by Allison Daniels
The American tuxedo, or the European “smoking” (a term made famous by YSL with his iconic “le smoking”) has been in use since the late 1800s as an alternative to more traditional formal-wear.
The tuxedo was utilized early on by rule-bending stylesetters like Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Deitrich (pictured above), who highlighted their unique fashion senses through menswear, and by photographers such as Helmut Newton, who knew when to push the limits of voyeurism.
More recently, the fashion world has begun to toy with the idea of the tuxedo, mixing and matching its elements to create new, playful looks for both day and night. While a full tuxedo may be hard to pull off if you aren’t posing on a red carpet (and even if you are), pairing a bow tie with a pleated skirt, or a tuxedo jacket with jeans is a fresh way to dress up pieces you already own. Here are some of my favorite tuxedo-inspired looks:
When trying this trend yourself, it’s all about balance. To make sure the tuxedo theme is translated, keep your basic pieces in the black and white family. Shoes and accessories work for pops of color. A white blazer with black jeans looks chic – not formal but not too casual with a nude or jewel-toned camisole beneath. Try it with boots for a shopping trip or brunch; pair with stilettos for drinks or dinner.
Top: Victoria’s Secret Satin Lapel Blazer ($138, victoriassecret.com); J Brand Leggings in Coated Black ($215, revolveclothing.com). Middle: Wacoal Embrace Lace Camisole ($40, zappos.com); Poinsettia of No Return Bootie ($49.99, modcloth.com). Bottom: DV by Dolce Vita Boston ($97, zappos.com); Clutch Leather Bag ($39.90, shop.mango.com)
Another great tuxedo look is a full black mini-skirt with a white button-down. Add a bow tie (or a bow-tie pin) to take the trend to the next level. I recommend high-heeled booties or stilettos for this look. But a great alternative if you’re feeling cheeky is a flat brogue (I adore these in metallics and neon shades).
Top: Free People Pleated Leather Vegan Skirt ($148, revolveclothing.com); Women’s Tuxedo Casual Shirt ($140, reiss.com). Bottom: RAS Shoe Boots ($145, yoox.com); DV Dolce Vita Suede “Marcel” Oxford Loafers ($69, bloomingdales.com).
One of my favorite new takes on formal-wear is the evening short. Whether it’s a mid-length short in a luxe fabric or short shorts in a sequined finish, stars have embraced this look as a chic and playful alternative to the cocktail dress.
For this trend, just remember to balance the sexy gams you’re showing off with a more conservative top. Tuxedo jackets and tailored shirts work well here. And to balance the slight tomboyish vibe of your evening short, be sure to amp up the femininity with a sky-high heel. Above are some celebs rocking the trend with style, and below are a few pieces you can use to try the look yourself.
Top: See by Chloe Sequin Shorts ($138.25, theoutnet.com); Relaxed-Fit Pleated Shorts ($49.90, shop.mango.com). Bottom: Autumn Cashmere Black Cashmere Shawl Collar Tuxedo Jacket ($178, bluefly.com); Colin Stuart, The Supermodel Pump ($98, victoriassecret.com)