The smoking jacket originated as an evening coat to be worn for lounging around in your home. Years later it is now also used to substitute in a black-tie situation on top of the loungewear at home. The coat itself was long and gradually its length has shortened as well.
History of the smoking jacket
During the early 17th century, men wore “robe de chambres” to protect their clothing from the smell of tobacco and smoke as they didn’t actually own many different clothes. Most were made of silk and only seen in the privacy of one’s own home. As time went on the robes became in-season and people started taking pictures seen by all with their smoking jackets.
During the 1600s people could rent the robes. Although still worn and seen mostly by the families, the length of the robe which originally was long to the ankles shortened to mid-thigh length. Still designed to create a barrier between smoking smell and other smells the coat became stylish.
Enter the 1850s where many men would retreat to smoke a cigar after dinner to discuss business while the ladies went to the parlour.
The smoking jacket once again evolved in style by adding different closing mechanisms and different styles and versions of the smoking jacket. From the 1950s, the smoking jacket started to be seen outside of the house to be worn at events such as dinners and parties.
Of note, most of the jackets worn were bespoke. How most men wore them varied as the years went by but most paired with bow ties and formal trousers with patent leather shoes. At nighttime, the smoking jackets were worn with their favourite pyjamas and slippers. Also, the bespoke smoking jackets made to order were in specific patterns and designs. As the years went on men’s dress changed as well as the requirements.
According to Cecil B. Bradley’s ruminations on how the gentlemen were to dress in the evening was with taste and less, plus size and length that befits the height of the man. Included was his recommendations on the proper evening dress for the man the type of jacket is it smoking or dinner jacket. The whole thing behind the book was one man’s opinion on polite society.
One of the interesting pieces of information to note is the following that the wearer of smoking costs should be dressed appropriately as to not offend others around by poor clothes choices- which means what? It means that smoking jackets must follow the same guidelines for dress. To neither be loud nor offensive. But I am sure that invention of the paisley smoking jacket knocked some people in the 1960s off their rocker.
He recommended personal cleanliness including keeping a fastidious appearance down to clean gloves with no holes was important. The appearance was and is as important then as is now to people who are involved in public life. Tailors probably helped add designer touches to the fabric of the smoking jacket. Plus, it couldn’t get too dirty or form because you couldn’t wear it. The further you read you you begin to learn about how different coats mean different things, what is better to wear when and for what special occasion.
Playboy’s Hugh Hefner made it kosher. The jackets were worn by celebrities at events in places such as Las Vegas, along with a black bow tie.
The smoking jacket which started like a house jacket, eventually became loungewear to dinner wear time to formal attire wear that the gentlemen wore to go out on business events. Traditionally, the smoking jacket is made of silk, velvet, jacquard cloth; sometimes a combination of all three. The fastener is normally toggle or button with a label in a certain shape and a turned back cuff. Some had hidden pockets for the cigars as well as big room builds to keep the body comfortable.
If you were to purchase a smoking jacket today it would cost you depending on where you buy it from $500-$700. Some of the current jackets have a skull&crossbones theme with a peacock on it. Sounds like a fun theme doesn’t it? When you buy your jacket you are looking for a couple of items: 1. How many events am I attending? 2. What kind of jacket do I want? 3. What kind of colours? And 4. What size am I?. Then get yourself measured to alter your size until it fits. Be aware that custom prices or bespoke prices can run into the $1000s. Add to the price of your jacket shoes, shirts, and cummerbands.
Also, check to find a tuxedo housing or dry cleaners to store your suit at as well as look into buying versus renting depending on your monetary situation. If you are interested in buying just look around at the plethora of information available on the internet. Many advertise lovely to share their favourite smoking jackets, sales and accessories. If you are lucky, some even have the actual ones worn by Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Hugh Hefner. Although they may not be for sale. You can buy in the USA and UK. You can also buy on eBay, Etsy, Amazon and other websites as well.
What the websites don’t offer are bespoke pieces. You will have a nice smoking jacket, but not a totally made for You piece. A bespoke smoking jacket is tailored just for you and does cost a bit more. In the beginning, the jackets that came over were probably more bespoke than mass-made. Then as demand grew bespoke was only available to those Who could afford it-namely the rich and famous. Do you think the actors who made wearing the smoking jacket famous, thought of that? I doubt it. Some thought it comfortable and others thought of it as a prop.
Rewind to 1800s when first coats came along with precious trinkets, smokes and other foreign goods, do you think they foresaw what people would use it for -no. The smoking jacket has become more than an intricate art of civilized society. Fast forward 1900s the house parties and the formal dinners, marriages, balls etc., all may have had a smoking jacket debut there but I think it was more than the men liked the comfort it gave them and protection it gave their clothes. Plus it looked good.
But despite the actors guild making it more acceptable a lot of people still didn’t buy it without an event. One can say that it hasn’t changed the need for an event to buy the jacket. Just where you buy it from as well as who you buy it from. So from the makers of the smoking jacket to buy one!
Styles and features
There are different types of smoking jackets available. The classic smoking jacket is a mid-thigh length jacket made off velvet with its cuffs turned up with a tie belt tipped with tassels. This one has three pockets. They say velvet offers the best protection of smelling not like cigar smoke. Colours run burgundy, dark green, navy blue to black. Other colours and patterns offered.
Colours such as red, royal blue, yellow and purple with patterns of paisley, checks, diamonds and geometric patterns. Dinner smoking jackets are smaller and usually have a button or toggle. Wear the sash jacket for home. Make sure whatever jacket you wear it is the appropriate style jacket for the occasion. For instance, don’t wear a lounge jacket for dinner.
Where do you find smoking jackets today?
You can find a smoking jacking in the stores but there are tons available online. The prices run from $500-$700 okay one online store whereas another store sells a different smoking jacket for close to $1000.00. In this century, there are new designs. It’s also balanced out with polka dots and the always time-consuming jigsaw puzzle designs.
For evening wear some of the jackets are beaded. A lot of smoking jackets are made of silk and some don’t have vents to prevent the smoke from seeping into your clothes. Funnily enough, even women are buying into wearing smoking jackets. As previously stated, you can wear for semi-formal dinners, most black tie events, and optional or creative black-tie event.
How should a smoking jacket fit?
Your jacket should fit like your dinner jacket or your tuxedo suit jacket. If you are wearing the smoking jacket that is the robe it is made to be roomier so it will fit will be looser. Also, you might want to check the length of the sleeves and make sure you are comfortable.
But that isn’t the only part of the fit. The clothes you wear with the jacket make the whole thing look marvellous. For instance, the black pants from your suit paired with the robe or the smoking jacket that is for dinner with tuxedo pants. You get the idea right? Also, make sure again that the colours, tie accessories fit.
When to wear smoking jackets?
Again as previously stated, you can wear to semi-formal dinners both at your house or a friend’s house. You can wear to most events stated to be black tie. Don’t forget you can also wear smoking jackets for any optional black tie or creative black-tie event as well. Consider that now both men and women can gleam like jewels at a black-tie event.
You can wear your smoking jacket out to most black-tie events as stated, as long as it’s the dinner jacket. Keep one handy in your office. It transitions well to date night too inside your house. Pair with smoking slippers for the robe, dress shoes for the dinner jacket and voila: date night with the wife/award dinner for work.
FAQ – Smoking Jackets
The classic smoking jacket is a mid-thigh length jacket made off velvet with its cuffs turned up with a tie belt tipped with tassels.
Your jacket should fit like your dinner jacket or your tuxedo suit jacket. If you are wearing the smoking jacket that is the robe it is made to be roomier so it will fit will be looser.
You can find a smoking jackets online in many different models. The prices run from $500-$700 to $1000.00 depending on quality and brand. On Amazon you find the largest selection of traditional smoking jackets online.