From left to right: Christoph Waltz, Robert Downey Jr., Tim Robbins, Sam Rockwell, Ke Huy Quan and Mahershala Ali take a selfie at the Oscars. GETTY

THE OSCARS RED CARPET sent out a strong message: following years of experimentalism, in which skirts, colourful tuxedos and personality shoes crept onto red carpets, all men want to wear is a black suit. Scrolling through images of the Oscars, it was difficult to find a famous guy who wasn’t wearing black. Sure, Matthew McConaughey wore a chocolate brown blazer, and The Rock went for a silky silver number, but when the Texan and former WWE star are the most experimental dressers at Hollywood’s premier awards ceremony, you know there’s something up.

And that something is the black suit. Robert Downey Jr. in Saint Laurent. Cillian Murphy in Versace. Colman Domingo in Louis Vuitton. Simu Liu in Fendi. Christopher Nolan in Dior. The list goes on. And on. And on. Even Ryan Gosling traded his campy Kenergy (on the red carpet—there was a Barbie pink moment for his rendition of ‘I’m Just Ken’ during the ceremony) for an all black Gucci suit. It was a feast of monochrome that marked the return of grown-up sophistication. No one looked silly, and it’s highly unlikely that one look will lodge itself in the cultural subconscious for years to come, a la Prince’s velvet purple jacket and white pants combo in 2009.

Instead, everyone just looked really… nice. 

Oscars best dressed men
Simu Liu, Colman Domingo, Ryan Gosling and Cillian Murphy, all wearing black at the Oscars. GETTY

There’s a reason the black suit is such a perennial favourite. In my opinion, it’s the one article of clothing capable of glowing up the roughest of gems, no matter your size, age, height or hang-ups. Its relevance has barely faltered since the beginning of the 1800s, when an English trendsetter named Beau Brummell decided that simple jackets and full-length trousers were cool, and it’s remained the fit of choice for powerful to ordinary men since then. And why would we seek to sabotage it? The suit allows us to wear the same thing over and over again; to blend in when we don’t feel like standing out and to look as sharp as possible with fairly minimal effort.  

Of course, the clothes we wear tend to reflect the economic times we’re in. When the global economy is good and our pockets are full, history shows we tend to dress more flamboyantly. When living becomes more costly, as it is right now, we’ll retreat to subtler, more practical looks, like we did in the great depression and again in 2008. And there’s nothing more subtle, nor more practical, than the classic black suit. 

Christopher Nolan in Dior (1)
Christopher Nolan in Dior at the 2024 Oscars.
Lenny Kravitz in Saint Laurent at the 2024 Oscars.

Recent men’s fashion months have also indicated the suit will be one of next season’s dominant looks, so it’s no surprise we’ve seen that mood filter through to the red carpet. One of the most articulate expressions of this new black suit occurred at the men’s winter 2024 Saint Laurent show, where creative director Anthony Vaccarello unveiled a predominantly black collection that began with an offering of sublime black suits and a couple of dark tuxedos. 

“The classic, double-breasted suit associated with 1980s power dressing informs the opening looks,” said the creative director in a statement. Vaccarello also noted that this collection “builds on elements introduced in prior seasons, while changing their tone and content.” He wasn’t the only designer whose collection featured classic tailoring that formed a continuation, rather than a reinvention, of what came before it—Silvia Venturini Fendi and Giorgio Armani also spoke about consistency and classicism over novelty, which really struck a chord. 

Saint Laurent winter 2024. Images courtesy of Saint Laurent.

At the Oscars, this desire for consistency and classicism felt real. At the end of the day, famous guys are just like us. They want to look good while feeling comfortable. They don’t want to draw attention to themselves; they want the focus to be on their achievements (even Bradley Cooper wore black). And while I’m all for high-risk fashion—which this year’s Oscars certainly lacked—I’m not about to pick a bone with the black suit. It’s the blueprint for a reason. 


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