Tuxedo Mask Doesn’t Know How to Wear a Tuxedo

Tuxedo Mask, the sometimes useless boyfriend of Sailor Moon, does not, strictly speaking, wear a tuxedo. As I learned recently while researching for a character’s costume in a story, Tuxedo Mask wears white tie, the most formal of formalwear in the West.

The rules of white tie, I have learned, are strict, so it is unsurprising that the most famous formally dressed man in the world of magical girls frequently breaks them. Oh, Tuxedo Mask, how many rules of men’s full dress have you violated in how many different versions?

The character of Tuxedo Mask was inspired by the idea of the gentleman thief, particularly the fictional French thief Arsène Lupin, created by Maurice Leblanc, who has enjoyed some popularity in Japanese pop culture, particularly as a result of the Lupin III franchise. In the ’90s Sailor Moon anime, Tuxedo Mask was changed into a superhero character with superpowers, but in the original manga, he was a criminal, and one (at first) without powers. Though his crimes are unspecified, it is implied that he was in the habit of robbing museums and jewelry stores in his hunt for the Legendary Silver Crystal, Sailor Moon’s MacGuffin. After she first sees him, Sailor Moon compares Tuxedo Mask to Lupin, making the connection explicit.

Although it turns out, when his identity is revealed, that he is not a literal gentleman, he nonetheless plays the role of one. Therefore, if he intends to rob people blind (or rescue bumbling superheroines) while overdressed, he needs to know how to overdress right. Thus, I offer the following as a service to any and all potential future Tuxedo Masks, so that they may not commit the faux pas of their predecessors.

To begin, let us see what white tie is. One of the most helpful (and entertaining) articles I have read on white tie comes from the pen of Sven Raphael Schneider, who excoriates several men of Hollywood for their violations of the rules in the Gentleman’s Gazette. To put his money where his mouth is, he presents a photograph of his own white tie ensemble:

Shamelessly stolen from Sven.
Shamelessly stolen from Sven.

This, then, is the goal. Slap a mask on that guy and make him more teenage-heartthrobby, and he’s Tuxedo Mask. Not shown are white gloves, a cape, and a cane, all of which are appropriate for white tie and also part of Tuxedo Mask’s standard getup.

White tie is designed in such a way as to make a man look as sharp as possible. These clothes emphasize his body’s good points and suppress the rest; the outfit makes the waist look narrower, the shoulders broader, the chest bigger. It is both extremely formal and exceedingly manly. And it is meant for vigorous activity, such as a night of dancing. Just ask Fred Astaire:

white-tie-stills02
He was great in Battlestar Galactica.

So if you’re going to dress up for evening superheroics, or to rob someone blind, you could do worse than to dress like this.

There are hints in the original Sailor Moon manga that Naoko Takeuchi didn’t know much about men’s dress in the West; indeed, there are hints that she simply copied the outfit worn by Bela Lugosi in Dracula, and thus inevitably missed certain details. This is evident in the pendant Tuxedo Mask wears around his neck, which is almost identical to Dracula’s. Compare these images:

Tuxedo Mask with pendant.
Dracula with pendant.
Count Dracula with pendant.

Dracula is dressed in full evening wear, and thus Tuxedo Mask is as well (notice that his bowtie is white). But various versions of Sailor Moon get various elements of white tie wrong.

Here are the basics, taken from Kelsi Trinidad, writing for The Gentlemanual:

The required parts of a White Tie ensemble include a white waistcoat (style of vest) worn over top of a white full-dress stiff bosom shirt with a detachable white pique wing collar. This shirt is secured white shirt studs and white cufflinks. A matching white bow tie is an absolute essential, hence the name of this dress code. On the bottom half is worn black pleated trousers with a black satin strip that covers the outer seams (known as the tuxedo stripe). These formal trousers can either be tightened with adjustable side tabs or held up by white suspenders that are worn under the waistcoat.

We should note that proportions are very important when it comes to full dress. The trousers are high-waisted (by today’s standards) and the waistcoat must cover the waistband of the trousers but cannot extend below the front of the tailcoat. Although this is this strictest code, you can add a subtle touch of your personal style with your choice of formal cufflinks (silver, mother of pearl, etc.), adding a boutonniere, or maybe integrating a white pocket square. Proper footwear is either the more traditional black patent court pump with grosgrain ribbon or black patent leather oxfords.

And here are images of Tuxedo Mask taken from the original manga:

D'oh.
D’oh.

We don’t have a very good view of his ensemble in this set of pictures, but what we can see does not, on the whole, look too bad. He has three (one hidden under the pendant) white studs on his shirt, which is correct, being the right color and the maximum allowable number, and three buttons on his waistcoat. The waistcoat might be a bit high, as formal evening waistcoats are cut out more deeply than suit vests, and the sleeves of his jacket might be too long, since he should have some cuff showing. The lapels of the jacket are also wrong, but we may attribute that to the art style; the lapels are suggested rather than drawn in. On the whole, this looks good.

So what is wrong here? Simple: this scene takes place in the daytime! Formal evening dress, such as he is apparently wearing, is to be worn after sundown, though in some areas, the rule is relaxed for practical reasons to after six PM. If he wishes to be formal, he should here be in morning dress, for which the Black Tie Guide offers helpful instructions. From the same source, this is morning dress:

This sure beats my own "bathrobe until 11:30" version of morning dress.
This sure beats my own “bathrobe until 11:30” version of morning dress.

Not only is Tuxedo Mask’s attire inappropriate for day, it’s also inappropriate for a notorious thief who’s casing a joint, as he’s doing in this scene. He might as well be walking down the street with a sign on his back that says, “I’m Tuxedo Mask. Arrest me.” The ’90s anime wisely alters this scene so that he’s in street clothes.

It’s difficult to tell the cut of Tuxedo Mask’s jacket from the manga, but here is an image that reveals the sad truth:

No tails.
No tails.

As his cape blows back, we see that Tuxedo Mask’s jacket is lacking tails. The evening tailcoat worn with white tie is a fitted jacket, cut to look double-breasted but designed to be left open in the front, and it has tails, often with hidden pockets in which a man can put his gloves while he’s dining.

Let us move on to the ’90s anime:

Wrong again!
Wrong again!

This on the whole looks reasonably decent. The shirt does not appear correct, but that should be overlooked because this is a cartoon with minimal detail. The trousers appear to be high, which is appropriate, and the waistcoat appears more-or-less correct: the waistcoat should cover the top of the trousers and hang at the same length as the jacket. Missing, however, are the tails, and no cuff is showing past the sleeves.

Note collar.
Note collar.

Here, Tuxedo Mask’s bowtie has gotten underneath the wing of his collar. This is excusable, as one’s clothing may shift while one is superheroing. His top hat has an awfully wide brim, but let’s not get too picky.

Sailor Moon Crystal, the latest version, is the most precise in detailing Tuxedo Mask’s outfit.

Tails!
Tails!

Not only has Crystal reintroduced the Dracula pendant, as seen in our first few images, but has also added a pocket square, which is a common accessory worn with white tie. Note in this image that the tails have also appeared on the jacket, and the cuffs are showing past the jacket sleeve. Sadly, Tuxedo Mask still hasn’t got it quite right: his waistcoat is too long. The waistcoat should stop where the jacket does.

Missing tails.
Missing tails.

The tails sometimes disappear in Crystal, but this is probably best understood as an animation error. In the image above, however, you can still see that the waistcoat is too long. Also, the tailcoat should have sleeves that attach very high: this is so that the coat doesn’t lift when a man raises his arms while he is dancing, conducting an orchestra, or trying to punch through a forcefield. Tuxedo Mask’s dress coat is not, apparently, cut quite right.

Waistcoat too long!
Waistcoat too long!

On the whole, Sailor Moon Crystal has the best Tuxedo Mask outfit of any. Its biggest error is clearly in making the waistcoat too long. Perhaps poor Tuxedo Mask didn’t understand the difference between a formal evening waistcoat and a regular suit waistcoat.

However, all the comic and cartoon versions of the Tuxedo Mask’s clothes are clearly better than some of the staged versions.  I mean, yikes …

All dressed up for prom!
All dressed up for prom!

I don’t know what that is, but no. Just no.

  • Unclever_Hans

    If white tie requires a waistcoat, does that mean that the pants were to be worn with suspenders?

    • Yes, unless the trousers are adjustable, they require suspenders. I have read that the suspenders should be white, and I believe we see Tuxedo Mask once or twice in the manga with his jacket off and black suspenders, so that’s another error.

      I’m not entirely sure why the color of the suspenders matters, since a man wouldn’t take off his jacket in a formal setting anyway.

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