From Legend To High Society, Tuxedoes Are Fashion’s Finest

By AYN ROBBINS
Contributing Writer

OSAGE BUTLERS: With their $1 million giveaway coming up April 13, Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino invited butlers, adorning the traditional tux uniform, to come out and offer their business cards and services to drawing participants.

ELIZ HOLLIS for GTR Newspapers


Fred Astaire, Michael Buble, Princess Diana. All three are known to the world as class acts, but what is the common thread?
The tuxedo.

To illustrate a local class act, Tulsans look to Ron Neal, who commutes from Dallas to perform as Tulsa Symphony’s Concert Master. Neal wears his “uniform” as proudly as an admiral in the Navy. As a matter of fact, the satin stripe on a tuxedo pant leg is said to have been included in the design to pay homage to the “officers and gentlemen” of the military.

It was the custom of the Algonquians to name an area for the chief whose tribe occupied it. In the 17th century, such an honor was bestowed upon Chief P’tauk-Seet, who ruled over land that became known as P’Tauk-Seet-tough, “the Home of the Bear.” There are other interesting theories that seem to trump the following and the most popular version of how the tuxedo came to pass.

The Lorriard family purchased land in the area and built walled estates on this cedar-wooded acreage forty miles northwest of New York City and called it Tuxedo Park. They also created the first American concept of “High Society” around the middle of the 1800s. Many of the mansions are still standing which is a testament to the artisans, who were imported for the most part from Italy. The Tuxedo Park Club for Men had a strict and formal dress code.

On a visit to England, wealthy New Yorker James Potter and his wife, Cora, were invited to the hunting estate of the Prince of Wales (Edward VII of the United Kingdom). Legend has it in the design world that the Prince was so enamored by Cora that the Americans were greatly indulged by the Prince simply to be in the presence of Mrs. Potter. When James asked for a heads up on what to wear, the Prince sent him to his personal designer and tailor, Henry Poole. When the Potters returned to their home in Tuxedo Park, the informal formal attire inspired by the Prince of Wales was adopted by the club members and became known as the tuxedo.

Love springs eternal this time of year. Weddings are planned. Prom dates are secured. For a look at current trends in formal wear, Ron Wales of Beshara’s (who is not, to this writer’s knowledge related to the aforementioned Prince of Wales) is THE man to talk to in Tulsa.

While the classic black tuxedo reigns supreme, there are variations in accessories. What is the quickest way to update a stuffy look?

“Color! Color! Color!” Wales says. “The standard black tux is being highlighted with bold, bright vests and ties in lime green, coral, pinks and teal. A strong look for the season is to combine a black shirt with white or ivory accent pieces for dramatic effect.”

Another popular update to the classic look is to match the color of the four-in-hand-knotted tie with the party dress of one’s partner. It is also becoming chic among men to wear tuxedos patterned after the American business suit as witnessed by many of the guests at this year’s Grammy and Oscar Awards ceremonies. In this instance, only the fabric sets it apart from a suit. The Country Music Association Awards Ceremony often finds nominees and winners in a tuxedo, cowboy hat, and fancy boots.

Although it is customary for men to wear tuxedos and women to wear dresses at formal events and activities, some of the greatest female icons in history have worn tuxedos including Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Catherine Deneuve. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Academy Awards wearing a tuxedo. Princess Diana left no doubt that the tuxedo is not for men only. Paris designer Yves Saint Laurent was arguably the first high fashion proponent of the style for women. Today, the trendy set flirts with the design by pairing the jacket with not only trousers but also satin shorts or a mini. Pastel versions of the formal wear are also an innovation.

The masculinity of this ageless apparel of elegance, refinement and sophistication is unmistakably unmasked by conjuring the image conveyed by these words: “The name is Bond. James Bond.”

For more on tuxedos and formal wear in general, a plethora of information may be found at www.besharas.com. Beshara’s has been in business for over 40 years and carries their inventory in stock.

“If you need a tuxedo tonight, we have your size in stock!” boasts their Web site. For the best selections, it is advised that you stop by Beshara’s in person to discuss your personal style and requirements with Ron or one of his staff of experts.

Beshara’s has two locations in Tulsa: 6837-A S. Memorial Drive and 3539 S. Harvard Ave. The Memorial number is (918) 254-0280 and the Harvard store’s number is (918) 743-6416.

Updated 04-08-2008

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