If you have ever looked at the Met Gala best dressed lists and wondered why it is nearly all women, here's why. In fashion, there exists a double standard between men and women. Where women are expected to wear something new, fresh, and exciting to every event they attend, men are praised for wearing the most boring style known to man: the plain black suit. Take last month’s Oscars red carpet for instance. Lady Gaga wore a sheer, black, low-waist gown fresh off the Versace runway. Salma Hayek wore a fiery orange sequined Gucci gown. On the contrary, Austin Butler wore a plain black suit. And Michael B. Jordan wore a plain black suit. And guess what Andrew Garfield wore! A plain black suit.
The shocking reality is that these men were praised for their style choices just as much as Gaga and Hayek were.
You might be thinking “it’s just a red carpet!” but these standards are held up at any event. The Met Gala, one of fashion’s biggest nights, is no different. Despite the eccentric themes and urge for bold style choices, every year is the same. The women show up in elaborate, glamorous looks, and most of the men show up in the same black suit they wore to the Oscars and the Grammys and every red carpet they have ever stepped foot on.
Each of these images come from different Met Galas. Based on these looks alone, it is impossible to say what each year’s theme was. In reality, Aziz Ansari wore this plain, black Ermenegildo Zegna Couture suit to the 2017 Met Gala, where the theme was “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.” Jonah Hill wore a black Prada suit to the 2018 gala, where the theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” Alexander Skarsgård wore a black Burberry suit to the 2019 gala where the theme was “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” Each of these themes called for intricate, innovative styling, and yet men showed up looking like they were unaware that there was a theme at all.
In contrast to the menswear of the Met Gala, women go above and beyond for the event every single year. Of course, there are women who do not go for eccentric choices, but ladies have become champions of the night year after year. In 2017, Rihanna solidified her spot as a Met Gala icon in Comme des Garçons, the perfect ensemble for the night’s theme. The following year, Blake Lively was the queen of the gala in a Versace gown that fit perfectly in the Catholic imagination of the night. In 2019, Lady Gaga proved to be worthy of being made co-chair of the Camp-themed gala by entering in a pink Brandon Maxwell gown that was removed to reveal a second gown, then a third. The final stage of her transformation came when the third gown was removed and she exited the carpet in just her undergarments.
The saddest part of the eccentric shows put on by the women of the gala is that behind them is probably a man who put in not even a fraction of the effort.
You may be thinking that the issue with these events is that menswear just isn’t as fascinating as womenswear. After all, we can’t blame celebrities if the issue is with the fashion system as a whole. But, in reality, there are men that have proved it is possible to follow the theme and make a statement at the Met Gala.
For the 2018 Catholicism-themed gala, the late and great Chadwick Boseman wore a standout Versace ensemble that proved menswear does not have to be lackluster. Not only was he perfectly on theme, but the outfit received wide praise online. Even years later, this was revered as one of the best Met Gala looks of all time.
Despite the 2019 Gala’s Camp theme, Jared Leto was one of the few men of the night who actually followed the theme of eccentricity. His red, embellished Gucci ensemble, designed by Alessandro Michele, was accessorized with a replica of his own head. While not everyone would be daring enough to do such a thing, Leto’s outfit alone proved again how interesting men’s fashion can be.
The Met Gala, in theory, is the perfect chance for celebrities to experiment with fashion. With such specifically intricate themes and a history of praise for crazy outfits, there is almost no reason for men to show up in plain black suits each year. This year’s gala, which is taking place on May 1, is honoring Karl Lagerfeld, who had an affinity for black suits himself. After disappointing outfits from men every single time, this might be the first year that the plain black suit is actually on theme. So while the women of the Met prepare their best outfits, get ready to see a whole lot more of the plain black suit from men.