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A tuxedo is a serene, assured and chic answer to party dressing that will have relevance for years to come



There’s nothing like the onset of party season to send you into blind panic of spending.

The threat of endless awkward social occasions and a host of dress codes you don’t understand will do that to even the most sanguine of shoppers. While you normally baulk at sequins and flinch when someone says the phrase kitten heel, the festive season ignites a sort of demob-happy mentality in all of us.

Certainly ’tis the season for style slip-ups as we lurch helplessly from Zara to Arket to the “new in” section of Net-a-Porter picking up marabou skirts and sequin-splayed jackets as we go. The tuxedo — serene, assured, chic — is the antidote to all of this. With the exception of the little black dress, it’s the only party piece that stands a chance of retaining its relevance for the next five winters to come.

Undoubtedly, the tuxedo (named so after Tuxedo Park in New York) or “smoking” (to use it chicer European alias), has serious staying power with a list of ambassadors that begins with Edward VII and includes everyone from the exalted Bianca Jagger to Kate Moss.

Blazer £740 and trousers £245 by Paul Smith Tuxedo. Shop it here

A designer that understands its appeal like few others is tailoring maestro Paul Smith whose tuxedo collection — now in its third season — is a homage to the iconic style and spans everything from classic suits to a sleeveless tailored dress that takes inspiration from the traditional suit shape.  The collection is a celebration of the women who have always inspired Smith — see Patti Smith and Grace Coddington for starters — and the way they borrowed ideas from men’s tailoring to create looks that were both empowering and entirely unforgettable.

The tuxedo’s appeal has not diluted over time. Cast your eyes across any best-dressed list and you’ll see that it’s the woman wearing it — effortless with a slightly rebellious edge — that emerges victorious.

Tuxedo playsuit, £395, Self Portrait. Shop it here

To find the suit of your dreams, check your wardrobe. The chances are you may already own one. Paul Smith should be your next port of call. Timeless classics in the designer’s current Tux Collection include a double-breasted two-piece in stark ivory (the vibrant fuchsia lining is a genius touch) as well as the aforementioned black dress which has the staying power potential to outlive most other things you own, including your teeth. Empowering labels such as Isabel Marant, Stella McCartney and Joseph are also tuxedo masters, as is brand of the moment Bottega Veneta. Actually, you can tell a lot about the quality of a designer by the cut of their classic tuxedo.  

Velvet blazer, £59.99, Mango. Shop it here

Arket is your place is you want to balance value for money with a tuxedo that suggests fashion proficiency. Among their current offering, tailoring plays a key role with playful takes on the classic tuxedo spanning cropped blazers and an autumnal colour palette.

Mango and Zara have also got a good grasp on this style. At Mango, there’s an emerald-green velvet jacket-and-trouser combo which looks great as a full look as well as separately, while Zara has morphed the style into an epic party dress hybrid complete with pin-sharp shoulders and double-breasted detailing — think Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love video. On the subject of hybrids, the festive look of millennial dreams — a neat-fitting tux playsuit complete with thigh-skimming lace underlay — is the charge of Self-Portrait, while New York label Tibi is also dab hands at this look.

Black tux dress, £69, Zara. Shop it here

The joy of the tuxedo dress is that it demands little in the way of styling. If the classic suit is your heart’s desire, you can also expect to keep the add-ons to a minimum: simple earrings, a

barely-there cami and a smear of red lipstick and you’re pretty much there. Shoe-wise, a pointy patent court is an easy win, but if you fancy a laid-back alternative a white trainer is thoroughly acceptable. Feeling calmer?



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