Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Tux Redux

BOOM! My latest article for Varsity:

As we enter the throes of exam term, and find ourselves consumed by the necessity to prioritise revision over such tempting distractions as shopping for dresses, May Week might seem like a somewhat distant event. And yet, with only a few weeks until the balls commence, the need to settle sartorial choices is becoming an increasingly imminent concern. With so much to do before the big night and so little time on our hands in which to prepare, why can’t there be a fail-safe, quick-fix option amid this commotion? Fortunately there’s a black-and-white solution: ladies, let’s initiate a tux redux.

If, like me, you’ve spent this term in a library-bound stupor, relying on custard creams for sustenance and rarely exposing yourself to sunlight, your body might not be looking as honed as a traditional dress demands. Mercifully, the forgiving cut, ample pasty limb coverage and satisfactory tummy concealment of the tux provides a flattering answer to any revision-induced bodily neglect.

Moreover, the tux is endlessly practical. Ever since Yves Saint Laurent inaugurated ‘Le Smoking’ in the sixties, it’s been a timeless classic; a sensible yet sexy investment piece guaranteed to turn heads. Opting for a tux virtually neutralises every girl’s worst nightmare: the possibility of someone else turning up in the same dress. Instead, on an evening when Cambridge’s finest will doubtlessly seek to outdo each other in the sartorial stakes, the tux outsmarts the very notion of ‘dressing to impress’, oozing sophistication by virtue of its sheer simplicity.

Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic original ‘Le Smoking’, Bianca Jagger’s wedding suit, Helmut Newton’s version of striking androgyny for French Vogue in 1975

For those who are planning on some serious Suicide Sunday antics, the tux is definitely the way forward. Quickly throw it on, add a coat of red lipstick and a stroke of black eyeliner, and you can rush from garden party to ball in no time, leaving the other girls hobbling behind in their painfully impractical stilettos.

What’s more, freed from the constraints of a close-fitting dress, the prospect of an unsightly food baby will become a distant worry, whilst dance-induced sweats and early-morning chilliness can be averted by slipping your jacket on and off. Devoid of awkward skimpiness, the tux is also the perfect solution for letting go on the dancefloor, jumping into punts, and even negotiating the bouncy castle.

Even if such antics aren’t your thing, the tux nevertheless epitomises grown-up glamour. It suggests individuality, confidence and independence: another attraction if commitment to your studies this term has left you without a date for the evening. And yet, the suit is supremely sexy – we need only look to its recent red-carpet treatment at the hands of Kate Moss, Dita von Teese and Rihanna and commend their savvy decisions to eschew exhibitionist ensembles in favour of an elegant tailored look.

Kate Moss and Dita von Teese: effortless tailored chic and sexy sartorial glamour

Considering its practicality, functionality and timeless appeal, I’m convinced that suiting up is a definite tuxe-do for May Week. Without the worry of choosing the dress for the occasion, Google Nanny’s enforced regulation of my procrastinating perusal of ASOS dresses can get stuffed. Successfully suited and booted, I can forget about May Week Chic and get on with some productive revision instead – although I’m still yet to find the perfect bow tie…

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