Formal Wear - Dinner Jacket History
By Mark Ferguson
As the name suggests the dinner jacket was first made as a less formal dining ensemble to be worn in the privacy of a person’s home or club. The original design was created for Prince of Wales in the late nineteenth century so he could break from the tradition of wearing tales to dinner each night. The first model was supposedly single breasted with a shawl lapel. To give you an insight into where the word Tuxedo came from, in 1886 a group of upstate New Yorkers founded a private club called Tuxedo Park. In the spring of that year one of the members visited England with his wife who apparently caught the eye of the Prince of Wales, therefore they were both invited to his estate for dinner. The Prince of Wales suggested he wear a dinner jacket for the occasion and upon returning to Tuxedo Park he wore the dinner jacket which was then adopted by other members. The members of Tuxedo Park were then recognised because of the new form of jacket, hence the jacket name ‘Tuxedo’ becoming somewhat the norm. Generally though, it is correctly termed dinner jacket both here and aboard.
Types of Dinner Jackets
As a direct descendant of the tailcoat, the single breasted dinner jacket with peak lapels gives all men prominence and height with usually only one button to fasten, although you do commonly see a two button version. Traditionally the double breasted dinner jacket offers equal distinction, but is less popular at this time of the fashion cycle. The shawl collar dinner jacket conveys somewhat more of an old world image than the peak lapel with the curve of the lapel favouring more angular facial features.
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