27 Oct Party Season……
Not too sure how it happened but the party season is nearly upon us. With a number of stunning creations in the works, clients have had fun with embracing colours, maybe its a kick back from Daniel Craig as 007, as I have three blue velvets and also a maroon in the works!
The history of the Dinner Suit dates back to the 1860’s, with the increasing rise of outdoor events amongst the middle and upper classes here in Great Britain. With the Lounge suit being adopted as an alternative to more formal day wear. A more formal tailcoat became popular for evening wear. The Prince of Wales is recorded to have worn one of the first tailless coats, at Sandringham and then after Edward VII which was referred to as a smoking jacket.
The Prince’s experimentation became more and more apparent around 1885 enjoying “a garment of many colours, such as was worn by our ancestors” and “short garments coming down to the waist and made on the model of the military men’s jackets.” These garments we refer to as a suit jacket with tailcoat finishes, were first described around the same time Cowes (the English coastal jaunt and best known as the home of British yachting), which the Prince enjoyed and was closely associated. At that time it was used for warm weather use but soon rose in favour to informal winter occasions. This evening tailcoat would have been worn with all the same accoutrements as the tailcoat which included the trousers.
Interestingly in the USA the earliest reference to a dress coat, were the summer and fall of 1886 and, as with the British references from this time, it varied between waist-length mess jacket and the more widely accepted suit jacket. It was Tuxedo Park where the wealthy would gather for upstate New York countryside events that Griswold Lorillard, a son of one of the founders, and his friends who were often written about in society columns for their flamboyancy. They arrived dressed to the nines at the club’s first Autumn Ball which would have been in October 1886 wearing the ” tailless dress coat”. Sadly we don’t know if this garment was a mess jacket or actually a conventional dinner jacket, from there Tuxedo Park was prevalent in the world of society gatherings and from where the name came from.
It was James Brown Potter a resident of Tuxedo Park, who wrote about this new look and many period newspapers give account that first the jacket was worn by dapper young mavericks to formal events and gatherings which then would have been considered strictly formal. The American establishment at first rejected it, but by 1888 society accepted its position as a popular garment at both summer and informal evenings marking it as very much part of look of the day.
The fabrics used for the jackets and trousers were heavier, Barathea type fabrics associated with a coat, with a dressy Shawl lapel in satin, or ribbed silk, either no button or two buttoned on the jacket. By the early part of the 20th century the peak lapel with a one button became extremely popular too. It was the Edwardian dandies who were noted for using both Oxford grey or very dark blue for their evening attire.
By the time of the first World War the grey option was less favoured but the midnight blue became increasingly popular and rivalled the more widely used black by the mid 1930s. We then saw the introduction of Notch lapels, a look associated from an ordinary business suit, and considered vogue in the 1920s. The trousers started to be finished with braid along the out-seam of each leg and this became standard by the 1930s. The look continued to evolve with double-breasted jackets and white jackets also becoming favoured in hot weather.
By the 1950’s, there was a rise in colours, texture, and patterns too. The 60’s continued experimenting regardless of the seasons. And the 70’s saw the Notch lapel fade and large Peak lapels appear on many musicians, actors and fashionistas which was quite the look of time. Notch lapels returned in the 1980s, and in the 1990s ‘tuxedo’ jackets emanated traits of the business suit, such as two- and three-button, with flap pockets, and centre vents. These trends continued into the 21st century and midnight blue is again a popular alternative. With less rules, lighter fabrics, and many Mills offering fabrics which are far from plain, the Dinner Jacket has evolved to be another way to truly express your personality should you wish.
In the last decade I have made a number of Dinner Suits/Tuxedos for Weddings which I have to say looks fabulous in the black & white photos…..
……..aswell as events such as Awards and Dinners.