Fashion always goes in circles and then ends up finding a blend of everything. At Apparel99, we have you covered no matter what part of history you prefer to live in – whether it be the tailcoat era of the 1920’s or the dark-colored tux era of the 21st century.
To a man, the suit is the symbol of style and power and has been the pinnacle of men’s fashion for over 150 years. While suits have never faded away from the fashion spotlight, nor do they show any sign of fading, they have evolved quite a bit over their long history. In this article, we would like to take you through a brief version of the glittering and hilarious history of what has become the mainstay of men’s fashion.
Suits were originally designed to enhance the masculine physiques of military men; the silhouette of a suit jacket, even today, still reflects its military origins. In the 19th century, this fashion statement showed up among military personnel, and in its purest and previous form, it had frocks and tails.
I am sure you have wondered why the initial suits had tails? We often have the pleasure of answering that question, and it’s an interesting answer as well. In its initial form, suits were basically long form coats, and then after a while, the front was cut off, leaving only the back, which was later referred to as “the tails.” Over time, the tails evolved to take some more stylish shapes (especially with the rounding off of the corners) and some even began to look like actual tails. Traditionally, tailcoats were worn with white ties.
This modification of the coat was done to make it easy to ride horses. Since horses were the primary mode of transportation for soldiers in the 19th century, they couldn’t have the front of their coats interfering with their riding duties. After pushing it aside for so long, they decided to get rid of it, and a new fashion was born! It didn't take long for the fashion to catch on with the civilians and fashion houses.
The birth of the tuxedo
As you may have noticed from the picture of the tuxedo and the tailcoat above, the tuxedo is basically a tailcoat missing its tails. Stuff like this just makes you want to believe in Darwin’s theory even more! So, basically, the tailcoats evolved, thereby moving into a new century without their tails.
Okay. This is what actually happened. There are two major historical viewpoints of how it originally started. The first credits Henry Poole & Co. for creating the first version of the tailless suit for the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII, to wear as a traditional “white tie” alternative. This first account says that Prince Edward, while donning this tailless coat, caught the eye of Pierre Lorillard, a wealthy American.
The second account says that Pierre Lorillard had just asked for a custom-made tailless coat as the tails in his opinion interfered with his sitting and dancing.
Whatever account you choose to believe, both converge on what happened after Mr. Lorillard first donned the tailless coat - the birth of the name “tuxedo.”
Now, the Lorillard’s were an influential, New York family who owned Tuxedo Park, a holiday resort and exclusive residential enclave. They also owned the Tuxedo Club where they held their first autumn ball in 1866. The ball saw members of the Lorillard family don the new British jacket design and the name “tuxedo” naturally stuck on the revolutionary, or should I say “evolutionary,” replacement for traditional tails.
What happened to all the buttons?
In its original state, suits were often made with at least six buttons along the front, and older conservative men wore a six-button or four-button waistcoat inside a suit. However, before the formal birth of the tuxedo, trends had already changed and no one closed all buttons on their suits. This trend started in hilarious fashion.
King Edward VII started this trend out of pure necessity as his rotund nature didn’t let him close the last button of his coats. Most people who were loyal to him followed suit so as not to offend the king. This trend was soon reflected in British fashion as these coats started losing buttons, going down from six buttons to three. This was naturally passed on to the tuxedo when it was finally born in 1866. It is not strange to see a one-button tux in our day.
Since the birth of the tux, it has seen a few modifications based on era or personality.
Cultural effect on the tuxedo
With the age of pop culture, skinny fits came into fashion in the later 60’s and early 70’s. Style icons like the Beatles popularized a drainpipe trouser that was cut short at the ankles and a round neck replacing traditional shirt and ties. The later 70’s saw much more rebellion and hedonism in culture rub off on fashion. We saw tuxedos in more exuberant colors. Loud colors, patterns and embroidery were introduced by many to make an individualistic statement.
In our modern culture, we seem to have a blend of all these historical modifications for different occasions, but the overall preferred wear for men’s formal wear is the black on black tux. Colors like charcoal grey, navy blue, royal blue, sky blue and even white tuxedos have also staked a firm claim amongst formal men’s wear. For modern men, this new trend also sports a skinny trouser cut off at the ankles, which is a rich statement of responsibility and a reflection of history.
Whichever side of history you prefer to live on, we have you
covered at Apparel99, from our trendy tux and tails or tuxedo tails to the modern slim-fitting all black tux and everything in between. We can give you an unquestionably fashionable appearance and for half the price too!
Almost two decades ago, we launched with the mission to give everyone access to high-quality formal apparel at the lowest prices possible, every day of the year. We intend to keep doing that, so if it's more than $99, you won’t find it here!
Go on and check out our stock of men's tuxedos here!