Well Suited: Charles James in Black Tie

Even the designer celebrated at the Met Gala didn't have to wear white tie.

Circa 1950: Designer Charles James (2R), standing on steps with models who are wearing dresses from his collection. (Photo by Eliot Elisofon/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Image courtesy of Getty.

Welcome to Well Suited, a daily look at some of the most beautiful suits of the past and present. In our first edition, we examine the menswear musings of the late Charles James, the designer whose work just went on display in the Costume Institute's exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

It might seem a little ironic, but if you asked Charles James whether it was harder to dress men or women, he probably would have said men.

"The more beautiful fashions turned out in this country are undoubtedly for men," James told Interview in 1972. "Men have historically worn the maddest things. Maybe the maddest form of design is armor, and armor had to be made functional as well as beautiful; otherwise men were killed."

While the tuxedo he wore in the photo above (it was taken at some point in 1950, and all the women are wearing his designs) wouldn't have stopped a bullet, it looks like it was as well conceived and tailored as the gowns he created for women. You can see some of those dresses and learn more about his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 8 to August 10.

—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.

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