Browsing All Posts filed under »History«

Spotlight: The Notched Lapel

March 6, 2014

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Menswear discussion boards occasionally feature lively debates about the appropriateness of a notched lapel on a dinner jacket.  Most commentators will argue that it is a modern trend imported from the common business suit and thus has no place on formal attire.  But some will inevitably counter that it is legitimized by historical precedent and […]

The Dowager vs. the Dinner Jacket: Round 3

February 3, 2014

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Season 4 of Downton Abbey is now airing on PBS and the fictional Grantham household is continuing to adapt to the social changes brought about by World War I.  For her part, the Victorian-minded Dowager Countess is still no more accepting of informal dinner jackets than previously. In episode 4, she converses with her tuxedo-clad […]

The Victorian Cummerbund

January 6, 2014

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I’ve long been intrigued by the contradictions inherent in the Victorian cummerbund.  First there’s the seeming paradox of the original garment’s use to ward off chills in the tropics.   Then there’s the contrast of an informal sash being worn with a full-dress rig.  So it was time to once again turn to online newspaper archives […]

Flashback: The Dress Shirt Protector

December 6, 2013

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According to History of Underclothes, the dress shirt protector was popular in Britain from about 1897 and consisted of “a pad of white quilted satin faced with white silk.” North American newspaper archives reveal that in the United States it was more often referred to as a full dress protector and sometimes a dress shirt shield […]

Rented Formalwear, Gilded-Age Style

November 25, 2013

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In a previous post chronicling the history of formalwear industry leader After Six, I reported that the company was often credited for pioneering the concept of rented formal wear in the 1920s.  Well, my recent investigation of digital newspaper archives reveals that the practice goes back much further. Advertisements for evening wear rentals began to […]

Tuxedo Origins: Formal Sundries

November 14, 2013

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Part seven of a series featuring newly discovered first-hand accounts of the tuxedo’s earliest appearances. We wrap up our series with various odds and ends gleamed during my research into the original dinner jackets. Comfort in Context It is not difficult to understand why Victorian men were eager for a break from the rigid full-dress uniform […]

Tuxedo Origins: Early Names

November 13, 2013

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Part six of a series featuring newly discovered first-hand accounts of the tuxedo’s earliest appearances. As is no doubt obvious by this point, there were many names for the new tailcoat substitute.  Here’s a summary of those names along with their origin dates as per my latest research: the first term used in the US was […]

Tuxedo Origins: American Backlash

November 12, 2013

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Part five of a series featuring newly discovered first-hand accounts of the tuxedo’s earliest appearances. My latest research confirmed copious previous evidence that the new jacket was appropriate only for the most informal evening occasions, quaintly summarized by one source as “the club, stag parties, the dinner at home, card parties and private billiard bouts”.  […]

Wartime White Tie

November 11, 2013

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In honour of Remembrance Day today we take a look back at World War II and the modest sacrifices made by men on the home front to support the men on the battlefield making the greatest sacrifice of all. I had previously been aware of fabric rationing in the United States during World War II […]

Tuxedo Origins: The “Tailless Dress Coat” Puzzle

November 10, 2013

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Part four of a series featuring newly discovered first-hand accounts of the tuxedo’s earliest appearances. “The tailless dress coat so much discussed was started by the tailors,” sniffed the Arizona Sentinel in November 1886.  “Whatever popularity it gained last summer will soon be forgotten [because] it is not adapted to winter use.”  The term “tailless […]

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