Tuxedos Are Back: The Tux Trends Shaping This Decade’s Formalwear

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From James Bond to JFK, the tuxedo has always been the ultimate display of class. Coming to prominence in the late 19th century as a more casual, modern alternative to tailcoats and full morning dress, the suit’s popularity soared in the 20th century. However, though the tuxedo remained popular for decades after, this is no longer the case, especially for grooms. As tailor Ernie Ulysses has explained: “Renting or wearing a tux is no longer as captivating to men. Today’s groom is wearing a different kind of suit and putting more effort, individuality and personality into untraditional looks coming from their ties, jacket linings and winks in the collars.”

However, at the start of a new decade, the tuxedo has come to the fore once again, getting reinvented in intriguing ways. It’s British brands who are leading the way, whether that be Hackett’s luxury, fail-safe take on the classic tux or Reiss, whose tuxedo has a “versatile design, Italian-made fabrics and a shape that’ll serve you in this decade and the next.” Here are some tux milestones to have already emerged in the roaring twenties.

Joaquin Phoenix’s sustainable tux

Tuxedos have long been an award ceremony mainstay, especially for the Oscars, which see Hollywood’s finest sporting the suit in an attempt to “present [themselves] in the finest way to an ever-so-critical style audience.” And while there is always a spotlight on celebrity red carpet looks, 2020’s ceremony led to one particular actor’s tuxedo becoming the talk of the town: that of Joaquin Phoenix.

Famous people typically don’t wear the same outfit twice, especially not to high-profile events like the Oscars, but Phoenix bucked this trend in the name of environmentalism, making an eco-friendly style statement. Wearing the same sustainable Stella McCartney tuxedo throughout awards season in order to “reduce waste”, the move also highlighted the fashion industry’s massive carbon footprint. It’s responsible for around a tenth of the world’s carbon emissions and almost a fifth of its waste water, a situation further exacerbated by fast fashion and the industry’s constant drive for people to buy new items. By showing that this is unnecessary, Phoenix’s tuxedo choice sent a powerful message, which was in keeping with the Joker star’s long-held views on environmental issues.

The rise of female tuxedos

The rules of black tie dress are becoming more gender-fluid, while the tuxedo is a men’s formalwear classic, 2020 has seen more women seeking the kind of simple and comfortable clothing worn by men for generations. Although Paul Smith was an early proponent of the female tuxedo in the nineties, designers like William Vintage, Connolly, and Charlie Casely-Hayford have turned their attentions towards it in recent times. As well as full-on female tuxedos, these designers have started selling tux-inspired jumpsuits and dresses too.

Plenty of high-profile women have sported glamorous tuxedos in 2020, like Good Morning Britain‘s Charlotte Hawkins, who made headlines when she rocked up to Royal Ascot in an ivory and white tuxedo suit. The likes of Meghan Markle and Spanish royal Queen Letizia have also been papped wearing tuxedo-style blazer dresses.

Space X’s tuxedo-inspired spacesuits

The tuxedo has even inspired fashion for use beyond this planet, thanks to the spacesuits designed by aerospace giant SpaceX. In collaboration with costume designer Jose Fernandez, Elon Musk’s company revealed the suits in late May 2020, with observers quickly noticing its resemblance to a tuxedo, something that was confirmed to be deliberate. 

Recalling the design process, Fernandez said that Musk insisted that “Anyone looks better in a tux, no matter what size or shape they are”, which led to his desire for a suit that would immediately improve an astronaut’s appearance. The garments also feature oval, motocross-inspired helmets — a distinct departure from the typical bulky headgear — touch-sensitive gloves, and an “umbilical” cable port for communications and air supply.

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