11 December 2010

Black Tie Event - The Dinner Jacket

The Dinner jacket evolved from the smoking jacket. In 1860, tailors Henry Poole & Co made a short black smoking jacket for the trend setting Prince of Wales (later to be Edward VII)  to wear to semi-formal gatherings away from London as a comfortable alternative to the stuffy formal wear of the tail coat.
James Potter a rich New Yorker took the look back to the states with him where it proved so popular at the exclusive country club, the Tuxedo Park Club; it became their informal dining uniform.  And you’ve guessed it - the jacket became known as a tuxedo.
In fact the name tuxedo came years before the name dinner jacket. In Britain it was still known as a smoking or lounge jacket.

What style jacket to choose?
Moss Bros/PRShots- examples of shawl collar(front) & notched collar(back)

 The original style was a shawl collar and one buttoned single breasted (derived from the smoking jacket), then came along a more formal look of peaked lapels (from the tailcoat) and later and now more popular are the notched lapels (from lounge suits).
 The shawl collar is softer and would suit the rounder guy and also guys with softer facial features.
Moss Bros/PRShots Example of a peaked collar
The more ostentatious peaked lapels sweep wider than the shawl so will widen the chest area for the slimmer build and also the upward sweep will make shorter guys appear taller. The sharpness of the peaked lapel also suits sharper facial features.
The notched lapel is the most popular although considered less formal by traditionalists.

The first double breasted dinner jacket was ordered from Savile Row by song and dance man Jack Buchanan and was popularised by the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor) in the 1930s. This style is best for the slim to skinny guys as it adds bulk. However it does make the body appear shorter, so it is a good choice for the very tall guy but not so good for the smaller man who should stick to single breasted.  The rounder guys should also avoid double breasted and go for the more slimming one buttoned single breasted style.

Most DJ’s are vent less which create the illusion of height and a slimmer silhouette – especially great for the shorter guys and the heavier guys.  Some do have side vents but are less formal and don’t look as elegant, best kept for the taller and skinnier guys.

What colour?

Primark/PRShots- navy tuxedo
Always black or midnight blue.  Both are the only acceptable formal colours, so please do not be tempted to wear any other colour. The midnight blue has more depth and is said to look more black than black in artificial light. Black can take on a greenish hue.  The wearing of midnight blue was popularised by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor) in the 1920’s. However it is not as popular today and is hard to find unless you have one custom made, which can be expensive.
 www.asuitthatfits.com is reasonable starting from £210 and has fine Kid mohair in midnight blue.  For designer wear, Calvin Klein has a 2 buttoned single breasted suit (Troy) in midnight blue and going to the other end of the market, Primark has a navy tuxedo suit.
If you purchase just one DJ then go for black, people will notice the midnight blue more and realise you only have one formal suit. With the black you can get away with owning just one.

Hire or to buy?
It’s nice to own a dinner jacket, you don’t have to run around looking for a suit to hire, you’re ready for any short notice formals and you know no one else has worn it.  But if your body shape changes and you gain a few pounds over the years then squeezing in to a tight fitting DJ is not the best look, besides being very uncomfortable.
With hiring you know it’s going to fit you every time and if you don’t go to many black tie events, it’ll work out cheaper.  Also you can choose different styles and designers each time. Austin Reed and Moss Bros are established places to hire black tie attire. Austin Reed has a new Q Club you can join to help you choose the right formal wear. www.qtheclub.co.uk.
Moss Bros/PRShots - Hugo Boss suit
Moss Bros have designer dinner suits such as the one button peak lapel Hugo Boss dinner jacket with matching trousers, Ben Sherman and a three button Ted Baker.
Ede & Ravenscroft black tie attire
If you are planning on going to several black ties then in the long run buying is the cheaper option .-Ede & Ravenscroft are specialist in formal wear and have an extensive selection of tailoring  and accessories ranging from £395 for the dinner jackets and £154.99 for the evening trousers at time of print.

Matalan/PRShots- formal trousers with braces
The trousers
Obviously have to be cut from the same cloth as the jacket so buy or hire together. The fabric on the seams should match the fabric on the jacket’s lapels- satin or grosgrain
The more formal have front pleats, are high waisted and held up by braces.  This style hides a less than perfectly flat stomach, makes the legs look longer, and allows a looser waistband for those large meals.  It may not be cutting edge fashion but we’re talking tradition and style here.
Definitely do not wear a belt.

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Tuxedos on Amazon:
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  1. Love the dinner jacket so much. Love them like how I love double breasted suits before.

  2. Thanks for a great post! I like the first picture the best. For some reason
    it reminds me of scene out of a movie!

  3. Very nice dinner jacket. Its looking so beautiful. I really like it.
    mens smoking jacket
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bring back the Double Breasted dinner suit! http://www.henryherbert.com/double-breasted-dinner-suit/