The Sartorial Art Journal Fashion Plates: Summer Formal Wear

Posted on June 19, 2014

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1910-07_SAJ_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art

In the second half of our review of the Costume Institute’s incredible collection of digitized Sartorial Art Journal fashion plates, we look at the eveningwear illustrations that supplemented various summer issues.  While evening tailcoats were regularly featured in November and December plates, they were very rarely worn in the hot summer months.  Thus, the only evening wear featured in June and July plates was the newly invented – and much less formal – dinner jacket.

The description accompanying one such illustration in 1901 neatly encapsulates the jacket’s early status.  Referring to the depicted garb as “Summer Dress Negligee Costumes”, the magazine reported that such kits had become more acceptable for formal occasions and were grudgingly acknowledged to be allowable for “stag parties, at the theatre and even at dinner parties and dances in summer resorts except when these are of the most formal character.”

It is the latter use of the jacket that is featured in all of the following illustrations, reinforcing my recent discovery of how closely Americans associated the early dinner jacket with summertime attire.

Some details to note about the turn-of-the-century tuxedo:

  • the jacket was originally an informal replacement for the tailcoat which meant it was worn with the standard tailcoat accompaniments of the time including either black or white bow ties and waistcoats
  • there was some early experimentation with all-white dinner suits that sometimes even included white socks and white formal shoes
  • evenings at yacht clubs were a common scenario for warm-weather formal attire

Click the thumbnails for versions twice as big or click the hyperlinked Costume Institute references within the picture captions for the original scans.  (Note that there are multiple copies available for some plates.)

Enjoy!

July 1890.  The dinner jacket is shown with a straw hat. 1890-1895, Plate 002

July 1890. The dinner jacket is shown with a straw hat.
1890-1895, Plate 002

July 1891.  Note the 1890s vogue for cummerbunds with informal daywear as described in a previous post. 1890-1899, Plate 015  1800s, Plate 016

July 1891. Note the 1890s vogue for cummerbunds with informal day wear as described in a previous post.
1890-1899, Plate 015
1800s, Plate 016

July 1892.  Shown with a collapsible opera hat.  Future plates all show tuxedos worn without hats. 1890-1895, Plate 030  1890-1899, Plate 009

July 1892. Shown with a collapsible opera hat. Future plates all show tuxedos worn without hats.
1890-1895, Plate 030
1890-1899, Plate 009

July 1894.  A fashion report in a period newspaper described this tuxedo and three-piece flannel suit as appropriate apparel for “torrid” summer weather.   1890-1899, Plate 028  1800s, Plate 026

July 1894. A fashion report in a period newspaper described this tuxedo and three-piece flannel suit as appropriate apparel for “torrid” summer weather.
1890-1899, Plate 028
1800s, Plate 026

July 1895.  (The oddly undersized centre figure makes for a bizarre sense of perspective). 1896-1899, Plate 045 (misfiled)

July 1895
1896-1899, Plate 045 (misfiled)

July 1899.  This is the first plate to feature a white dinner suit. 1896-1899, Plate 002  1894-1899, Plate 023

July 1899. The first plate to feature a white dinner suit.
1896-1899, Plate 002
1894-1899, Plate 023

June 1904.  A rare depiction of full-dress being worn in summer. 1904, Plate 008

June 1904. A rare depiction of full-dress being worn in summer.
1904, Plate 008

June 1909.    Note that the waiter is wearing full dress. 1909-1910, Plate 019

June 1909. Note that the waiter is wearing a tailcoat.
1909-1910, Plate 019

July 1910. Semi-peaked lapels were  a period trend in both dinner jackets and waistcoats. 1909-1910, Plate 031

July 1910. Semi-peaked lapels were a period trend in both dinner jackets and tailcoats.
1909-1910, Plate 031

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March 1892

If you’re interested, the Costume Institute’s fashion plate collection also includes period waistcoat styles published by Sartorial Art Journal as well as a rival magazine called The Tailors’ Review.

March 1891: 1894-1899, Plate 022 (misfiled), 1890-1899, Plate 001

March 1892: 1890-1895, Plate 016

February 1897: 1894-1899, Plate 029

February 1899: 1894-1899, Plate 033

February 1899: 1900-1901, Plate 048 (misfiled)

February 1900: 1900-1901, Plate 021

February 1900 : 1900-1901, Plate 018

August 1900: 1900-1901, Plate 020

February 1901: 1900-1901, Plate 023

February 1902: 1902-1903, Plate 027 

Posted in: History