The Met Ball is fast approaching on its aspirational, inscrutably-themed wings, and hoardes of male celebrities are quaking in terror and uncertainty.
Yes, you read that right — THE MEN DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO WEAR. According to WWD, Anna Wintour "sent a shiver down the spine" of every highly-paid fancyman in America when she decreed that the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be "white tie and decorations," instead of the usual men's dress code, which is "whatever tuxedo you have lying around." If, like me, you are a rube who only half-watched Downton Abbey because you were preoccupied with looking at photos of Scott Disick's cat on Instagram, then you may wonder if the shiver is warranted. "Literally just put on a white neck-thing and a festive broach or something," you might have mumbled to a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio upon hearing this news.
But, no, that's incorrect: the first rule of White Tie is that you have do to abide by a very bizarre and strict dress code, and if you do anything wrong then you might as well have arrived in a patterned Snuggie. To adhere to a white tie dress code, one must wear the following:
[A] black tailcoat, matching trousers with a single stripe of satin or braid in the U.S.; two stripes in Europe or the U.K.; a white piqué wing-collared shirt with stiff front; a white vest; white-colored (e.g., mother-of-pearl) studs and cuff links; a white bow tie; white or gray gloves; black patent shoes, and black dress socks. A top hat is optional.
In the words of Blacktieguide.com, "When executed sloppily, it is no more than a magician's costume. When carried out skillfully, its adroit balance of militaristic authority and refined elegance elevates the most ordinary of men to royals and Rockefellers." (Ummm, ok, that is a prejudiced and ignorant statement about magicians. I guess no one at Blacktieguide.com has heard of MERLIN, the most elegantly refined man in history.)
Anyway, if you do it wrong you are an obvious laughingstock. Take this hilarious account from John Kent of Savile Row tailor Kent Haste & Lachter:
"Among some of the funnier things I've seen is white tie at a garden party — when dress code calls for a morning suit — white tie worn with a cummerbund, or with the waistcoat showing below the front of the tailcoat."
A CUMMERBUND WITH A TAILCOAT! IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT! HA-HA!
So, the pressure is on, male celebrities. Simon Doonan points out that the new dress code will "inject the occasion with a whole new sartorial focus and take the spotlight off the women for a change." And being in that spotlight will be about as difficult as surviving the French Revolution, according to my estimations: one fashion journalist describes being clad in white tie as "like wearing a guillotine, or having a knife cutting into your throat." Accordingly, the assorted fancymen aren't messing around — WWD reports that Lanvin is making a custom suit for New York Knick Amar'e Stoudemire, while Ralph Lauren is doing the same for Hamish Bowles and Andre Leon Talley. Because Leon Talley is a big proponent of the caftan, maybe he will intentionally court the magician costume look for fashion reasons.
In my dream world, Kim Kardashian shows up in a morning suit with her cummerbund out as a statement.
Image via Getty.