year of their debut.   Consequently the collection was expanded the following year to include shirts, bow ties and cummerbunds as well as tailcoats, strollers and cutaways (yes, even traditional formal daywear made a comeback in the ’80s).

In 1986 After Six launched the Miami Vice line based on another hit TV series, this one featuring a pair of hip vice squad detectives with a penchant for the latest pastel-hued designer fashions.  Unlike the relatively conservative styles promoted by the Dynasty line for a relatively mature audience, the fashion-forward Miami Vice look was aimed specifically at the prom and wedding rental market.   And once again the line proved to be an instant success.

White Heat (modeled by Don Johnson) and Fiesta Blue jackets shown with their matching accessories.

Actual photos of some of the line’s jackets (from re-seller vintagetrends.com).

The original models were shawl-collar dinner jackets in South Beach-inspired hues named Flamingo, Fiesta Blue, White Heat and Purple Haze.  They were paired with white formal trousers appropriate for the show’s sub-tropical setting and accessorized with a bow tie & cummerbund to match the jacket.   The label’s success no doubt boosted the’ 80s vogue for matching cummerbund & tie sets which had been relatively rare prior to that time.  (In fact this trend became so ubiquitous over the course of the decade that I believe it was largely responsible for today’s generation’s impression of the cummerbund as little more than a retro novelty.)  Interestingly, After Six’s promotional materials all show the tuxedos being worn with turndown-collar formal shirts despite the fact that the wing collar was the overwhelmingly favourite choice for young dressers in the 1980s.

There were also a number of less iconic models available in this line.  A great post on a Miami Vice fan forum provides illustrations of shawl-collar and notch-lapel jackets in grey and black.  Trousers and accessories were also grey or black to match or contrast the jacket.  A variation on the White Heat model shown above was a white double-breasted notch-lapel jacket worn with the same white trousers and white accessories.  This included the white bow tie – a major faux pas among more sophisticated dressers who know it is never to be worn with anything but a tailcoat.

Finally, the line also included a Dolphin Grey tailcoat with matching accessories.  Oddly, custom-made versions of this model are still offered today by various Thai tailors.