There are certain garments that simply command respect; specific clothes that are held in revery, considered greater than almost all others. For French nobles in the middle ages, it was lace collars, breeches, powdered wigs and lavish shoes. For over a century now, there has been exactly one option for the ultimate in formal dress: the tuxedo.
The Early Years
Originating in the late 1880’s, the tuxedo grew out of the dress coat that English nobles would wear into town. Taking influences from both the dress coat and formal military attire, men began wearing ‘tailless dress coats’ in Tuxedo Park around 1888. Tuxedo Park, an upstate New York community, drew the wealthiest in the area for galas and vacations.
The earliest iterations of the tuxedo jacket were made from the same material as dress coats, featuring a shawl collar and had anywhere from zero to two buttons. By 1900, one button had become the standard of the jacket, and peak lapels had grown to rival the shawl collar in popularity. Around that time, the pants and jacket started being made from the same material, thus creating a more uniform appearance.
In the 1920s, notched lapels made a brief appearance on the tuxedo jacket, but their similarity to the lapels found on a casual business suit led them to be ultimately unpopular. By the 1930s, the braid (a strip of fabric that runs the length of the leg at the outside seams) had become yet another standard design choice. During that period, men began adopting double breasted and white jackets, especially in warmer weather.
Depending on who you ask, the tuxedo is either 130 years old or 151 years old; either way, men’s formal appearance has centered around one thing since the 1890s: the tuxedo.
At Henry A. Davidsen, our Philadelphia tailors can craft the most modern or classic iterations of men’s black tie attire. Cheers to many more years of the tuxedo.
Check back in with us for the second part of the series. Of course, if you’re interested in getting your own tuxedo in Philadelphia, give us a call, click, or stop in.