Red-Carpet Dude Dressing 2016: They're "Not Worrying About Who Wore It Better"

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Sorry, bros. Tight makes right as slim is Hollywood’s current suit-and-tux style and one top stylist advises guys to go a size smaller: "Sadly, you have to be a little bit uncomfortable for two hours."

Between the social media-fueled glut of red-carpet images and the liberation of the tuxedo from the staid black monkey suit, it's clear that dressing the Hollywood hunk is serious business. It can affect an actor's standing in the trophy race and reinforces his crowd-pleasing stature for future role consideration. Into this breach has come a subset of stylists whose clientele mainly is male. Turning out their guys in high style, these specialists strive for raves from fashion websites, positioning on best-dressed lists and thousands of Instagram likes. Yet dressing male stars takes a different knack than attending to the all-out glamour of their female counterparts, say the pros, who deconstruct the following key red-carpet principles.

Relax, the red carpet is not the gladiator ring

"The politics are different [with men] — it's not like a fight to the death to get your hands on one damn dress," says stylist Ilaria Urbinati, whose clients include Ty Burrell and Golden Globe nominee Rami Malek (she also styles Shailene Woodley and Nina Dobrev). "Also, men are less anxious about the whole process" — pos­sibly because the glare of Internet exposure still is more forgiving for the guys.

"There's a lot more to consider when you're dressing a woman — for men, it's more about looking effortless and put-together and consistent," adds stylist Michael Fisher, who works with Globes nominees Bryan Cranston and Michael Shannon as well as Jason Segel and Jonah Hill. His male clients are "not worry­ing about 'who wore it better' or if something looks tacky or too tight," he adds, as do women who can face merciless red-carpet critiques.

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Don't overload the garment racks

Unlike female clients, who often will try on an endless number of gowns, Annie Psaltiras, who dresses Globes nominee Rob Lowe as well as Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage and Jim Parsons, finds that men generally make their decision more quickly. "When I bring a rack of tuxedos, it's very obvious to us which ones are the top three," says Psaltiras. "Generally, my clients try on three to four, max; we usually don't even get to the fourth one. Often it's just one or two. They don't want to spend hours in a fitting." London-based Cheryl Konteh, who styles Globes nominee Idris Elba, adds: "We try to fix on a designer before we approach them — and rarely more than two."

But trends and designers matter

While men usually don't come to a fitting with a page swiped out of a magazine, Fisher says, they're aware of designers. "They might say, 'I saw this great jacket at this store,' and also tend to go with brands that suit their build," he says.

Trend-wise, slimmer cuts and colorful options are still going strong, says Jeanne Yang, whose clients include Globes nominee Christian Bale as well as George Clooney and Scott Eastwood. Suits of blue, claret and green add spice to the red carpet, and even an unmatched, contrasting jacket trend could take hold in Hollywood, particularly for the less formal Globes dinner. "I think you will see more of those because of men who are pushing fashion" like Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey, Yang says. "It's definitely becoming more acceptable." Shawl collars, traditionally seen on the dinner jacket, are on the rise in a newer, narrower version. It's a "rock 'n' roll look, a Saint Laurent vibe," says stylist Fisher, who pairs it with a narrow black tie and a clean-front formal shirt to keep things "slicker and edgier."

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Fit (not comfort) is king

The key ingredient to smart male style? "Tailoring!" says Yang. "Every guy who's a 40 thinks he's a 42, every guy who's a 38 thinks he's a 40. Men like to be comfortable — but when you wear something loose and baggy, especially pants, you look like you're 15 to 20 pounds bigger. So, sadly, you have to be a little bit uncomfortable for two hours. You're not supposed to be able to throw a football; that's a myth," she adds. "Nowadays, in the selfie/social media world, a suit should fit on the tighter side."

Instagram isn't just for the ladies

And speaking of social media, "men know there's going to be this photo­graph out there, and they want to look good," says Fisher. "All my guys take it seriously." Even if they all don't post themselves (though, says Urbinati, "I post almost every outfit of my clients"), stylists agree that men on the red carpet are increasingly scrutinized. "In social media it's often about how cute the guy is or how adorable the outfit," Yang adds, rather than the specifics of an ensemble, down to the handbag, jewelry and shoes in an actress' picture. Though even that distinction may be fading. "I remember at one awards show Jim Parsons wore some great Louboutin shoes," says Psaltiras. "He made a point to pose so you could see the red soles, and that got a lot of attention."

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Help for Your Old Executive Tux
Update formal wear with subtle color and your ace in the hole: one of Hollywood’s finest tailors

It’s true that loaners — as in, borrowed finery and gear — go to male nominated talent and presenters, husbands of high-profile actresses and, in some cases, a select group of A+-list nominated directors, producers and writers. For everyone else (senior TV execs, agents and the like), you can buy new formal wear — or tweak a classic look. Subtle dashes of color, as with Christian Louboutin’s classic patent slipons in unexpected dégradé black and red ($945 at Christian Louboutin, West Hollywood) or sterling silver cufflinks from venerable English brand Deakin & Francis with an inlay of crimson enamel and diamond pavé ($3,730 at will keep you stylish and relevant, as would an understated bow tie in navy silk knit (pictured above). Or it may be time for a tux overhaul, especially if the trousers are too long or too wide (they should gently taper and hang straight to the shoe) — both common mistakes, says stylist Michael Fisher. Experts offer up three of the town’s most revered tailors:
High Society Custom Tailor On many stylists’ secret lists, a Koreatown destination for the likes of Tom Cruise and Ryan Gosling. 3000 Wilshire Blvd, L.A.; (213) 382-0148
Y Mosk Design Hollywood clientele favor their skill at slimming standard tuxes. 310 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 278-1288
Antoine’s Tailoring For those who prefer a gentlemanly vibe and experienced eye. 415 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 275-8045

This story first appeared in the Jan. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.