Met Gala, White Tie & Charles James

As the fashion obsessed person that I am, my love for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Met Gala should come as no shock. Every year, I scour social media and the internet (mostly Vogue) to find images of the event, gasping in utter amazement at the gowns and tuxedos that are worn by those who attend…dreaming of a day that I will get to attend. This year, with the Met’s new fashion exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion opening today in the Anna Wintour Costume Center (formerly the Costume Institute), and the dress code for the gala being white tie, I knew I was in for a rare treat.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the rules of a white tie dress code don’t fret because I wasn’t clear on them either. I knew what white tie was, I just didn’t know that that was the name of it. The rules for men are much stricter than women, who aside from having to wear full length dresses (ie ball gowns) have no other restrictions with the exception of white opera length gloves, an accessory that is not always required. Men, on the other hand, have to get decked out, from evening tailcoats, white bow ties and white low-cut waistcoats, down to the type of shoes (court pumps or Oxfords) and socks (silk). In other words, this is the most formal dress code and not something that you see every day. If you still can’t picture it, think about the Victorian Era, think about Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, think about the formal dances that took place in that time period. If that doesn’t help you, google pictures from this year’s Met Gala and you will immediately know what I’m talking about.

Beginning in 1971, the Met Gala continues to serve as both a fundraiser for the Costume Institute and the opening of the annual fashion exhibit. It is considered to be more prestigious than the Oscars and is mainly invitation only with individual tickets that are rare and boast a hefty price tag. This year, tickets were $25,000 per person. The new exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion examines Charles James, an American couturier best known for his ball gowns (hence the white tie dress code) and will be open at the Met through August 10th. I haven’t even gotten there yet, but already I am in love…and I feel this is worthy of purchasing an exhibition catalogue (I have not purchased one since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty back in 2011).