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The History of Men's Tuxedos and Male Formal Wear

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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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.

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History of Clothing

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