The new formal: men's evening dress is all change this Christmas

Forget the onesie or a Christmas jumper,  the big day calls for something altogether  more polished, says Alexander Fury

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Remember a few years ago when people were genuinely touting the onesie as acceptable Christmas Day dress? Look how far we have come. For 25 December 2014, forget slouchy snowman print sweatshirts: you’ll be pulling on tuxedos in velvets, brocades and lush jacquards. There may even be a bow-tie.

At least, that’s if designers get their way. The autumn/winter 2014 collections propose a polished, dandyish view of evening formen. Tom Ford cuts slender tuxedo jackets in jewel-coloured jacquards or lush ikat silk; Dolce and Gabbana patchwork theirs from velvet and satin, while Sarah Burton runs strips of gold through her Alexander McQueen evening suiting. Admittedly it sometimes looks part Hugh Heffner, part Bond villain. But after seasons of  dressing down and playing safe, there is something seductive about all that silk and satin. 


The new formal isn’t just flourishing on catwalks: in the last week of November, John Lewis’s menswear team reported a 60 per cent year-on-year increase in occasion-wear suit sales, and 49 per cent on formal accessories. And across the board, those accessories are steering festive formal looks into full-on flamboyance. There’s plenty of velvet – sometimes cut as whole suits, sometimes restricted to lush trims on coats or jackets. Teal and claret are key shades – indeed, contrary to Henry Ford’s classic maxim, you can have any colour as long as it isn’t black. Green and red, predictably, are favourites, although imperial purple and every hue of blue also make many an  appearance.

This isn’t about dressy-but-dull basics – neither are we talking about the jazzy waistcoats favoured by snooker champions. Fabrics should be lush; patterns subtle, not scary. And avoid lurex at all costs, unless you plan on a Spandau Ballet redux on karaoke.

Finally, if you feel like a stuffed turkey in a starched shirt, follow Tom Ford’s line and exchange it for a fine-gauge turtleneck.

It will last for life, not just for Christmas.