From tuxedos to quilt cloaks: The evolution of men’s fashion at the Met Gala

From tuxedos to quilt cloaks: The evolution of men’s fashion at the Met Gala

I’ve never been a huge fan of male celebrity fashion. I’m no fashion expert, but while I’ve seen female celebrities wear a huge variety of styles with tons of creative exploration, the men have always seemed to settle for a black and white tuxedo. 

Overall, men’s fashion trends at events such as the Met Gala have been woefully simple and dull. In recent years, however, there’s been a drastic change in the areas male celebrities are willing to explore with their fashion; from colorful harnesses to more stereotypically feminine clothing. 

For better or worse, it’s a much-needed step toward introducing a wider range of options for men’s formal fashion. One of the best events to see this evolution of fashion trends is at the annual Met Gala, where celebrities from all areas put on their best fashion for the evening. Let’s take a look at how men’s style has shifted over the years. 

Going back 11 years, the 2010 Met Gala showcased awfully mundane men’s fashion. While the women attending wore colorful and vibrant dresses, every male celebrity seemed to be wearing a suit with varying combinations of ties as the differentiating factor. Chris Pine was one of the more daring members, showing up in a navy blue suit rather than a black one. The styles were refined and elegant but lacked any risk or excitement. It felt like everyone was playing it safe, relying on tradition. But for a roster of some of the most creatively talented individuals, what is it saying if the biggest sign of creative expression was changing a blazer from black to blue?

[Here’s why the VMAs don’t work in 2021]

The Met Galas from 2011 through 2015 followed a similar trend of tuxedo after tuxedo, although some celebrities decided to splash a little more color onto the carbon-copied trend. 

In 2012 Cameron Silver brought a colorful full-body pattern tuxedo to the mix. The world saw Tom Brady in a bright blue blazer — one of the flashier outfits of the night — in 2013. Still, for the most part, stars stuck to their tried and tested black and white tuxedo combo. 

In 2016, Kanye West broke the mold when he wore a bedazzled jacket and ripped blue jeans (he also wore blue eye contacts, but we’ll overlook that). While it wasn’t exactly the height of fashion, especially for a high-class event like the Met Gala, it was an appreciated departure from the norm. 

However, 2019’s Met Gala marked the biggest departure from the classic tuxedo as the stars ventured into spaces that previously might have been deemed too feminine. Harry Styles wore a full jumpsuit with a sheer top and sleeves, while Odell Beckham Jr. combined old and new, wearing a skirt with a sleeveless tuxedo. Male stars also dove into some wonderfully weird and colorful territory; Billy Porter wore a shiny gold outfit set with a crown and wings, Ryan Murphy wore a beaded peach-colored cape and collar covered in scales and glitter and Jared Leto wore a jeweled red gown while carrying a wax figure of his own head. In many ways, it marked the long-overdue departure from more stereotypical men’s fashion into areas that were more exciting and innovative.

Not every piece was appealing; some were too garish and awkward, often feeling like an attention grab rather than careful art. But the stars were finally taking more risks and having more fun with their outfits. 

Both Beckham and Styles faced a swarm of comments online regarding their unique outfit choices. Beckham received many comments questioning his sexuality, whereas Styles’ sheer dress angered many for being too feminine. Still, many supported the two, praising Styles for his unconventional look, and emphasizing that Beckham should be able to wear whatever he wants without facing scrutiny.

Back in the present, the evolution from the standard tuxedo to a much more vibrant and eccentric landscape of fashion is evident. ASAP Rocky attended this year’s Met Gala in a colorful grandma’s quilt, while Jeremy Pope rocked a half-topless white tuxedo. 

[Mask fashion: Stay safe in style]

Lil Nas X pulled out all the stops for a three-part costume that was bright, eye-catching and expressive. Some stars, however,  still opted for more traditional outfits. Channing Tatum for example, went with a plain black and white tuxedo. Still, there is a huge increase in the amount of creative and colorful outfits in men’s fashion, such as Kid Cudi’s eyeshadow-sweater-skirt combo. 

Some styles may be too eccentric to realistically be worn in a casual social setting, but the effects do trickle down — as more stars wear clothing that’s nonconforming, it leaves the public more open-minded and opens doors for those looking to experiment with fashion. Inside and outside of the Met Gala, it seems there are more opportunities for free self-expression in men’s fashion and everything points to more opportunities in the future. 

As for the best Met Gala outfit this year? It has to go to Frank Ocean, who brought a lime green animatronic baby to the function. Nothing can top that one. 

From tuxedos to quilt cloaks: The evolution of men’s fashion at the Met Gala