White Tie Affair: We Explain How Men Have to Dress For This Year's Met Gala

Formalwear gets an update from Anna Wintour.

On Monday, May 5, the highest-ranking men and women of the fashion community will ascend the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the annual Met Gala. But this year, the rules for guys attending the star-studded event are a little different. Gentlemen have been asked to wear white tie—the full, completely formal evening dress—with decorations.

In an age when people find it acceptable to shun social niceties and Tinder all the way through dinner, appreciation for anything as formal as a white tie event is more than likely waning. But that's probably why the gala's chair, Anna Wintour, made the changes. After all, this event is widely called fashion's answer to the Oscars, and photos from the celebration (which honors this year's Costume Institute exhibit of work by couturier Charles James) will be liked, shared, and reblogged all over the world. Who knows how many teenage boys will be inspired to upgrade their prom shoes to patent leather court pumps by the men at next week's ball?

What's particularly interesting is that the new rules will make little difference to women and will have more of an impact on the way men will be required to dress. In fact, so long as the ladies on the red carpet are wearing full-length gowns and white evening gloves, they'll pass muster. But men, who this time last year could have probably gotten away with creative black tie, essentially have to look like Fred Astaire (above)—not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just a little limiting. The full white-tie kit includes:

  • A tailcoat (with long skirt in back)
  • A white wing-collar shirt
  • A white bow tie
  • A white waistcoat (AKA vest)
  • Trousers with satin running down the side seam
  • Silk socks
  • Patent leather shoes

As for the decorations, we're pretty sure a simple carnation boutonniere won't do. Expect top hats, satin sashes, and those cross-shaped medals one might have received for being a European nobleman in the 17th century.

Of course, the white-tie rules are only one of the things that will help this year's Met Gala feel a little more expensive; the price of an individual ticket has gone up to $25,000 from last year's $15,000, and none other than first lady Michelle Obama will cut the ribbon on the exhibit's opening morning. Her attendance at the ball itself hasn't been confirmed, but it would be earth-shatteringly cool to see here there in white tie, too.

—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.

Also on
How to Buy a Tuxedo: 13 Formalwear Tips from a Bespoke Tailor
Tuxedos for Two: How the Wedding-Apparel Industry Is Keeping Up With Marriage Equality
How to Do Creative Black Tie Right (and Who Does It Horribly Wrong)

Image courtesy of Getty.
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