I recently received an email from a Hollywood exec friend of mine who'll be going to the Emmys. He wanted to know whether he needs to wear a tuxedo or if he could get away with a black suit. I asked him if he even owned a tuxedo, and he informed me that he does, but it is likely outdated. And he's not interested in investing in one just for the Emmys. I then asked him if he'd wear a tuxedo to the Globes or the Oscars, and he replied, "Probably." This exchange raised the question: Do the Emmys command less respect?
The simple answer is: no. The show is revered in its celebration of American television excellence. However, its fashion overall falls a tad short. Perhaps it's because the Emmys don't have the same international appeal. Or possibly, it's just too hot to don a tux.
Having gone to the Emmys for the past 10 years as a talent agent at WME, I see three categories that attendees fall into: The Red Carpet, The Hollywood Executives and what I like to call The Others.
Let's start with The Red Carpet. This is a look reserved for talent and nominees, wearing either the classic penguin or something more fashion-forward (in navy, say, or burgundy).
Then you have The Hollywood Executives. I've seen my fair share of mishaps, even among some top agents. The majority of errors stem from men wearing tuxedos they wore to their sons' bar mitzvahs in the late '90s. What many men don't understand is that a tuxedo is no different from a suit. Trends in fit and style constantly change. Every man should own (at least) one tuxedo that gets upgraded every two to three years. The style I recommend now is tailored to the body, and a peak lapel is my personal choice. The only time not to go with a notch lapel is when the peak doesn't sit well due to height or width of the chest. As for shoes, choose a patent lace-up or loafer, or a really elegant black dress shoe. Never a beat-up dress shoe you wear daily.
Skip the idea of renting a tuxedo. There is nothing worse than wearing a cheap-looking garment. And as for the black suit (which probably doesn't fit well, either), reconsider. You'll be judged either as someone who doesn't own a tuxedo or someone who doesn't care how he looks.
Lastly, there are The Others, who receive tickets through industry friends and family and usually don't dress the part. These men generally seem to think they're attending the prom, or they fall into the category of my exec friend planning to wear a black suit.
Our appearance is our visual business card. Invest in a sophisticated tux paired with a classic bow tie. Consider one in a lighter-weight fabric appropriate for L.A. weather. Most tuxedos are basic wool, but a mohair/wool blend is nice because the weight keeps the fabric snug to the body and is more breathable. With the correct fit, you will not only look great but also feel great. You won't regret the investment.
A designer tuxedo costs from $2,800 and up. Each brand has options. This season, I like Brunello Cucinelli (double-breasted, slim, peak, navy or gray) and Dolce & Gabbana (a more fashion-forward slim, peak, navy or black). All are breathable. So get on with it -- it's only a few days till the Emmys.
Andrew Weitz is the founder of The Weitz Effect, a consultancy advising executives on professional and personal style.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.