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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Your Tuxedo Formal Wear Glossary

There are two theories about the first tuxedo. The tuxedo was invented by Pierre Lorillard IV of New York City according to one school of thought. However, some historians believe that the tuxedo was invented by King Edward VII.

Pierre Lorillard

Pierre Lorillard's family were wealthy tobacco magnates who owned country property in Tuxedo Park, just outside of New York City. At a formal ball, held at the Tuxedo Club in October 1886, the young Lorillard wore a new style of formal wear for men that he designed himself. He named his tailless black jacket the tuxedo after Tuxedo Park. The tuxedo caught on and became fashionable as formal wear for men.

British Origins

According to English clothing historian James Laver, the idea of wearing black for evening wear was first introduced by the nineteenth century British writer, Edward Bulwer-Lyttonn who wrote in 1828 that "people must be very distinguished to look well in black."

A resident of Tuxedo Park, James Brown Potter vacationed in England in the summer of 1886. Potter and his wife, Cora were introduced to the Prince of Wales {who later became King Edward VII} at a court ball in London. Potter asked the Prince for advice on formal dress. The Prince sent Potter to his own Saville Row tailor, Henry Poole & Co. Potter was fitted with a short black jacket and black tie that was unlike the formal tails with white tie that was worn in the United States for formal occassions.

The new tailless formal wear was said to have been designed by the Prince of Wales. The Prince and his tailor drew inspiration from the British military uniforms of the time, which used short jackets with black ties. This is where the two origins meet. James Brown Potter took the design back to the Tuxedo Club, where Pierre Lorillard modified it, named it, and made it popular during the Autumn ball.

Take a look at the types of terms that have come about over the years related to tuxedo formal wear.

Ascot: Accessory; a wide scarf or necktie knotted so that its broad ends are laid flat upon each other. Often pinned together with a pearl stickpin and usually worn with a cutaway tuxedo. Today all ascots are banded for ease of use.

Band Bowtie: Accessory; a bowtie with an adjustable band that wraps around the collar of the shirt and connects with a clasp. All rental bowties are now banded. Ê

Banded Collar: A formal shirt, with banded collar only, no wing-like appendages. Worn with fancy button covers. Usually features a wide pleated front. Also referred to as "mandarin collar."

Besom Pocket: On a coat, a very narrow piping above the pocket slit. Can be satin besom or self (same fabric as coat) besom, with flap.

Button Cover: Ornamental accessory device worn at the neck of the shirt, clipping onto the button of the collar. Available in many styles. Usually worn with a mandarin or crosswick collar shirt.

Button Stance: On a coat, the position where the coat first buttons on the chest. Usually defined as a standard, low, or high button stance.

Collar: On a coat, the turned back material that falls around the back of the neck. Can be of satin or same material as the coat.

Comfort Collar: On a formal shirt, a manufacturing feature that allows for more comfort at the neck of the shirt. The button of the collar is attached to a small tab that slides, giving more range in movement.

Crosswick Shirt: A very modern formal shirt with a crossover spread collar. Features a wide pleated front. Usually worn with a fancy button cover; a tie cannot be worn with this shirt.

Cuff Links: Ornamental accessory device of two parts joined by a shank, chain, or bar for passing through buttonholes to fasten shirt cuffs.

Cummerbund: Accessory; a broad sash worn over the waistband of the pants. Pleats are worn with the opening facing up.

Cutaway: A formal coat also known as the morning suit. Usually a dark grey coat worn traditionally in the morning for weddings. Now can be worn anytime during the day.

Double Besom Pocket: On formal coats, two narrow pipings in satin or self material above and below the slit, without flap.

Double Breasted: A tuxedo coat which overlaps itself in the front. Often adorned with four or six buttons.

Double Breasted Vest: A vest which overlaps itself in the front. Often adorned with four or six buttons.

Euroband Tie: Accessory; a fashion tie, much like a 4-in-hand necktie with an overstated knot. Available in many colors, worn with a high cut vest.

Flap Pocket: On a coat, a standard pocket. Common on traditional coat styles.

Floor Level Peak Lapel: On a coat, a type of peak lapel in which the peak, rather than pointing upward, runs parallel to the floor.

Formal Shoes: Patent leather or vinyl shoes with a glossy finish. Today's selection offers a variety of styles featuring insets and textured materials.

4-In-Hand Tie (Necktie): Accessory; a necktie fastened with a slipknot, a man's regular necktie. Usually worn with a stroller coat.

French Cuff: A wide shirt cuff folded back and fastened with a cufflink. Found on 100% cotton retail shirts.

Full Back Vest: Accessory; a vest which has a full back panel sewn in.

Full Dress Tails: A coat also known as the tailcoat, being short in the front and long in the back. Very formal. Once available only in black, now available in all colors.

Gorge: On a coat, where the lapels start and the collar ends. A very low gorge is down the middle of the chest.

High Cut Vest: A vest which has more buttons on the front, causing it to close higher and closer to the collar. Worn with a bowtie, euroband 4-in-hand tie, or button covers.

Lapel: On a coat, the turned back material that falls around the front of the coat. Can be of satin or the same material as the coat.

Laydown Collar: A shirt similar to most men's dress shirts, a regular fold over style collar. Usually with pleats.

Mandarin Collar: A formal shirt, with banded collar only, no wing-like appendages. Worn with fancy button covers. Usually features a wide pleated front.

Notch Lapel: On a coat, a notch is cut out between the collar and the lapel.

Peak Lapel: On a coat, the top of the lapel is pointed sharply upward and outward.

Pique Shirt: A white shirt with a waffle-like texture on the front panel and cuffs. Worn with matching vest and tie. Most formal.

Pique Vest: A white vest with a waffle-like texture. The most traditional vest; often worn with white tie and tails.

Shawl Collar: On a coat, there is no change from the collar to the lapel; it is a rounding continuation of the collar.

Spats: Short formal fabric shoe coverings worn over the instep and reaching just above the ankle, usually fastened by a strap under the foot and buttons on one side. Once used to protect shoes from mud, now a high-fashion accessory.

Stroller: Matching tuxedo length coat to the cutaway. Worn with contrasting striped trousers, pearl vest, laydown collar shirt, and 4-in-hand tie.

Studs: Accessories; small ornamental buttons mounted on short posts for insertion through an eyelet next to the shirt button.

Tuxedo: Specifically used to refer to a standard length coat, single or double breasted with satin lapels. Generally used to refer to all men's formalwear.

Vents: On a coat, an opening in the lower part of a seam; a slit in the garment. Tuxedo types: center vent, non-vented, side vented.

Waist Coat: A coat also known as the Spencer or Eton. Resembles a full dress without tails. Worn with matching or contrasting trousers.

Wing Collar: Also known as stand up collar. A formal shirt, usually with a pleated front that has wing-like pointed appendages.

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