If there's one thing television has taught us – there better be at least one thing! – it's that men live in terror of being seen.
The Handmaid's Tale, Big Little Lies, Insecure: these praised shows are all about the horrors of men. The Night Of and The Crown and even the award-winning San Junipero episode of Black Mirror go further, and are about the fear of erasure and the destruction of men, in the very specific and in the abstract. Poor Prince Philip, forced into a cuckolded life of hunting, racing and general day-to-day colonialism.
Men exhibit both their pride and their fear through clothing. It's very easy to disappear into contemporary evening wear for men, which is where its invention was intended to lead us. Men express themselves in the conformity of the evolution of, or revolution over, tiny, tiny details.
The hour at which one might wear which jacket was always a matter of heated debate. The material for a black tie has been a matter of much concern. "The tie for a dinner jacket is a black bow of soft silk, not satin..." noted the recurring Some Hints for Men's Dress articles in The New York Times in May 1900. And worse: a "revival of the coloured sash was attempted last Summer, but the fashion was happily not followed. ..." Bullet dodged!
Men love, and love to be, a man in a uniform. This is about being under her eye. "What men wear among themselves, when they meet without the sunshine of love and beauty, is a matter of no consequence," The Times reported in 1898.
More colour for modern men
The sea of black clothing that we see at awards shows now makes Donald Glover's sophisticated peacockery this year all the more fabulous and perfect. Last night he wore a wild purple Gucci suit (aubergine, the Daily Mail wrote!). At the Golden Globes, he wore a "tobacco"-colored custom Gucci velvet evening suit and looked phenomenal.
It's been a while since a man has been this pleasantly extra. And it's perfect timing. Awards shows can be pretty meaningless, but Sunday night actually wasn't so vapid, as Glover took home an award for directing for Atlanta, making him the first black person to win an award for directing TV comedy.
At the same time, it's hard to distinguish between the very handsome suits worn by Milo Ventimiglia and Aziz Ansari and Liev Schreiber last night. (When Casey Affleck deviated from the script and wore a vest to the Golden Globes this year, it was a Thing.) Society is about the beauty of the disappearing man, and his wee vanities, the sharp severe haircut or the extra inch of hair. (Think always of the luxury of Jake Gyllenhaal's fingered tresses, his own quiet display.)
Why we love luxury
The other reason we wear the clothing of rich people is to show exactly how clean we are, too, how little dirt is under our nails, how we can pay to have people scrub us and buff us. The crisp lines of evening clothing show off all this luxury best.
But most of all, we are afraid of being called out. Only children and non-straight people are allowed to cut the line beyond the gender police interrogation that apparently all men fear the most – and yes, Billy Eichner in blue Valentino, cut so near to his shape that it becomes unnerving, counts. Clothes can happily unmake the man. Put a man in a splendid royal purple suit and there's nowhere to hide. The confidence is impeccable.
The New York Times
Check out the gallery above to see some of Donald Glover's best looks.