Tuxedo - Smoking - Dinner Jacket - Guide
Vesper Lynd put it succinctly in Casino Royal:
"There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And i need you looking like a man who belongs at that table."
(Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale)
Casino Royale Daniel Craig (bamfstyle.com)
At the latest with the dress code Black Tie on your next invitation you will have to deal with the tuxedo dress code.
In this blog post I would like to introduce you to the basics of a Tuxedo, or Smoking as it is called in German-speaking countries - as well as in France and Italy. Our British neighbors use the term - Dinner Jacket.
From the basic elements to sound background knowledge, you will get a detailed insight into the subject:
Cary Grant - stylish ease / pic courtesy of Pinterest
What does the dress code Black Tie mean?
Basically, Black Tie is a dress code that for men consists of the traditional Dinner Jacket and associated garments: a black Smoking and matching trousers, an optional black formal vest or cummerbund, a white formal shirt, a black bow tie or alternatively a black long tie, black socks and black formal shoes. In warm weather, a white tuxedo may also be worn, and the cummerbund is the preferred waist covering.
Why is it called a Smoking, Tuxedo or Dinner Jacket?
USA: The tuxedo made its US debut in the exclusive enclave of Tuxedo Park in New York, which is where it got its American nickname.
Germany, Italy and France: Actually, the name says it all: for Smoking - and that's exactly what the tuxedo was once intended for. The smokers put it on when they went into the smoking salon, to which the ladies had no access. When they came out, they took the Jacket off again so as not to bother the ladies with the smell.
UK: The dinner jacket was worn instead of the white tie jacket when going to the smoking room after dinner to have a digestif or play cards. Since the smell of smoke was considered unacceptable to the ladies, a change of at least the jacket was indispensable.
Entrance Tuxedo Park 1940 Postcard hippostcard.com
A brief history of the emergence of the Dinner Jacket.
In fact, the history of the dinner jacket itself is somewhat surprising. The first dinner jacket, designed by Henry Poole for the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII), was not actually formal attire at all, but intended for more casual dinners. At the time - the mid-1860s - formal evening wear meant a white tie, white vest, and tails. In contrast, Poole's suit was the first ever tailless evening wear: he tailored a blue silk smoking jacket with matching trousers for the prince. The suit was not called a tuxedo at all, but a dinner jacket. It wasn't until 1885, after Poole died and an American, James Brown Potter, saw the Prince of Wales in his tuxedo during a visit to the United Kingdom, that the tuxedo gained widespread popularity. Potter, who lived in the wealthy Hudson Valley enclave of Tuxedo Park, brought the outfit home with him. The coffeehouse owner, who was famously married to socialite Cora Urquhart Brown-Potter, wore it to the Tuxedo Club's Fall Ball in 1886, giving the garment its now official name. Around the same time, a group of wealthy men cut off the tails of their jackets and began wearing the shortened style to formal occasions. When a group of men in tuxedos were admitted to the Dress Circle at the Metropolitan Opera, the signs were clear: the once casual tuxedo was now appropriate for formal occasions.
Let's get an overview
We begin our overview about the basics of a Black Tie event by establishing the "what", "when", "who", "where" and "why" of the dress code.
The first of the "five W's" that should be answered is logically the question, What exactly does Black Tie mean? The true definition, as is so often the case when it comes to style, lies in the details of the dress code. Despite the diversity of experts and the centuries-long evolution of the Black Tie dress code, the cumulative details are largely identical, eliminating the misconception that it is simply a matter of personal opinion.
The Dinner Jacket
Fabric: Black virgin wool is the norm, but midnight blue is also acceptable.
Silhoutte: Depending on personal preference, a man can wear a single-breasted or double-breasted jacket.
Lapel: Pointed lapel or also rising lapel
Material: Satin trim
Vents: without vents is the most formal option, side vents are acceptable
Closure: one button is common for single-breasted models
Pockets: make sure that there are no flaps on them
- same material as the jacket
- simple braid along the outer seams, matching the lapels
- cut for suspenders (have buttons sewn in for fastening suspenders)
- no trouser lapels
The waist covering, also called cummerbund.
The optional waist covering is traditionally a black silk cummerbund, which must necessarily match the lapel material.
For single-breasted models, a cummerbund is recommended so that the white of the shirt is not visible, giving the whole outfit a more elegant touch.
- with a double-breasted model, it is not worn.
Hawes & Curtis Cufflinks and Studs
- white fabric with tailcoat collar or also called tuxedo collar
- the fronts can be either pleated or piqué. For a piqué shirt in the United
Kingdom, ask for a Marcella shirt.
- shirt traditionally has eyelets for studs; some authorities allow fly-fronts
- French cuffs are nothing more than double cuffs in the U.K.
-black silk bow tie with self-tie, matching the lapel.
If they are inclined to a tie, observe the following rule:
- narrow black tie to match the lapel material. Please base your knot on a Windsor knot or a half Windsor knot. However, traditionalists refuse to wear a tie, so find out exactly before the event.
Don't know how to tie a bow tie yourself? You Tube can also help, and then practice, practice and practice again.
- Patent or highly polished leather oxfords (most popular)
- Patent or highly polished leather loafers (most traditional)
- black silk or fine fabric socks and please wear knee-length socks
- harmonizing black, gold or mother-of-pearl studs (decorative buttons for the shirt) and cufflinks
- suspenders made of black or white silk
- optional white silk or linen handkerchief as pocket square
The Chesterfield coat is most common, but any other dark, elegant coat is acceptable; raincoats (trench coats) are not appropriate
White silk evening scarf with tassels
Variation for warm weather
The following outfit is acceptable as a substitute for a "black tie" event, year-round in tropical climates and summer in North America:
Smoking Off-white by Brioni
- white or preferably ivory
all other details as for the classic "Black Tie" event.
all other details as for standard wardrobe trousers
3. waist coverage
as for the standard shirt for the "Black Tie" event
as for the standard event
same rules as for the "Black Tie" event.
optionally colored silk or linen handkerchief as a
pocket handkerchief, all other details as for the standard tuxedo accessories
Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca