June 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

We don’t all look as good as George Clooney when wearing a tuxedo, but what man does not look better—a whole lot better—than when wearing one. The design has not changed much over the decades, and there is not much reason to change it.

Despite the garment starting out in Britain, the name tuxedo is American, and has become somewhat universal. The British also refer to this a dinner jacket, and given its origins, it is perhaps the correct name.

It started life when the Saville Row (London) tailor Henry Poole & Co designed and made a smoking jacket for the then Prince of Wales in 1860. When New York millionaire James Poole visited the prince, he was sent to Poole & Co in response to his question as to what to wear to dinner. Note that the custom of the time was to wear formal evening clothes to dinner. In the case of males, this was white tie and tails. The regular length black dinner jacket and black tie were referred to—and in the UK still are—as informal or semi-formal.

When he returned home, James Poole wore his dinner jacket to the Tuxedo Park Club, a residential country club for the elite of New York. Apparently Poole’s fellow members liked his jacket, as they copied it and it became the preferred dress for informal dining. When they wore it to dine in public in New York restaurants, the jacket became permanently linked to the name of the club.


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