Smart Dressing

Five things we’ve learned from the Black Tie looks at the Oscars

Our Deputy Editor brings you his eveningwear do’s and don’ts from the glitziest night in the movie calendar

Armie Hammer, Oscars1. Armie Hammer knows how to dress

Well, it might have been Armie – or it might have been his stylist – it’s tricky to know these days. Either way, his was one of the sharpest looks on the red carpet last night, and it really shouldn’t have worked. Technically, he’s not wearing a dinner suit – the jacket’s notched lapels, flap hip pockets and two front buttons (plus the matching trousers) mark this out as a conventional lounge suit cut in velvet. By contrast, a dinner suit should be finished with silk-faced peaked or shawl lapels, pockets cut without flaps and with only one button to fasten. But, the suit’s sharp, fits nicely and with a simple black bow (which he’d clearly tied himself – you can always tell), Hammer carried it off. Bravo that man.

Garret Hedlund, Oscars2. Wearing colour’s not a sure-fire winner

I’m afraid that Garrett Hedlund disappointed last night. His undecided petrol blue-cum-green double-breasted dinner suit fell into the most common ‘coloured eveningwear’ hole – it looked naff. Colour’s difficult to pull off when it comes to eveningwear, which tradition dictates should be one of the most understated and sophisticated dress codes a man can wear. It’s often better to let your accessories do the talking, than go all-out with your dinner suit, and Hedlund’s ensemble proved it.

Oscars, men's style3. If in doubt, blend in

In contrast to Hedlund’s faux pas, Edgar Ramirez wore a look that was as classically correct as can be. His crisp black dinner suit with peaked lapels, jetted pockets and one button to fasten ticked all the requisite boxes. I was particularly pleased to see that he set off his look with a white silk pocket hanky, too. It’s an under-used accessory when it comes to black tie, and gave him just the finishing touch that look needed – nothing more, nothing less.

Daniel Kaluuya, Oscars4. Camel is cool

We all know that camel’s a cool colour in menswear, but last night it took on extra kudos thanks to its appearance on Daniel Kaluuya, who wore a louche velvet dinner jacket designed by Italian menswear powerhouse Brunello Cucinelli. Not only is the colour flattering, the jacket’s styling suited him, too. The formal shawl collar’s a natural choice for eveningwear, and the slim lines of the jacket are flattering. He also wore a shirt fastened with dress studs, a slim white cotton hanky folded perfectly, dress trousers with satin trim down the outside seams and patent dress shoes. Top marks for getting the details right. If you’re looking to make the right kind of statement, a dinner suit like this is the way to do it.

Timothee Chalamet, Oscars5. All-white definitely isn’t (even on Timothée Chalamet)

We love Timothée Chalamet – for our money, he’s one of the most talented actors of his generation and he’s ordinarily a very stylish individual. His trademark chambray or denim shirts, colourful crewnecks and slim chinos make for a great casual look. Even so, his all-white suit last night missed the mark. A white dinner jacket requires serious thought; it is acceptable worn with lightweight black dress trousers in summer, but all-white seldom fails to look misplaced. His suit jarred with his polished black boots, and didn’t work with the different shades of white in his shirt and bow tie. Plus, it washed him out. The lesson here? Approach pale colours with caution – particularly for eveningwear.

Sometimes, it pays to play with the rules in menswear, but Black Tie has long-standing rules for a reason. Think twice before breaking them, and if you do, make sure you know to come out looking like Armie Hammer.