Met Gala 2014 - White-Tie Who?

By Joe Kucharski - May 6, 2014

Last night’s Met Gala, the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute was every bit the star-studded event of the year it has come to be as of late. Centered on the opening of the Charles James exhibit, event hosts opted for the height of formality in setting the evening’s event as “white tie.” How celebrities on the red carpet interpreted this edict was disappointing, to say the least.

Met Gala 2014.


In our culture of fast celebrity, where making the biggest statement (translation shocking [translation inappropriate]) garners the most attention, it should come as no surprise that very few followed the dress code of the night. I do not have the time (nor the self-restraint) to delve into the women’s wear. There were some great moments- I’m looking at you Taylor Swift and Karolina Kurkova, but there were far too many bare-midriffs, side-boob, cocktail dresses, and pants for an elegant evening. Instead, let’s focus on the menswear of the evening.

Turn-of-the-century White-Tie, men's formalwear. 


To clarify, “white tie” is not a theme, nor a suggestion. It is a long-standing set of sartorial rules rooted in the 19th Century. For men, it consists of a tailcoat, matching pants with a satin or braided side stripe, white piqué bow tie, white (or sometimes black) piqué waistcoat/vest, wing-collared shirt (often with stiff front), and simple black shoes.

Why, then, did so many men miss the mark? It seems the answer is one of ignorance or immaturity. In our world of distressed jeans and stretch jersey everything, the idea of formality is little understood, let alone valued. In the minds of celebrities and stylists, a tuxedo (aka as semi-formal/black tie) is “dressy.” Considering every stylist is glued to their smartphone, and a quick Google search of “white-tie rules” brings back 42,000,000 results, I’m taking stupidity off the table.

The Bad:

Matt Bomer- vest is too long, and he's wearing a tuxedo jacket.

David Beckham looks like a cater-waiter in this far too casual jacket, and his pooling pants are a mess.

Kanye looks like he's wearing a costume for a middle-school play. The vest is too long, the jacket is too short, the pants are too tight and pooling.

You'd think at $25,000 a ticket, they could afford to have their pants hemmed. 


What this lack of formality seems to point to is a childish unwillingness to follow the rules. Like a toddler fighting a parent, tugging at their “fancy” clothes- there seems to be a blatant disregard for social conventions either because it requires stepping out of their comfort zone, or like angsty teens they want to make a statement.

Nice, but wrong:

Ryan Reynolds, Joshua Jackson, Hugh Dancy.

These men aren't in formalwear, but at least they've been to a tailor. If you're going to break the rules, at least have the decency to do it with panache. 

The irony is, for those in the know, the men who followed code looked the most at ease, comfortable enough with themselves to use the structure and subtlety of formalwear to show their gentility, grace, and respect for the evening’s festivities.

Gold stars for white tie:

Bradley Cooper, Tom Ford with Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne.

These men followed the rules, and instead of being distracted by their clothes- we're noticing the dapper men in them.