A letter to grooms from a custom clothier Part 3

{Since being in this business 10 years, I venture to guess I've spoken with 750 grooms at one point or another.  This is a series highlighting those 750 conversations distilled to one.}

Courtney & Morgan • Photo by  William West Studio

Courtney & Morgan • Photo by William West Studio

In Part 1 of our series, we referenced questioning your style choices based on your decision to wear a suit or tuxedo for your wedding day.  Here, we'll help you answer that basic but major decision.

In 1865, Henry Poole & Co. made a "celestial blue evening coat" for the future King Edward VII.  Poole clientele, including Pierre Lorillard, became familiar with this newly minted 'dinner jacket' and began a shift in evening wear at their club in Tuxedo Park, NY.  Ultimately, it was the facing of the jacket's lapel in silk that originally created the tuxedo as we know it.  After years of tinkering and tweaking did we end up with the traditional styling of a tuxedo that is as follows;

  • Silk (satin or grosgrain) facing on the lapel with the same silk covering the buttons and facing the outer seam of the trousers

  • A peaked lapel or shawl collar was preferred over a notched lapel

  • One button front closure

  • Jetted front pockets (on both the jacket & trousers)

  • Non-vented jacket - vents were added to jackets for the purpose of riding a horse and formal jackets were never worn whilst on horseback {this is the only tradition that has since fallen by the wayside as most jackets, tuxedos included, are vented nowadays}

  • No belt loops or cuffs/turn ups

If you're interested in wearing a traditional tuxedo, following those points should be of the utmost importance.  They highlight what constitutes "black tie" formalwear.  "White tie" often referred to the wearing of a black mess jacket with tails and a low-cut or scoop waistcoat in white that matched the white of the bow tie.  "Morning wear" is an inherently British style, worn at ceremonial functions during the day and consisting of a dove grey striped trouser paired with a tailed morning coat.

Over the past century liberties in formalwear have been taken.  More recently, two button notched lapel tuxedos with long ties show up on the backs of famous actors at the Academy Awards made by fashion houses that are high end yet household names.  Afterwards, more accessible fashion brands duplicate those looks and sell them in department stores, making it seem like a new standard.  This new era of "dinner wear" has created hybrid looks that are predicated on style and comfort and not etiquette and ritual.

The dinner jacket has propelled forward as a staple in the dinner wear category.  It differs from a tuxedo in that the jacket and trouser fabrics do not match.  Typically the trousers from a tuxedo are worn with a dinner jacket, which is made of a fancier fabric (typically a silk, wool/silk or wool/viscose blend).  Off white dinner jackets were some of the first to be popularized, notably on the likes of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, but hundreds of styles exist in todays world of weddings and fashion. 

Knowing what constitutes a tuxedo may help steer you towards wearing (or choosing not to wear) one.  Most men dream of looking like James Bond, Fred Astaire or Clark Gable at one point or another but it boils down to whether or not you'll look and feel your best at your wedding in a traditionally formal outfit. Regardless of your choice, you can rest assured your fiancé will be just as smitten.