Home / Did you know? / History of the Tuxedo

History of the Tuxedo

History of the Tuxedo

Tailcoat Tuxedo Jacket

The tuxedo is a standard in American formal attire and is a ubiquitous symbol of celebration and special occasion for men of any and all levels of society.

It is the quintessential men’s attire for formal affairs and an obvious choice for all but the most formal of weddings, galas, balls, formals, and high school proms. Nothing says tradition and elegance like the tuxedo.

The earliest references to a dress coat substitute in America are from the summer and fall of 1886 and, like the British references from this time, vary between waist-length mess-jacket style and the conventional suit jacket style. The most famous reference originates from Tuxedo Park, an upstate New York countryside enclave for Manhattan’s wealthiest citizens. A son of one of the community’s founders, Griswold Lorillard, and his friends were widely reported in society columns for showing up at the club’s first Autumn Ball in October 1886 wearing “a tailless dress coat”. Although it is not known whether this garment was a mess jacket or a conventional dinner jacket, it no doubt cemented the tailcoat substitute’s association with Tuxedo Park in the mind of the public.

Period newspaper accounts indicate that at first the jacket was worn by young mavericks to gatherings considered strictly formal. This led the American establishment to reject it out of hand. It was only by 1888 that polite society accepted its role solely as a summer and informal evening substitute at which point it became very popular and it’s place in modern culture was sealed.