Lessons From the Oscars: How to Skip the Tux and Still Look Stylish

Sunday night’s 88th annual Academy Awards, hosted in Hollywood, California, brought out plenty of significant guys in suits who made a strong fashion statement. The sartorial impact of a night such as the Oscars cannot be ignored. Yes, the girls get the most attention with their flurry of couture confections. But, aside from that glorious blur of gowns, it’s just as much of a sartorial playground for the guys, too. From the nominees to the presenters and the attendees, everyone’s style gets elevated by more than a few attention-grabbing notches.

However, on a red-carpet evening such as this, we cannot help but relish in the boldfaced male beauties who colored outside the lines of the more standard formal wear exits. It’s not as if we have anything against the classic, black tuxedo. In fact, it ranks highly on our list of the most handsome things a man can possibly wear — after all, there’s nothing quite so dapper as Eddie Redmayne suiting up in Alexander McQueen at the Academy Awards. But, let’s face it — all those tuxes can be a bit of a snooze fest after awhile.

So, cheers to the boundaries-pushing boys who marched to the beat of their own fashion drum and didn’t wear the menswear uniform of the night. Here’s a look at a few good men who brought their black-tie A-game to a new level and gave us some lessons in leaving that typical black tux far behind.

1. Chris Rock

Chris Rock

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As the fearless host of the Oscars 2016, Chris Rock was dressed to impress and was certainly not shy to flaunt his impeccable white Burberry tuxedo jacket and black trousers. The look made a statement, not so much because it was unconventional or unexpected (it really wasn’t), but more for the intentional irony created as the comedian confronted the #OscarsSoWhite controversy — in a white dinner jacket.

The Lesson: Wear your feelings — even the sarcastic ones — on your sleeve.

2. Jared Leto

Jared Leto at Academy Awards


Jared Leto is no stranger to walking on the wilder side of the wardrobe spectrum, and anyone hoping for an unorthodox look from him on Oscars night would not have been disappointed in his Gucci suiting that was edged in bright magenta-red piping. You also would be forgiven if you mistook his ensemble for a pair of pajamas, especially with his embroidered, slipper-style footwear. The icing on this Jared Leto cake? His carnation that replaced a bow tie — yet somehow he made it look as if it’s totally natural to strut out of the bedroom and onto the red carpet with PJs on your back and petals at your neck.

The Lesson: More flower power to you.

3. Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart at Academy Awards

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In one fail swoop, Kevin Hart singlehandedly showed us that all you need is a good bedazzler by your side. The comedian’s glittering, embellished Dolce & Gabbana number may have been rendered in an all-black color palette but it was anything but boring. After all, shouldn’t everyone’s suit pockets be outlined in black mega rhinestones? The sparkle factor on his dinner jacket alone is basically the equivalent of every pageant girl’s sequin dreams.

The lesson: Shine on.

4. Common


Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As if to solely prove his name all wrong, Common wore a very non-commonplace white ensemble, clearly channeling Chris Rock’s mood. Common’s monochromatic ensemble was broken up only by a black bow tie and a black pair of shoes.

The Lesson: A monochromatic look can have a powerful impact.

5. Pharrell Williams

Pharrell at Academy Awards

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

From the ankles up, Pharrell Williams played by the rules with his classic black Lanvin tuxedo when he walked the red carpet with wife, Helen Lasichanh. But the musician, who is known for his comedic, oversized Vivienne Westwood cowboy hats and tuxedo-jacket-and-shorts combos couldn’t push the boundaries a little bit on the biggest awards night of the year. He may not have been nominated for a golden man, but that’s okay. He already brought his platinum buzz cut to the party — and he did score the prize for best high-waters of the night with his haphazardly rolled-up trousers and naked ankles. Socks with his black penny loafers would have ruined the cool-kid effect.

The Lesson: If you’ve got good legs, then flaunt them … on second thought, maybe just leave that to Pharrell.

6. Jacob Tremblay

Jacob Tremblay

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

At the ripe age of nine, young up-and-comer Jacob Tremblay gave everyone a lesson in good dressing. His mini tuxedo couldn’t have been more adorably handsome, but he’s clearly already wise beyond his years when it comes to personalizing his look. Subtle yet so smart, he wore a pair of Darth Vader socks with his suit and immediately demonstrated that he has some serious style skills — and a sense of humor, too.

The Lesson: May the fashion force be with you.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @rachellw and Instagram @rachellwatkins

More from Gear and Style Cheat Sheet: