21 Ways to Freak Your Formalwear

Fashion
Featuring Homer jewelry, Thom Browne kilts, and a whole lot of velvet.

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Today’s hype-fueled fashion landscape yields a mountain of fresh menswear every month. Which is why every issue of GQ now includes The Drops, a guide to the best of the best new gear as it hits stores. Dandies and party animals have long bended the rules of black tie—a smoking jacket here, a pair of beat-up tennis shoes there. It’s high time for a re-think of the last dress code, and these days there are more ways to remix formalwear than ever. 


Photograph by Martin Brown. Styled by Jon Tietz.Hair by Ledora Francis using Oribe. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Saint Luke Artists using Chanel. Set by Bjelland-Closmore.
One-Of-One Tuxedo

Among the many hero pieces unveiled in Demna Gvasalia’s historic and ultra-zeitgeisty Balenciaga Couture debut is an elegantly contoured tuxedo that references one owned by Cristóbal himself (price upon request).

For Gucci’s 100th anniversary collection, Alessandro Michele reprised a red velvet tuxedo from the archive unveiled by then-creative director Tom Ford in fall 1996. Look familiar? It’s the one that, as Michele said, “made Gwyneth Paltrow famous” (jacket, $3,600, and pants, $1,300).

Nighttime Shades

Bow tie, pocket square, cummerbund… Add a pair of ombré-tinted, gold-frame Cartier shades to your list of mandatory black-tie accessories ($1,195).

Custom-neckwear label Lindman New York can make just about any collar accessory you can dream of. Need a midnight blue tie? Why not add sequins ($150)?

With an opaline guilloche dial and a quilted leather strap, the steel Boy Friend Watch is the latest Chanel accessory guaranteed to cross over into the menswear style universe ($4,600).

The evening scarf hasn’t been regularly seen in decades, but London tailor Ozwald Boateng’s silk scarves bring the accessory back to life ($408).

Faux-Fur Overcoat

Founded by Huy Luong, Dylan Cao, and Jin Kay, rising NYC label Commission’s menswear debut is an homage to Vietnamese and Korean style in the ’70s, with pieces like this faux-fur duster that update the era’s sartorial codes for the social media age ($1,995).

Ever since Odell Beckham Jr. wore one to the Met Gala, the Thom Browne kilt has become the black-tie staple for adventurous dressers the world over ($2,240).

A Ring Worth Kissing

Some say the male engagement ring is a fancy watch, but if you ask us, it’s a Tiffany & Co. ring set with a sublime Sri Lankan sapphire (price upon request).

Part pajama shirt, part pleated tuxedo shirt, Fendi’s sleek, piped button-down whispers of late nights that turn into early mornings ($1,790).

Cummerbund Cross-Body

Stash all the wedding party essentials in Dunhill’s nifty damask-print silk cummerbund bag, the only clout pack you can wear with a tuxedo ($595).

Disco Derbys

This season, the sober Prada derby has been doused in rhinestones and sent out on the dance floor ($1,400).

18K Loafers

Black-tie normally calls for quiet black lace-ups, but sometimes you gotta let the gold Giuseppe Zanotti loafers do the talking ($995).

At a time when fashion is all about rule-breaking, one commandment remains: When you need a lamé floral blazer, you go to Tom Ford, the king of debonair evening wear ($7,180).

Riding Cape

Formalwear is all about dramatic silhouettes, romance, and mystery. No designer plays to that fantasy better than Celine Homme’s Hedi Slimane, whose formal capes have become something of a personal signature ($2,550).

Dress codes are made to be smartly subverted, and no button-down is a more tempting alternative to the tux shirt than Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello’s marigold silk blouse ($1,990).

By playing with Schiaparelli’s irreverent, sculptural house codes, artistic director Daniel Roseberry is responsible for some of the most viral outfits of the year (e.g., Lady Gaga at the Inauguration and Beyoncé at the Grammys). This eye-popping gilded necklace invites moment-making of your own (price upon request).

Enamel Earrings

In August, Frank Ocean unveiled his long-awaited fashion project, Homer. The first collection featured silk scarves, diamond jewelry, and these hand-painted enamel earrings ($1,795).

Party Blazer

In the glorious space between James Bond and Austin Powers lies Etro’s suave and irreverent leopard-print velvet jacket ($2,160).

Gem-Set Suit

Balenciaga alum Martine Rose’s suits are tailored with an intentional sloppiness—this rhinestone-encrusted set features a wide-shouldered jacket over relaxed fit trousers (price upon request).

In the ’70s, Hermès produced chain-link cuff links that hook around the outside of your shirt cuff, a move so advanced it’s rarely seen today. Luckily, vintage versions are still in circulation ($1,295, at Foundwell).

Chanel, Fendi, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Dunhill, Cartier, Prada, Thom Browne, Lindman NY, Giuseppe Zanotti, Hermès, Celine Homme by Hedi Slimane, Etro, and Martine Rose: Photographs, Martin Brown; Prop stylist, Sharon Ryan for Halley Resources. Ozwald Boateng, Commission, Tom Ford, Homer, Schiaparelli, and Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello: courtesy of brands.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2021 issue with the title “21 Ways to Freak Your Formalwear.”

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