Spring, the season of new beginnings, love and hope. As it draws ever closer, so does the season for Spring weddings. And what better for Spring weddings than the tuxedo.
The tuxedo, also known as the dinner jacket or smoking jacket, made its debut around 1887 in England, with the U.S following suit 2 years later. Named after Tuxedo Park, a Hudson Valley enclave for the social elite of New York, it initially only referred to the jacket, up to the 1900s where it began to be associated with the suit as a whole together with its corresponding pants and accessories.
With the increasing popularity of outdoor activities amongst the British upper and middle classes, a demand for a more casual alternative to the formal day wear and tailcoats of the evening arose. It was first seen on the likes of the Prince of Wales (later becoming Edward VII of the United Kingdom), ordered and made by Savile Row tailors Henry Poole & Co., for use at Sandhingdram, the Prince's informal estate.
The first tuxedos, made out of the same black material as the dress coat, came with the option of one, two or no buttons, with a shawl collar faced with satin or ribbed silk. The peaked lapel gained popularity in the 1900s, and later on the notched lapel. Oxford grey and very dark navy blues were the go-to colours for the traditional dandy. By the 1930s the "midnight blue" alternative grew in demand, and the single stripe of braid covering the outseam of the pants became more common, later becoming a standard. All buttons on the tuxedo (down the front and four on each sleeve) are traditionally covered with the same satin facing as the lapels, as are the pocket welts. A tuxedo jacket also had no vents, or had double vents at the back (though nowadays a single centre vent is becoming more accepted, though not for black tie events).
A tuxedo is always accompanied by its accessories, traditionally being that of a formal shirt (with a wing tip collar, pleats in the front in the form of a bib and metal stud buttons, together with french cuffs and cufflinks), a black bow tie, a formal low-cut waistcoat in a "V" or "U" shape and formal black shoes. The cuffs of the shirt should be just peeking beneath the jacket hem, with just a hint of cufflinks. A cummerbund was also worn, though people could opt for the either the waistcoat or the cummerbund (so as to cover the top of the pants to make the look seamless, as is the logic of the single stripe down the outseam of the pants). The accessories paired with the tuxedo have evolved over time, now also including the pocket square. Socks worn with formal shoes should also always be black.
The tuxedo is a form of evening wear, and therefore should be worn only in the evenings, and as a general etiquette rule should not be worn by boys under the age of 15.
Here at Q MENSWEAR we offer bespoke tuxedo and full black-tie styling services, feel free to drop by our store if you are interested in engaging us.