Review: Mr Porter Black Tie Advertorial

Posted on December 23, 2013


Capture

Mr Porter is an online retailer of designer goods for men and they are currently promoting formal wear and accessories.  As part of this Christmas campaign they have created a video “advterorial” for a luxury watchmaker Tudor that centres on black tie.

Titled “Then & Now: 1960 Black Tie Elegance” the video is laudable in communicating the sophistication and elegance associated with traditional men’s evening wear.  It features an appropriately swank setting, sophisticated cinematography and a smooth jazz soundtrack.  Its narration also includes some well-phrased  and sound advice right out of the Black Tie Guide such as how the ability to tie a bow tie “distinguishes the real men of style from the clip-on crowd”.  I particularly like the counsel in the accompanying text about how the time spent getting dressed “is an opportunity to turn your mind away from the trivial concerns of the day and towards the more serious business of having fun.”  

Where the production goes off the rails is in the details of the evening wear:

  • the pleated marcella shirt – amusingly mispronounced by the narrator as “marchella” – is  still creased from its packaging which makes the bosom look messy (not a great selling feature for a $670 garment)
  • the misguided omission of a waist covering completely exposes the bottom of said bosom as if the shirt had somehow shrunk four sizes
  • the ludicrously short jacket only adds to the uncovered expanse of white shirt that breaks in half what should be a unified black suit emphasizing height, power and intrigue
  • the black of the jacket appears mismatched with the black of the trousers
  •  the $6,000 featured timepiece is a chunky and busy-looking piece of hardware that, ironically, illustrates precisely how the wrong choice of wristwatch can throw off the refined minimalism that makes black tie so effective
The bottom of the shirt's (too short) bosom is totally exposed when the jacket is worn open . . .

The bottom of the shirt’s (too short) bosom is totally exposed when the jacket is worn open . . .

. . . and the shirt's belly is further exposed by the short jacket and low-rise trousers.

. . . and even when the jacket is closed there is a gaping expanse of uncovered shirt navel.

The minimal proportions of the shawl collar and the maximum proportions of the butterfly bow tie are completely out of synch.  (The fact that the jacket doesn't properly fit against the model's neck is not very aesthetically pleasing either.)

The outsized butterfly bow tie is out of synch with the minimal proportions of the shawl collar. The poor fit of the jacket’s collar behind the neck doesn’t help the outfit’s aesthetics either.  (Same for the half-grown beard.)

A proper black-tie dress watch should blend in seamlessly with the understated attire not stand out like a sore thumb.

A proper black-tie dress watch should blend in seamlessly with the understated ensemble rather than fight for attention with it.

I’m also puzzled by the video’s association of tuxedos with the 1960s as if the attire had not existed prior to that time.   (Presumably they are referring to the early ’60s; the late ’60s were a formalwear travesty.)  The script further suggests that the featured jacket’s slim shawl collars are a modern variance from the Sixties style when it fact they are a direct copy.  One thing that is different is that people back then knew well enough to pair narrow ties with the narrow lapels.  In the video the bow tie has the flared shape more typical to the 1930s making it noticeably incongruous with the dinner jacket.

Now this is how you do Sixties black tie.  Notice that Mr. Sinatra and Mr. Martin both took the effort to shave.

Now this is how you do early Sixties black tie.

So in the end the video captures neither the timeless elegance of the conventional dinner suit nor the swank flair of some modern tuxedos.  But hey, it’s still way better than the site’s other formalwear video “Five Ways to Wear the Dinner Jacket“.

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Thanks to reader Hal for pointing out the Mr Porter site.

Posted in: Formal Fashion