Our Top Ten Women in Tuxedos

Serena Doherty May 17, 2019 Burlesque Clothing
Women in Tuxedos

Women in tuxedos can be feminine, chic and sexy. Here’s our top ten ladies who nailed top and tails whilst opening up the cross-dressing doors for women to come. Hold on to your top hats…

Our Top Ten Women in Tuxedos

The entertainment industry has always allowed for more self-expression and women in tuxedos are no different. The stage, screen and high fashion have portrayed women rocking their top and tails time and time again.

The red carpet trend has been revitalised, especially in 2014 from Angelina Jolie to Ellen Page on IBT but there’s a longer history.

Here are our favourite women who wore it best and showed how it’s done.

10. Ellen DeGeneres

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Huffington Post)

Ellen DeGeneres has had a well documented career from acting to hosting. She also knows how to wear a suit.

In the (above) Academy Awards promo she’s seen in Saint Laurent. Ellen DeGeneres followed in the footsteps of the iconic Yves Saint Laurent le smoking high fashion women’s tuxedo of the 60s and we love it.

See her wonderful opening to the 86th Oscars in this video alongside her spiffy ensemble.

9. Tilda Swinton

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Telegraph)

Scottish actress, Tilda Swinton is also perpetuating high fashion androgynous chic. Seen here for Viktor and Rolf, she shows a laid back updated look.

She also rocks it like no other with her ethereal beauty whether strutting the red carpet at Cannes Film festival or in a white alternative.

8. Anna May Wong

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Teenage Film)

The first Chinese-American movie star, Anna May Wong is one of our all-time 20s icons for many reasons. She can also absolutely own a tuxedo.

This wonderful lady was held back from being a leading lady by anti-miscegenation laws at the time. They put in place that she couldn’t lock lips with a white male actor even though her talent was undeniable.

This fierce image is just one more reason to love this amazing woman who broke the rules for the better.

7. Brigitte Bardot

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Another Mag)

There’s also an element of cross-dressing with women in tuxedos. A lovely example of this is none other than Brigitte Bardot as Charlie Chaplin.

The former French actress and 60s style icon shows her slap-stick side by impersonating the silent movie legend. With a little tongue-in-cheek, she’s even more fabulous in our eyes.

6. Gladys Bentley

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Black Tie Guide)

Now for a cult icon after our own hearts, Gladys Bentley. This wonderful blues singer gained celebrity status in the 1920s as part of the Harlem Renaissance.

As A. Jasper explains: “She flaunted her sexual orientation and reputation as a ‘bulldagger’ or butch lesbian.”

“She was a 250 pound woman dressed in men’s clothes (including a signature [tailcoat] and top hat), who played piano and sang her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day in a deep, growling voice while flirting outrageously with women in the audience.”

Gladys Bentley was known for appealing to all races and sexualities. For her time, this cabaret performer was fearless and for that reason her story still resonates today.

5. Dita Von Teese

Women in Tuxedos

(Image by Todd Williamson)

LA burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese doesn’t just wear a tuxedo. She strips it off too. Her signature The Swarovski Martini burlesque dancing act begins with this look.

She then reveals her sparkling under-bust corset and whittles down to her g-string and pasties before bathing in the glass. This routine is all about glamour and excess. What’s not to love?

Dita Von Teese’s celebrity-status has spread the good-word of burlesque through mainstream media. Plus she has inspired many burlesque dancers and beyond by constantly pushing the envelope.

See Dita Von Teese Tour in pictures.

4. Josephine Baker

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Equals)

Josephine Baker was the first African-American woman to star in a motion picture and she’s also a renowned 20s burlesque dancer. It seems the 1920s were the age of the tuxedo, not that we’re complaining.

This vivacious, impressive woman is still highly influential today. Rihanna was seen this Awards Season going full Josephine Baker.

Wearing a tuxedo is likely the least of her many accomplishments but a brilliant one nonetheless. Just look at modern American singer, Janelle Monáe channelling the look.

3. Vesta Tilley

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Chaplin Life)

English music hall performer, Vesta Tilley was the most famous male impersonator of the Victorian era. Not to mention the best paid woman in Britain at time, according to the Black Tie Guide.

A consumate professional, she would spend months preparing characters and was popular amongst both male and female audiences. Vesta Tilley was lovably bawdy for some and a role model of female independence for others.

Yet, she had to dress particularly feminine offstage to protect herself against criticism. Though, her humour and success forged the way for women to come.

2. Madonna

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from E! Online)

Pop culture heroine, Madonna, is known for championing the tuxedo. She wore that suit in ‘Vogue‘, was the groom during that VMAs performance and somehow balances both ringmaster and pimp whilst posing for the paps.

There’s almost an endless list of Madonna-looks that pepper fancy dress parties and lets be honest: most of our wardrobes. Our favourite this year had to be The Grammys. (You have to be patient but worth the wait). However, no video suits this list better than this one.

1. Marlene Dietrich

Women in Tuxedos

(Image from Miss Owl)

The influence of German actress, Marlene Dietrich can be firmly felt within this list. Her first American film Morocco (1930) saw her portray a cabaret performer. We’re already won.

She also already had a penchant for cross-dressing in her personal life but the movie saw her win the hearts of the fictional audience and film-goers. Reminisce about that moment with this clip complete with commentary from Quentin Crisp and Susie Bright. Bravo!

Check out Liza Minnelli Cabaret Costume Ideas.

(Main image from Classiq)