What’s the difference between a Dinner Jacket and a Tuxedo?

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I honestly didn’t really know the difference between dinner jacket and tuxedo events. Dinner jackets and tuxedos both usually look the same to me, and I’m not the only who thinks that way.

Until I wrote this post.

Contrary to popular belief, they are not the same. Read on to learn some key differences between a dinner jacket and a tuxedo.

Dinner jacket or tuxedo - what's the difference?

Difference Between Dinner Jacket and Tuxedo

The key difference between a dinner jacket and a tuxedo is that the tuxedo refers to the entire ensemble.

The tuxedo includes a matching black jacket, and trousers with a satin trim on the lapel. The satin trim can sometimes also be on the sides of the trouser.

The tuxedo is considered the formal attire for men for any black tie event. It can also be used for both weddings and formal events.

The dinner jacket however, can be worn in other social events, including black tie events. Dinner jackets are usually different colors with a trimmed satin on the lapel. They almost always have a single functioning button which represents more formal dinner jackets.

There are two button dinner jackets as well which are usually white or black. They are usually considered less formal and more social. Dinner jackets can also be deep blue, purple, red, etc. They can also be checkered if they are more extravagant. Hence, you can wear any depending on the different events you attend.

So in closing, the real difference between a tuxedo and a dinner jacket is the event you’re going to. More formal and business events require that you wear a tuxedo. Think of the tuxedo that Jackie Chan wore in the eponymous film. However, dinner jackets can be worn on more social functions and affairs.

Consider the dinner jacket that Daniel Craig’s James Bond wore in Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig Dinner Jacket

History of the Dinner Jacket

The dinner jacket debuted in the 1880s for the first time. It was considered a more informal dress for the time. It was considered a dress to be worn in the evening time (hence dinner jacket). Polite society was expected to change into the evening dress before dining.

This trend became more pronounced during the Victorian Era and followed through to the Edwardian era. While the 1920s to the 1960s were mostly dominated by tuxedos, the 1970s brought in some color. The dinner jacket became a more lively way to express your personality. You could wear a deep blue or red or any different color you wanted. There were also checkered jackets that you could get.

Even James Bond, the man’s man would wear dinner jackets from time to time.

Today the dinner jacket is more or less considered another version of the tuxedo. However, it is considered more colorful in some respects. They are usually made of silk or velvet. They can also include other materials like wool. It’s all in the spirit of making the dinner jacket more luxurious. Other materials for the dinner jacket include mohair mix, silk, wool, velvet, etc.

History of the Dinner Jacket

History of the Tuxedo

The tuxedo is actually an innovation on the British dinner jacket. It burst on to the scene through the wardrobe of millionaire James Brown Potter. He and his wife, Cora, were introduced to the tuxedo through the Prince of Wales. During a trip to Britain, they acquired new threads and came to America to show it off. At the Autumn Ball of a private club in Tuxedo Park, he first showed off his impressive dress. Here, the jacket took on the name, Tuxedo.

The spread of the Tuxedo to the rest of the country and then to the entire world is steeped in folklore. It has a lot of conflicting stories. During the late 1920s when the country and the rest of the world was steeped in economic recession, the tuxedo disappeared. However, that was only temporary since black tie events came back in the 1930s. The evening wear was back and the midnight blue tuxedo became the rage.

Tuxedo history

Effectively, as demand grew, so did supply. And so, the double breasted tuxedo jacket variant became more popular. It was first considered too informal, but now it came to be known as formal wear.

By the 1940s, the tuxedo had come to be recognized as more occasional. The suit had become the formal wear for most businessmen and working middle class men. Hence, the tuxedo became a dress that you could wear to formal dinners. Hence, it returned to its former place. By World War II, this trend had completely set in. The tuxedo was now to be worn for only the most prestigious events. Even small parties and social affairs could do with suits. Tuxedos were to be for events like balls and galas and royal dances.

By the 1950s, the tuxedo returned for a little while. Well in to the 1960s, the tuxedo was again adopted as a more conventional formal and social wear option. Inspired by the space age, it took on the white color instead of the traditional black. White tie events have been completely abandoned, and the white or black tuxedo was the norm.

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