The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth. Most who love fashion know the difference between something that represents an of-the-moment trend and something that will have longevity, and hence is an investment in one’s wardrobe. The thing about a classic is this: It is a chameleon that changes with the looks and styles of each new season. While vintage pieces show us the look of a past season—and are valued for that very element—classic can take on a variation of its original self and still be considered of timeless quality.
The evening dress for men now popularly known as a tuxedo or black tie is said to have taken its name from the resort community developed as a hunting club, called Tuxedo Park Club in Tuxedo Park, New York. Several stories have circulated regarding how this formal style of jacket was first worn in the United States by one of the members for an annual Autumn Ball in the 1920s and was adopted as the formal attire by the rest of its members thereafter. In Britain, the tuxedo is often referring to the white version of this jacket, while in the U.S. we call that a “dinner jacket.” In other parts of Europe, including France, the tuxedo jacket is called a “smoking.” If you are looking for a tuxedo jacket—and I am sure you will be after finishing this column—you may note that depending on the origin of the jacket, it may be referred to as a “smoking” as well.
Helmut Lang’s Long Panel Jacket is my perfect version of a tuxedo or smoking jacket. The calf hair lined shawl collar makes it modern with a mixed media look and classic tailoring. It is my pick for this week’s Vogue a Trois.
I love tuxedo stripe on a pant, and AG Remi Black Stud Tuxedo Skinny Ankle Jeans do this jacket justice. It’s a little bit rock and roll and a lot of fun. The understated Zara fur pointed moccasin mirrors the calf hair lapel of the jacket. It all works very well with the 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target blouse in a gorgeous floral pattern. The mixing of high and low is a great way to keep an investment piece current. I love a big fabulous cuff, and the Herve Van der Straeten Ruban hammered gold-plated cuff fits the bill. Its a statement piece that brings out the pattern in the blouse. Wear it over your tuxedo jacket sleeve. Yes, I said over it.
Party season is around the corner and I for one love a ball gown skirt. It is fun to see another classic silhouette come back in a modern way. Throw everyone off by pairing a little masculinity (your tuxedo jacket) with a feminine piece, like the beautiful green Tibi Simona Jacquard Full Skirt. A simple but elegant camisole is perfect for under your jacket—this Joie Alicia Sleeveless Racerback Silk Tank is even beautiful on its own if you want to remove your jacket. Wearing an ankle strap heel like this swanky black suede ankle cuff heel by Steven Mauryce keeps the feminine vibe going. And don’t forget the handbag—Mark and Graham has a sweet little Opera Wallet in gold—plus a bunch of sassy party colors, so choose your favorite.
Whistles is a British brand I really like for their contemporary take on traditional (there is that word again) pieces. This Whistles silk and wool snake print skirt would be gorgeous with this understated Mango Striped Texture Flowy Blouse beneath the tuxedo jacket. Wear a pair of black Woolford tights and the rag & bone Newbury black pony hair boots to pull your outfit together. In New York, Henri Bendel is one of my favorite stops for jewelry and accessories. The whole store feels like there is a fabulous party going on. The Waldorf Drop Earrings in Hematite are a great little find.
The tuxedo jacket may have originated from the men’s side of the closet, but it takes on a feminine chic feel when the ladies get a hold of it. (See Kate Moss.) Like the oxford shoe and trouser pant, blurred lines of masculine and feminine often make for the most interesting kinds of dressing, evolving each season with a fresh perspective.