Marlene Dietrich wore one in "The Blue Angel," Judy Garland shortened hers to hot pants length for "Summer Stock" and Julie Andrews went from her to him in "Victor, Victoria" with the help of a tuxedo. Call it black tie, "smoking" or dress lounge, the tuxedo is influencing the way women dress -- and not just "after six."
Borrowing ideas from menswear is nothing new for designers on both sides of the Atlantic. Many have included one or two tuxedo looks with each collection, most notably Ralph Lauren and Yves Saint Laurent. But the current trend toward black-tie dressing for women has extended far beyond a few penguin clones seen only on the runway. In stores all over the country, from catalogue houses to specialty shops, the black-tie influence is everywhere: bathing suits, jewelry, bow ties, cummerbunds, perfume, evening slippers, tuxedo pants, skirts, dresses, blouses, socks and shorts.
The "new" tuxedo looks are softer and more feminine and adhere less strictly to the severe lines of a man's dinner jacket. Accessories take the tuxedo one step further toward femininity. Almost every department store has a wide range of clip-on bow ties, but to play down the sometimes harsh look of a wing collar, tie a simple bow out of satin or grosgrain ribbon at the neck. Replace the traditional cummerbund with a wide sash of color or glitter. Play with some of the more fanciful takeoffs of tuxedo accessories: rhinestone bow ties, beaded hair combs in the shape of a bow, patent leather pumps with color at the heel or a bright grosgrain ribbon bow. "Tuxedo makeup" has yet to hit the market, but heightened color on the cheeks, a good, pale lipstick and bright nails all help to lift the sometimes dark look of black tie.
Now when the invitation reads "black tie," women will know what to wear. CAPTION: Picture 1, Navy wool crepe smoking jacket with black satin lapels and navy pants ($320) and crepe blouse ($270) by Donna Karan and Louis dell'Olio for Anne Klein at Bloomingdale's; Yves Saint Laurent earrings ($38) and bracelet ($45) at Saks Fifth Avenue; necklaces at Garfinckel's ($18 and $22); Halston pumps ($135) at Bloomingdale's; antique beaded clutch ($130) at The Bag Boutique, Foxhall Square.; Picture 2, White tuxedo shirt by Fritzi ($23) with black wool Lavante tux pants ($98) and cummerbund ($11) at Woodward & Lothrop; bowler hat ($25) by Importina at Hecht's; bow tie ($60) at Garfinckel's; Seiko Lassale tank watch ($350) at Lynn Jewelers; red whip snake bag ($138) at The Bag Boutique.; Picture 3, Electric Sox ($4.50) at Woodward & Lothrop; black patent leather shoe with red wedge heel ($58) at I. Magnin.; Picture 4, Silver and black tuxedo top ($120) by A.J. Bari at Saks Fifth Avenue; Yves Saint Laurent earrings ($25) at Lord & Taylor.; Picture 5, Black wool crepe "smoking" dress ($200) from Chetta B by Peter Noviella at Lord & Taylor; earrings ($18) at Garfinckel's; Yves Saint Laurent necklace ($75) at Lord & Taylor; Seiko Lassale tank watch ($350) at Lynn Jewelers; Magninique hose ($5) at I. Magnin; patent leather slippers ($65) by Pacesetters at Hecht's. Photographed at the John F. Kennedy Centerfor the Performing Arts. Model: Millicent Reynolds. Photos by Bill Snead