Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tailcoat vs. Tuxedo

The best thing for a man to wear to a Nineteenth Century ball is a tailcoat. Often, a new dancer will say he plans to wear a tux. This is where we all gasp and rush to explain that a tailcoat is the most formal level of dress, but a tuxedo is informal. In other words, a tailcoat is what you wear when you dance with women in ball gowns and a tuxedo is what you wear when you eat supper at your club with the guys.

Also, the tuxedo only develops in the late Nineteenth Century, so it's not even an option for much of the dancing that we recreate.

This is a tailcoat, also called a dress coat:

Tailcoat detail from American Fashions December 1890

This is a tuxedo:

Tuxedo detail from 1920s fashion plate

Here is a fashion plate from 1899 that includes a woman in a ball gown to provide context for the men in tailcoats.

American Fashions August 1899

Pop quiz! Which one of these men is ready to go to a formal ball?

1904 illustration

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