Black Tie at the Golden Globes 2019

Hello, hello! Time again for me to scrutinize within an inch of their life the black tie outfits I saw at the Golden Globes. As is the case with many red carpet events, it's a mixed bag of good, okay, and a few that defy description. A lot of the time, the reason is that designers are merely using celebrities to model their wares rather than celebrities choosing the best thing for them and their personality. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I tried to pick some of the best examples of all the trends I saw. I'll also note that none of these criticisms are knocking the people themselves, just what they wore. So, what did they do right or wrong?


Exemplary black tie outfits that prove its timelessness. There may be a problem or two, but generally these are showing others how it should be done.

Nicholas Hoult in a great Tom Ford ensemble. Note the proper amount of cuff showing. His cummerbund placement needs to be higher, but it's a relatively minor shortcoming.

Black tie shoes should never have broguing. Overall however, this double breasted Burberry ensemble by Michael B. Jordan is a good demonstration on how to rock more than one button. By sticking to the principles that have kept black tie relevant for over a century, Jordan is far better turned out than he has been before.

Two Button Letdowns

For some reason, superfluous buttons on single breasted dinner jackets just won't die. The one button dinner jacket, preferably with a low button stance, is the best way to go since it visually lengthens the torso, strengthens the chest, and imparts clean lines. Two or three buttons, especially with notch lapels, make one look as if they are wearing a black business suit. If one desires multiple buttons, the double breasted dinner jacket (like the one worn by Jordan above) is the best way to go.

Ken Jeong's purple bow tie and pocket flaps further lend a pedestrian appearance to something that should be extra special compared to a business suit.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture winner Rami Malek unfortunately commits the same mistake President Obama did a decade ago -- two button notch lapel with a white satin bow tie. The velcro strapped shoes make this prom date look even more adolescent and don't even seem to serve a purpose since there are laces underneath.

Necktie No-No

Time and again, celebrities choose to lower their getups to the level of business suits by wearing an ordinary necktie. This misses the entire point of black tie -- it is a black bow tie, not a black necktie.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy winner Christian Bale doesn't appear to have grown out of his monochromatic obsession any, which offers no contrast at all against the stark black. The necktie looks especially out of place next to a dinner jacket with classic details.

He was joined by Chris Messina, who didn't even bother with a dinner suit in the first place!

Idris Elba furthers the disjointed businesswear-as-formalwear look by wearing a strange mitred button-down collar shirt with barrel cuffs and incorrect five button waistcoat.

No-No Ties at All

Some insist on forgetting the neckwear entirely! Something which is fine with a casual suit or sports coat, but like the necktie is far too informal for the dress code.

Earlier that night, he didn't even wear a tie. Why? He's Idris Elba, that's why. I won't argue with him about it in person!

Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan in a rather opulent-looking ensemble. I kind of dig the paisley velvet dinner jacket, but wish he had worn a black bow tie and white puffed pocket square to bring it all together. He also seems unaware that jacket pockets are meant for items like the wallet or phone conspicuously showing through his trousers.

Wrong Time of Year

Once again, I must remind my readers that white dinner jackets are not for winter. They are for summer. Exceptions can be made in tropical climates, but considering it was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even the weather was no excuse.

I don't even think King T'Challa would wear what Chadwick Boseman is here!

Bradley Cooper's days of understated, classic black tie looks sadly appear to be no more. He's done better in the past and certainly knows how to.

Aside from having two buttons, this is a tasteful black tie rig. Unfortunately, it isn't the right time of year or temperature for it.

Wrong Colour Entirely

"No brown in town," as it was said once upon a time. It's not entirely true, especially today, but it certainly isn't appropriate for black tie events either.

Sam Rockwell attempts to match his wife by going sepia-toned, but this outfit would have been far better if it stuck to the traditional black and white colour scheme that works for a reason. The "rules" of prom dates matching should not apply to dressing like an adult.

Velvet dinner suits are great, but I would have liked this one much better in a red, blue, or green -- traditional smoking jacket colours. Also, lose the sunglasses Sterling K. Brown, this is a night event!

James Van Der Beek double dips with a brown velvet dinner jacket and grey trousers better suited for wearing with a navy blazer.

Back in Blue

Blue remains a popular alternative to many celebrities wearing black tie. Most often, it's not actually the midnight blue meant to replace black. While not traditional by any means, dark blue looks much better suited to a night event than the bright blues that have popped up over the years.

John Krasinski's light shade of navy is not at all traditional, but the details are traditional enough. Unfortunate then that his cummerbund is worn so distractingly low.

Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn himself, is displaying far more common sense for dressing than he has in the past.

Not Bad

Cool, but could certainly be better. Still pretty good by red carpet standards!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture winner Mahershala Ali has stepped up his game considerably since the last time we saw him in black tie. The fit is still a bit too tight, but I give him credit for pulling off a traditional, double breasted evening waistcoat and an interesting pattern.

Menswear-inspired dinner suits are excellent, however Judy Greer's is a little busy with eight buttons and a ticket pocket.

Oh my...

These outfits demonstrate none of the dignity that proper black tie attire provides. But to be fair, that's probably not what they were going for in the first place.

I appreciate attempts at blurring the gender line, but this getup makes Timothée Chalamet look like an alien-of-the-week henchman from Star Trek.

Spike Lee's choice of a royal purple dinner suit is not actually terrible, however it was all the more reason to keep everything else conventional and smart. The gold sneakers are too much and he should have at least worn a tie with such a shirt.

Liberace via Count Dracula? Billy Porter certainly gives no damns here, but I wish the cape were black velvet with maroon lining and that the rest of the getup were simply the most dandified version of black tie that's still traditional. Yes, I think capes are cool... when used well. Sue me!

Who do you think was best dressed? What would you have worn to the Golden Globes? Let me know in the comments below.

All photographs copyright 2019 Getty Images. Photographs are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, comment and critique, consistent with 17 USC §107.


  1. "I'll also note that none of these criticisms are knocking the people themselves, just what they wore."

    I can scarcely imagine how boring your personality must be to knock everything that isn't a black tuxedo, but that seems to go along with the boring way you dress. Your girlfriend or wife must hate herself for being with you whenever you go out somewhere. Nothing but TGI Friday's and the like, right?


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