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    Fashion History Classics: Who invented the Men’s Tuxedo?

    The men’s tuxedo, aka tailcoat was invented by Henry Poole of namesake Tailor Company Henry Poole & Co. in London in 1860. Located on London’s famous Savile Row, Poole created a less formal version of the tailcoat, a short smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII of the United Kingdom) to wear it to informal dinner parties. Due to the Prince’s recommendation to tailor a dinner dress only at Henry Poole & Co Company, the tuxedo became quickly famous in 1886, when New York’s millionaire James Potter brought the dinner suit home with him to the Tuxedo Park Club, a newly established residential country club for New York’s elite. The coat style was then adopted by New York’s society, when Griswold Lorillard, son of one of the Tuxedo Park founders, wore it to the wealthy enclave’s 1886 Autumn Ball. The “tuxedo” became its name since the Tuxedo Park Club’s members began to wear the jacket in public and onlookers came to associate the jacket with the club’s name.

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    The tuxedo, or casually tux is also known as dinner jacket. Today, the terms are variously used in different parts of the world. The tux is most used in North America where it is increasingly used to refer to any type of formal coat including an evening tailcoat and cutaway (morning coat in British English). In Britain it is sometimes used to refer to the white version of the suit jacket. Conversely, this white jacket is generally known as a dinner jacket in North America. In Europe the jacket is called a smoking.

    Although the smoking jacket’s shawl collar was the original collar of the tuxedo jacket, the peaked lapel taken from the tailcoat had become equally popular by the turn of the twentieth century. By this time the jacket was invariably a one-button single-breasted model with no vents. Trousers matched the jacket which was most commonly black although Edwardian dandies often opted for Oxford gray or a very dark blue. By the 1930s the double-breasted jackets and white jackets became acceptable for formal evenings. Following World War II the tuxedo began to take on traits that deviated from the strict black-and-white interpretation maintained by the black tie dress code. Color, texture and pattern became increasingly popular in warm-weather jackets to the point where Americans associated the term dinner jacket solely with these separates rather than as a general synonym for tuxedo. In the 1980s tuxedo jackets increasingly took on traits of the business suit such as two- and three-button styling, flap pockets and center vents. Most notably, the notch lapel had become the most common lapel style by the turn of the millennium, but is still not accepted by traditionalists.

    Related Articles:
    1_Fashion History Classics: Yves Saint Laurent’s women’s tuxedo
    2_Henry Poole & Co in speakfashion’s fashion dictionary
    3_Fashion Classics in speakfashion’s fashion history


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