Dinner jacket vs. tuxedo jacket — what’s the difference?

So, here’s the thing. We are getting closer to prime wedding season.

You might be starting to think about your attire for these formal events — or maybe you are a last minute guy and so I’m giving you a heads up. But the fact remains, weddings are coming whether you like it or not.

Formal attire can get a little confusing. There are dinner jackets and sport coats, tuxedos and suits. You might be wondering which you should wear, but we are gonna talk about something a little different today. (If you are curious about the latter subject, check out my article from May 2017).

I want to give you a little history lesson on men’s fashion. Going back in time can be fun, and this particular lesson gives us a more practical understanding of the different pieces of men’s clothing.

If you have experience with formal men’s clothing, you have probably encountered both a tuxedo and a dinner jacket. You may have noticed that the two seem to be fairly similar, so how do you tell the difference?

Here’s the part where we dive into our time portal. I want to take you back to London in 1865. It was here that Henry Poole & Co. — one of London’s most esteemed and oldest tailors — was working with a rather prestigious client — Edward VII, a future king of England.

Our friend Edward was a little tired of being the only one sporting tails at dinner parties, so Henry Poole decided to create something new. He designed a piece that looked like the previous evening dress but without the tails and with a lower front. The result was a more relaxed formal attire that Poole named the “dinner jacket.”

Poole also created one of his new designs for another client — an American who lived in New York. This client brought his new dinner jacket home with him to his Tuxedo Park neighborhood. Before long, a few of Poole’s other New York clients began sporting their dinner jackets back at home. They came to be known as the “Tuxedo Boys” and it was not long before the jacket was being called a tuxedo jacket in the U.S.

So now you know the secret. A dinner jacket and a tuxedo jacket seem similar because they are the same thing. These two pieces have different names in different parts of the world, but their origins and design are the same. Now you have one less thing to worry about when choosing your attire for your next formal or semi-formal event.

It’s always fun to learn a bit of history every now and then. I hope you feel a little bit more informed now that you know this tale of the disappearing tails.

Are you confused about any other details of men’s fashion? Let me know.


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