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What is the Met Gala’s dress code ‘Gilded Glamour’ and what is white-tie?


The biggest night in fashion is quickly approaching, with the 2022 Met Gala just days away.

The exclusive event will return to its pre-pandemic date of the first Monday in May on 2 May, when the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will unveil part two of its American fashion exhibit.

This year’s theme, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” follows the 2021 Met Gala, which took place in September and celebrated the first part of the exhibit’s theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

According to Vogue, in the latest exhibit, Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute, has focused “on the tenets of American style,” and highlighted the “anonymous and unsung heroes of US design”.

The stories reflect the evolution of American style, including the work of tailors, dress-makers and designers, Bolton said, adding that “one of the main intentions of the exhibition is to spotlight the talents and contributions of these individuals, and many of them are women”.

What is the dress code for the 2022 Met Gala?

Like years past, this year’s exclusive Met Gala invitations arrived with a dress code, with Vogue noting that the official 2022 dress code is gilded glamour, white-tie.

The dress code means attendees are asked to look to Gilded Age New York for inspiration, a time period that spanned from 1870 to 1890 and saw a boom in industrialisation, and, as a result, prosperity.

In New York, where a number of the country’s wealthiest families, including the Astors and Vanderbilts, congregated, the fashion of the time was largely influenced by the excess.

As noted by Vogue, various innovations during the time period meant fabric was “faster and cheaper to produce,” which meant women’s dresses “often featured a combination of many textiles, like satin, silk, velvet, and fringe, all adorned with over-the-top textures like lace, bows, frills, and ruffles”.

Corsets were also in style, as were bustles, while women often accessorised their boldly coloured outfits – the result of new, artificial dyes – with feather-adorned hats.

The formality of the time period’s style also extended to men, who adopted tuxedos from the English in the 1880s and often wore top hats.

The distinct style, of which Met Gala guests are expected to adhere on 2 May, is highlighted in HBO’s series The Gilded Age, which depicts the endless, extravagant wardrobes of New York City’s elite during the 1880s, and which is likely to serve as inspiration for attendees.

According to Vogue, New York City’s upper echelon was also fond of throwing costume parties during the time period, one of the most famous of which was the party Alva K Vanderbilt threw for her daughter Consuelo in March 1883.

The event saw 1,200 socialites in attendance, according to the Museum of the City of New York, which notes that many of the costumes featured real gems and took months to make.

Of the extravagant outfits, one of the “most amazing” was said to be worn by Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who chose to arrive as an electric light bulb. According to Vogue, the costume consisted of  a “white gown satin trimmed with diamonds, complete with a diamond headpiece and a light bulb as a jewellery accessory”.

Like previous years, the Met Gala theme, and dress code, is about interpretation –  however, it is likely we will see corsets, full-skirted gowns, and top hats on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum on Monday evening.

What is white-tie?

As for the white-tie portion of the dress code, Brides notes that white-tie is the “most formal dress code” and is typically “interpreted as floor-length gowns for women and a black jacket or coat with tails and matching pants for men”.

While most of the Gilded Age’s fashion has been left behind for decades, the Met Gala’s latest dress code will see the biggest names in fashion embrace the extravagant outfits of the past for just one night.

The 2022 Met Gala will take place on Monday 2 May, with the exhibit set to open to the public on 7 May. You can find everything to know about the theme and the Met Gala’s hosts here, and details about how to watch the biggest night in fashion here.


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