From international press conferences to lectures with the world’s most elite scholars, George Smith and other Nobel Prize recipients must follow a strict set of established procedures and traditions.

This means attending a series of high-profile events that have a precise dress code.

Most events simply require a suit, though the Dec. 10 banquet and ceremony ask male recipients to arrive in a precisely defined set of tails, waistcoat, white bow tie and black formal shoes.

The men’s attire is described as follows: “A black tailcoat with silk facings, sharply cut away at the front, black trousers with two rows of braid down each leg, white stiff-fronted shirt, white stiff wing collar attached to the shirt with collar studs, white bowtie, white low-cut waistcoat, black dress socks and black formal shoes. Shirt studs and cufflinks should be silver or white. A white handkerchief is usually worn.”

“We look like identical penguins, and the women are the only color,” Smith said.

Smith, an MU professor emeritus who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the first such honor for the university, is one of 12 laureates this year. They will accept their medals from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in the Stockholm Concert Hall.

It will not be Smith’s first time at the ceremony, however. He attended in 2001, when he spoke at a chemistry conference that was simultaneously taking place. He had to wear formal attire then, too, but he actually made the process more difficult by renting in Columbia and carrying it to Sweden.

The Nobel Prize has a longstanding relationship with Hans Allde, a formal clothing shop in Stockholm that handles fittings and rentals for the laureates and their guests.

Smith sent his measurements ahead of time and said he will visit the shop for finishing touches once he arrives in Stockholm.

For women, things are more complicated. The men are able to wear the same formal wear to all occasions, but women are unlikely to want to wear one gown over and over.

“I spent the month of October shopping,” said Smith’s wife, Marjorie Sable. “There are four affairs that require a long gown.”

Each recipient is required to give a lecture on the subject for which the prize has been awarded. There is no set of guidelines or dress code, according to Smith, and he plans to wear MU gear if he can.

“I’m planning to wear my Mizzou jacket, my Mizzou scarf, and ,you know, just, like, my regular corduroy trousers,” Smith said.

Maybe not quite that much gear, but at the very least, he said he will wear a black-and-gold plaid tie.

The entire Nobel event takes place Friday through Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden, and will be livestreamed in part at campus locations.


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