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Making Indian men look good in tuxedos

As Hollywood stars are branded ‘bold’, ‘vulgar’, ‘waiting staff’ and ‘quirky’ by the style police, while wearing the same black suit-trouser-shirt combination on the red carpet, one wonders whether Indian men would ever consider going through this ordeal.

brunch Updated: Mar 11, 2012 11:59 IST
Yashica Dutt
Yashica Dutt
Hindustan Times
tuxedo,Manoj Mehraa,The Black Tie Guide

How not to look like a waiter
If decades of rom-com watching and cable TV have taught us anything, then it’s this: that wearing a tuxedo is a pretty big deal. Why else would the loveable, not-so-loaded male lead run around trying to rent (it’s supposed to be expensive, duh!) that perfect tux, which would make his lady love and soon-to-be-someone-else’s bride change her mind at the altar?

Brad Pitt

But haven’t you often wondered what the eff is the big deal? A tux is after all a suit with a waistcoat and a bow tie, so why should it be so special? As Hollywood stars are branded ‘bold’, ‘vulgar’, ‘waiting staff’ and ‘quirky’ by the style police, while wearing the same black suit-trouser-shirt combination on the red carpet, one wonders whether Indian men would ever consider going through this ordeal. And if they do, then where would they wear it?

Hot Off the Shelves
Apparently, everywhere. From a boozy night of cocktails to a pre-wedding ceremony, a lot of men are not only attending ‘black-tie’ events but are also keen to dress the part.

Manoj Mehraa, director of SBJ House of Luxury, says that a tuxedo has become a requisite buy for at least one of the marriage ceremonies for the Indian groom. “Men these days are only too happy to have more choice than sherwanis, achkans and suits. Not only does a tux look distinct, but when done well, it can be a really good look.”

“Just as women are experimenting with gowns, men are inching their way into the Western formal setting. They travel, study abroad, attend events and dinners and know that they need to fit in,” says a spokesperson from Paul Smith.

Contrary to what is assumed about the normal gent’s interest in fashion, tuxedos are flying off the shelves. Says Shalini Nayar, spokesperson of lifestyle brand Giovani: “Tuxedos are the most sought after among our entire selection for men and are almost always the first item to sell out.” And she just might be right as designer Narendra Kumar based his entire Winter-Festive 2011 Collection showcased at Lakme Fashion Week on tuxedos and Frank Sinatra’s golden hit Fly Me to the Moon. “That was one of my most popular collections till date. Everyone today wants to wear a tuxedo, but not everyone knows how to. So it’s still in a phase of discovery,” says Kumar.

Pull it off
And before you go exploring on your own, here’s our rule: Keep it classic. Go black and don’t go back, unless it’s a deep midnight blue or in rare cases, white. Rin Jajo, fashion director for Man’s World, offers more advice. “A tuxedo is a version of the suit meant for formal and black-tie events and is dictated by stringent specifications. In particular, the features of the lapels (only a peak lapel or shawl lapel) and trousers (usually with a band along the seam in a fabric matching the lapel on the jacket and never with an upturned cuff). And one can never go wrong with black, single breasted, in a blended wool fabric, with a peak lapel in silk or satin and trousers in a matching fabric.”

Anil Kapoor

In addition, Esquire magazine approved blog The Black Tie Guide, writes, “Jackets can be single or double-breasted. One button is traditional for single-breasted models but two buttons are becoming acceptable.” And it doesn’t skirt around the waistcoat issue. “Formal waistcoats are meant to cover as little of the shirt front as possible, so they should barely extend beyond the jacket’s lapels. Not only does this expose the maximum amount of decorated shirt bosom but it also preserves the physique-enhancing deep V created by the contrast of white shirt against the black jacket.”

And we agree. There is nothing more unsightly than an overdone satin waistcoat, nor is it acceptable to allow your shirt to peep through under the jacket. But not everything except your collar needs to be stiff. The lady from Paul Smith suggests that you break the monotony with a polka dotted bow-tie in monochrome or a patterned pocket square. And junk the cummerbund for a fitted waistcoat. Experiment with fabrics like velvet or jacquard or go crazy with plain trousers, instead of seamed ones. But whatever you do, don’t try too hard. It’s only too easy to end up like Anil Kapoor at the Baftas. Or as The Black Tie Guide called him: The Indian Pee-Wee Herman!

If you don’t know who Pee-Wee
Herman is, don’t fret, even we looked it up! Pee-wee Herman is a comic fictional character created and portrayed by American comedian Paul Reubens. He is best known for his two television series and film series during the 1980s. The childlike Pee-wee Herman character developed as a stage act that quickly led to an HBO special in 1981.

From HT Brunch, March 11

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First Published: Mar 10, 2012 12:56 IST