Four men in tuxedos (note that the two in the center wear shawl collars while those on the outside wear notch lapels)

A tuxedo (American English) or dinner suit or dinner jacket (British English) is a semi-formal suit distinguished primarily by satin or grosgrain facings on the jacket’s lapels and buttons and a similar stripe along the outseam of the trousers. The suit is typically black and commonly worn with a formal shirt, shoes and other accessories, most traditionally in the form prescribed by the black tie dress code.


Although many etiquette and sartorial experts have insisted for a century that tuxedo is less correct than dinner jacket, the first written reference to tuxedo predates dinner jacket by two years: tuxedo first appeared in 1889[1] while dinner jacket is dated only to 1891. Today, the terms are variously used in different parts of the world. Tuxedo (or, colloquially, tux) sees most use in North America where it is increasingly used to refer to any type of formal coat including an evening tailcoat and cutaway (morning coat in British English). In Britain it is sometimes used to refer to the white version of the suit jacket. Conversely, this white jacket is generally known as a dinner jacket in North America.[2]

In French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian and also other European languages, the jacket is called a smoking. In French the shawl-collared version is le smoking Deauville, while the peaked-lapel version is le smoking Capri.



In the 1860s the increasing popularity of outdoor activities among the British middle and upper classes led to a corresponding increase in the popularity of the casual lounge suit (standard suit in American English) as a country alternative to more formal day wear that was traditionally worn in town. Men also sought a similar alternative to the extremely formal tailcoat worn every evening. The solution for some country squires was to enhance the casual velvet smoking jacket by importing the evening tailcoat’s fabric and finishes thus making it acceptable for informal meals at home.

The tuxedo's history dates from 1860, when Henry Poole & Co. (Savile Row's founders), created a short smoking jacket for the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII of the United Kingdom) to wear to informal dinner parties. In the summer of 1886 the Prince invited New York millionaire James Potter and his actress wife Cora Potter to Sandringham House, his Norfolk hunting estate. When Potter asked for a dinner dress recommendation, the Prince sent Potter to his tailors Henry Poole & Co., in London, to obtain the new style of jacket. Potter then brought the dinner suit home with him to Tuxedo Park Club, a newly established residential country club for New York’s elite. The dinner suit proved popular; the club men copied him, soon making it their informal dining uniform.[3][4]

According to second-hand sources dating back to the 1930s, the coat style was then adopted by New York society when Griswold Lorillard, son of one of the Tuxedo Park founders, wore it to the wealthy enclave's 1886 Autumn Ball. These sources cite an article in the society newspaper Town Topics that described how Lorillard arrived in “a tailless dress coat and waistcoat of scarlet satin, looking for all the world like a royal footman”.[5] In actual fact, the Town Topics article has been misinterpreted because the “dress coat” mentioned was a period reference to the evening tailcoat. Consequently, Lorillard’s coat would have resembled a mess jacket, not a tuxedo jacket.[6]

A much more reliable account of the jacket’s American debut is one provided by Grenville Kane, one of the original founders of Tuxedo Park. His explanation is that the club’s members began to wear the jacket in public when they would dine in public in New York City and that curious onlookers came to associate the jacket with the club’s name.[7]


Although the smoking jacket’s shawl collar was the original collar for the tuxedo jacket the peaked lapel taken from the tailcoat had become equally popular by the turn of the twentieth century. By this time the jacket was invariably a one-button single-breasted model with no vents. Trousers matched the jacket which was most commonly black although Edwardian dandies often opted for Oxford gray or a very dark blue.[8] By World War I the gray option had fallen out of favour but the ‘‘midnight blue‘‘ alternative became increasingly popular. A single stripe of braid covering the outseam on each leg was optional at first but became standard by the 1930s. At this time double-breasted jackets and white jackets became acceptable for formal evenings in hot weather.[9]

Following World War II the tuxedo began to take on traits that deviated from the strict black-and-white interpretation maintained by the black tie dress code. Color, texture and pattern became increasingly popular in warm-weather jackets to the point where Americans associated the term dinner jacket solely with these separates rather than as a general synonym for tuxedo. In the non-conformist 1970s mass-market retailers began offering colored versions of the entire suit to its rental customers.[10][11][12]

Beginning in the 1980s tuxedo jackets increasingly took on traits of the business suit such as two- and three-button styling, flap pockets and center vents. Most notably, the notch lapel had become the most common lapel style by the turn of the millennium, but is not accepted by traditionalists.[13][14]

Contemporary usage


The most popular uses of the tuxedo in North America at present are for formal weddings, formal proms and formal nights on cruises. In these circumstances the tuxedo’s styling and accessories are most commonly chosen according to the wearer’s tastes. Far less popular are black tie events such as gala fundraisers where men typically wear more traditional tuxedos and accessories as dictated by the dress code.


  1. ^ August 1889 issue of Sartorial Arts Journal according to the Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ "Terminology". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/Introduction/Intro_Instructions.htm#terminology. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  3. ^ "History: Late Victorian Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/04-Victorian_Late_Etiquette_&_DJ.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  4. ^ Flusser, Alan (2002). Dressing the Man: Mastering the art of Permanent Fashion. New York/woodford: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.. pp. 303. ISBN 0060191449. 
  5. ^ reprinted in "The Saga Of American Society A Record Of Social Aspiration 1607-1937". 1937. http://www.archive.org/details/sagaofamericanso008728mbp. 
  6. ^ "History: Late Victorian Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/04-Victorian_Late_Etiquette_&_DJ.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  7. ^ As related in a 1929 conversation with colleague J. Earle Stevens, Jr. who later recounted in the conversation in an essay originally posted online by the Tuxedo Park archives and now available at "Citizen Arcane". http://www.citizenarcane.com/index.php/archives/2005/05/23/. 
  8. ^ "History: Edwardian Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/06-Edwardian.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  9. ^ "History: Depression Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/08-Depression_Era.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  10. ^ "History: Postwar Period". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/09-Post_War.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  11. ^ "History: Jet Age". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/10-Jet_Age.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  12. ^ "History: Counterculture Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/11-Counterculture.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  13. ^ "History: Yuppie Years". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/13-Yuppie_Pt2.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  14. ^ "History: Millennial Era". Black Tie Guide. http://www.blacktieguide.com/History/14-Millennium.htm. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • tuxedo — man s evening dress for semiformal occasions, 1889, named for Tuxedo Park, N.Y., site of a country club where it first was worn in 1886. The name is an attractive subject for elaborate speculation, e.g.: The Wolf tribe in New York was called in… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Tuxedo — Tux*e do, Tuxedo coat Tux*e do coat , n. 1. A kind of black jacket for semiformal evening dress made without tails, usually of black or dark blue color and having satin or grosgrain facing on the lapels; so named after a fashionable country club… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tuxedo — ☆ tuxedo [tuk sē′dō ] n. pl. tuxedos [after the name of a country club at Tuxedo Park, near Tuxedo Lake, N.Y.] 1. Now Rare a man s semiformal jacket for evening wear, orig. black and with satin lapels; dinner jacket 2. a suit of such a jacket and …   English World dictionary

  • tuxedo — ► NOUN (pl. tuxedos or tuxedoes) chiefly N. Amer. 1) a man s dinner jacket. 2) a formal evening suit including such a jacket. DERIVATIVES tuxedoed adjective. ORIGIN from Tuxedo Park, the site of a country club in New York …   English terms dictionary

  • tuxedo — [tʌkˈsiːdəʊ] or tux [tʌks] noun [C] a dinner jacket …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • Tuxedo — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Le terme Tuxedo peut faire référence à: Tuxedo un type de smoking Tuxedo, un logiciel informatique Tuxedo, une circonscription électorale du Manitoba… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Tuxedo — La palabra Tuxedo puede referirse a: La población de Tuxedo Park, en el estado de New Jersey (EEUU). Tuxedo, la denominación que recibe el esmoquin en slang. Tuxedo Junction, un tema de jazz. Tuxedo, el acrónimo de un programa informático. Tuxido …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tuxedo —    A man attending a formal affair today may wear a tuxedo and a black tie or a full dress coat and a white tie. At one time, however, only the latter style was acceptable; the tailless formal jacket was unknown until the 1800s.    The Algonquian …   Dictionary of eponyms

  • tuxedo — /tʌkˈsidoʊ / (say tuk seedoh) noun (plural tuxedos) 1. a dinner jacket. 2. Also, tuxedo suit. a men s formal suit comprising such a jacket, sometimes including vest, cummerbund, bow tie and shirt; dinner suit. {shortened form of Tuxedo coat,… …   Australian English dictionary

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