2014 Academy Awards Red Carpet

Posted on March 4, 2014

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Part of an ongoing series spotlighting the (in)ability of the men on the red carpet to capture the timeless elegance and sophisticated equivalence of black tie, whether through careful adherence to its conventions or skilful manipulation of them. (Readers unfamiliar with the standards of successful black tie may want to first check out A Field Guide to Tuxedos.)

(Ethan Miller / Getty)

(Ethan Miller / Getty)

The 2014 Oscars were a reflection of the conservative red-carpet trends we’ve been seeing for the past few years.  One-button jackets and proper bow ties are holding their own and it even seems possible that the notch lapel is starting to lose ground.  Well, at least among the celebs: minor players still can’t get enough of notch lapels, two buttons and long ties. Also continuing is the regrettable preference for skintight suits, low pants and uncovered waists.

Exceptional

The following examples demonstrate the tuxedo’s potential fulfilled, illustrating why black tie has been unequalled in its ability to transform a man and inspire an evening for over a century.

12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor in a Rake tuxedo. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor in a Rake tuxedo. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

Lone Ranger star Armie Hammer.  (David Livingston Getty Images)

Lone Ranger star Armie Hammer at the Vanity Fair party. (David Livingston Getty Images)

Jon Hamm (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Jon Hamm (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Ryan Seacrest in Burberry (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Ryan Seacrest in Burberry.  There were a number of white dinner jackets on the red carpet but Seacrest shows how to do it right.  (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Commendable

Admirable efforts.  Excluded from the highest honours due to minor shortcomings but nonetheless very respectable examples for the average man to emulate.

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Bradley Cooper (in Tom Ford) missed the best dressed list only because his suit’s fit wasn’t up to his usual standards.  (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Chace Crawford in Girogio Armani (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Actor Chace Crawford adds tasteful variation with subtle texture in his Giorgio Armani tuxedo. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Matthew McConaughey in ivory Dolce & Gabbana (Axelle / Bauer-Griffin)

The fit of Matthew McConaughey’s ivory and black Dolce & Gabbana is elegant, if not quite up to Seacrest’s example.  (Axelle Woussen / Bauer-Griffin)

Brad Pitt returns to the ranks of the well-dressed thanks partly to his Tom Ford tuxedo.

Brad Pitt returns to the ranks of the well-dressed thanks partly to his Tom Ford tuxedo.

Harrison Ford in Giorgio Armani. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Harrison Ford in Giorgio Armani. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Michael Fassbender in Tom Ford (ABC / Rick Rowell)

Michael Fassbender’s Tom Ford could fit a bit better but at least he wore a waist covering. (ABC / Rick Rowell)

Ben Affleck (Alberto E. Rodriguez /  WireImage)

Ben Affleck is surprisingly well dressed considering his poor track record.  (Alberto E. Rodriguez / WireImage)

Joseph Gordon Levitt in Calvin Klein (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Like Chace Crawford, Joseph Gordon-Levitt also shows off a bit of texture in his Calvin Klein tuxedo. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Tom Ford in a more low-key take on blue.  Maybe not kosher for the red carpet but perfectly suitable for the after party. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Tom Ford in a blue velvet dinner jacket. Maybe not kosher for the red carpet but perfectly suitable for the after party. (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Debatable

Tastefully off the mark. Thought-provoking variations not necessarily recommended for viewers at home.  Most likely to be chosen “best dressed” by fashionistas who neglect to put the outfit in context.

burgundy

The boys in burgundy: Former NFLer Michael Strahan, actor Joshua Jackson in Berluti, Thor star Chris Hemsworth in David August.  While definitely dressy (if somewhat busy), these ensembles don’t offer the same formality of a conventional tuxedo.  (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images, (Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images, uncredited)

Tyler Perry in Martin Katz (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Jeremey Renner Riccardo Tisci tuxedo (ABC / Rick Rowell)

White tie contingent: Writer/director Tyler Perry in Martin Katz and actor Jeremey Renner in Riccardo Tisci.  White bow ties work very well with open tailcoats, matching white vests and tall detachable collars but with the more informal black-tie outfit they just disappear into the shirt. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images, ABC / Rick Rowell)

Neil Patrick Harris (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Neil Patrick Harris.  Grey has been a popular alternative as of late but while it may make for an interesting suit it can’t provide the dramatic contrast and intrigue that black or very dark blue does.  (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Jared leto (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Jared Leto’s Saint Laurent ivory jacket is fine . . . if you can get past the bright bow tie and cascading locks. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Kevin Spacey in Burberry.  Midnight blue evening wear, yes.  Royal blue, no.  (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Kevin Spacey in Burberry. Midnight blue evening wear, yes. Royal blue, no. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Forgettable

More insipid than inspired. Examples of bland execution that will hopefully inspire others to step up their game.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Armani (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Leonardo DiCaprio (in Armani) traded up his usual long tie but but traded down his usual peak lapel jacket. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Jonah Hill (ABC / Rick Rowell)

Jonah Hill demonstrates the tuxedo as business suit. (ABC / Rick Rowell)

Zac Efron in character as a well-dressed accountant.  Yawn. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

Zac Efron in character as a formal accountant. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

Regrettable

Good intentions, bad choices.

Bill Murray ( Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Bill Murray sports a bright green pre-tied bow tie and a suit that creases like it was made out of linen. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Will Smith (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

It seems that every red carpet has at least one guy that thinks he can do without a tie.  This year that guy is Will Smith. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Kellan Lutz (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Actor Kellan Lutz’s suit is ridiculously tight (a highly impractical choice when wearing French cuffs) and festooned with at least one too many accents. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Ewan McGregor appears to have picked up his suit from the women's department.  (Kevork Djansezian / Getty, Jon Kopaloff / Getty)

Ewan McGregor appears to have picked up his suit from the women’s department. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty, Jon Kopaloff / Getty)

Laughable

Hall of Shame candidates.  The most blatant bastardizations and sophomoric interpretations of formal convention, whether due to naïve ignorance or smug self-importance.  The results denigrate both the wearer and the occasion.

Chritian Bale in Dolce & Gabbana (ABC / Rick Rowell)

Christian Bale (in Dolce & Gabbana) is back to his usual look of a bland and dishevelled mass of black. (ABC / Rick Rowell)

U2 (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Believe it or not, this is remarkably tasteful red-carpet attire for U2. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Pharrell (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Pharrell continues to fight for attention with his wife rather than take the chivalric high road offered by proper men’s formal wear.  (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Joseph Luft (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Judy Garland’s son Joseph Luft in full prom mode. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Jim Carrey (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Jim Carrey has never been known for tasteful restraint. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Special Mention

ellen_degeneres

Host Ellen DeGeneres wore three tuxedo suits designed by Saint Laurent as a nod to their revolutionary Le Smoking from 1966.

Filmmaker Shuhei Morita in traditional Japanese formal attire.  (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Filmmaker Shuhei Morita in traditional Japanese formal attire. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)

Posted in: Red Carpet