Diving deep into men’s outerwear, we discover several classy staples that often have a rich history behind them. Smoking Jackets are one among them. Defining luxury and absolute comfort, the smoking jacket has come a long way to become a clothing item for semi-formal attire. This blog will explain what a smoking jacket is and how its different iterations came onto the fashion scene.
A smoking jacket is one of those staples which portrays a refined taste (and even wealth). Again, the reason for this is how it originated and evolved as a garment worn by wealthy men in the evening after work. Read on to know about the history, types, and contemporary styles of the smoking jacket.
What is a Smoking Jacket?
The Gentlemen’s Magazine, a popular publication back in the day, defines the smoking jacket in one of its 1850 issues. It stated that the smoking jacket is a kind of short robe de Chambre, of velvet, cashmere, plush, merino, or printed flannel, lined with bright colors, ornamented with Brandenburg, olives, or large buttons.
The Smoking jacket is a loosely structured jacket, which closely resembles a robe, but is cut like a lounge jacket. Its fit is usually more relaxed than the blazer or a suit jacket. When it originated, it was made of velvet with a quilted shawl collar, buttons, and a tie belt for fastening at the waist. The length of the jacket is a bit longer than a tuxedo jacket or a suit jacket. It is usually of mid-thigh length.
Not just velvet, the smoking jacket can be made of silk and satin as well. The collar and cuffs may be quilted in a contrasting color or plain, made with either satin or silk. Fastening at the waist is a significant feature of this jacket, which varies in the form of buttons, toggles, frogs, or tie belts. A smoking jacket is definitely a step up from the robe and is way more stylish than a housecoat.
But Why the Name Smoking Jacket?
Smoking jackets were intended to be worn over usual clothes but they had an additional purpose other than style. Men wore it while smoking so that they could be protected from smoke and stains. All the smell would be taken on by the outer garment instead, and the fabric of the clothes underneath (which used to be quite expensive back then) wouldn’t be spoiled.
It is important to state that velvet is by far the best in absorbing the strong tobacco smell, and jackets made with silk or satin do not provide the same level of absorption.
Another function that these jackets served was to keep the wearer warm, as residences lacked heating and proper insulation in that era.
Smoking Jacket History
Back in the mid-1800s, tobacco consumption was quite common. After returning from work, men used to smoke pipes and cigars, and its strong odor got absorbed in clothing and upholstery. Not only the smell but clothes were also vulnerable to tobacco stains, falling ash, and burns. The worry to protect the expensive fabrics gave birth to the smoking jacket in 1850.
When they first originated, these jackets were used by affluent men mostly and were considered way too casual to be worn outside the house. In 1865, the Prince of Wales Edward VII made the smoking jacket popular by ordering his Henry Poole and Co. tailors to design a blue silk jacket that he could wear to stay comfortable.
Many decades later, the smoking jacket trend resurfaced, thanks to icons like Frank Sinatra, Dean Marin, and Cary Grant, who used to wear it. Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner is also credited for bringing this jacket into the spotlight.
Fast forward to this day; the smoking jacket is now considered a black-tie optional appropriate garment, with all leading fashion houses selling it as a high fashion piece.
Vintage Smoking Jackets
If you have a knack for retro-style clothes and collect and wear items like vintage leather jackets and classic bags, you must add a vintage-style smoking jacket to your collection. When buying a vintage jacket with the authentic style, make sure it doesn’t have a lingering smell, burn marks, or stains that seem stubborn. Most vintage smoking jackets will come in premium quality velvet or brocade with a sash and quilted collars.
Victorian Smoking Jackets
A heavy wool or merino smoking jacket with traditional black shawl lapels is a Victorian-style jacket. The Victorian smoking jacket is mostly knee length with a tie belt or frog fastening.
Edwardian Smoking jackets
Your Edwardian wardrobe cannot be complete without a silk smoking jacket with short shawl lapels. It resembles the tuxedo jacket and is appropriate for semi-formal wear. It usually has three buttons, so apply the usual suit button fastening rules when you wear it.
Japanese Smoking Jackets
Resembling the dressing robe, the Japanese smoking jacket is made with bright colored, printed satin silk and has a tie belt fastening. The Japanese smoking jackets fall into the informal category, so you could use one for the function for which it originated.
Style of Smoking Jackets
As stated above, contemporary smoking jackets are made with different materials and differ in style due to collars, cuffs, fit and fastening. The three most popular types of smoking jackets are:
Velvet Smoking Jackets
Authentic and luxurious, velvet smoking jackets offer an unmatched casual elegance. They usually have quilted satin collar lapels, but ones with plain satin collars and cuffs are also not uncommon. The plush feel of velvet makes it a very comfortable garment to be worn at home in the evening.
Silk Smokers Jackets
Smoking jackets made with silk give the wearer a majestic look, more so if the lapels are in a bright color. Hugh Hefner’s signature smoking jackets used to be silk ones, which is one of the reasons why this material gained popularity. If we talk about its functionality for tobacco smell absorption, it is definitely not up to the level of velvet but still does a fair job.
Satin Smoking Jackets
Another luxury fabric that is used to make smoking jackets is satin. Satin has a fine luster which gives the smoking jacket an opulent feel, and its smoothness makes the jacket highly comfortable to wear.
Both satin and silk smoking jackets can be plain or printed.
Modern Smoking Jackets
If we talk about the modern iterations of the smoking jacket, almost all of them are shorter and more structured, which is why they are deemed appropriate for semi-formal or cocktail attire. As they are no longer used for practical purposes, manufacturers give much attention to their aesthetics. You can wear them on occasions that call for dressier attire, maybe in place of a blazer or even your dinner jacket.
Types Of Smoking Jackets
If a smoking jacket suits your personal style, here are some types of smoking jackets that you could lay your hands on.
Quilted Smoking Jackets
We have talked about quilted lapels of the smoking jackets, but you will be amazed to find jackets completely crafted with quilted satin. The material used for the jacket is in a contrasting color with the lapels, giving it an appealing look.
As the name tells us, these types of jackets are intended for when you are smoking a cigar. On the exterior, these jackets have three pockets, one long enough to hold a cigar. In some designs, there are pockets where you can easily place a lighter or a pack of cigarettes.
Smoking Jacket Robes
Reaching the mid-thigh and even lower, the jacket robe is crafted with comfortable and fancy fabrics, featuring a quilted collar for added comfort and warmth.
This type of jacket has the typical features of a smoking jacket like the shawl lapels and fastening. But it mimics the shape and structure of a blazer. The fit depends on whether you are buying it off the rack or custom-made. We recommend a customized one as it will definitely fit you better. You can create business casual outfits with the smoking blazer & jeans.
How to Wear a Smoking Jacket
The smoking jacket may seem like a unique attire and not appropriate to be added to a capsule wardrobe. However, if you are want to give it a try, here are some stylish suggestions for you.
Embroidered Smoking Jackets
Get your hands on an extravagantly embroidered smoking jacket. Wear it to a wedding paired with black trousers and black oxford shoes. You will surely turn heads your way with this unique and uber-stylish outfit.
Red and Black Smoking Jackets
Pair a classic white oxford shirt with a red and black brocade smoking jacket. For bottoms, choose black crisp trousers for a well-dressed look. Elevate the look with a black bow tie.
Plaid Smoking Jackets
Plaid gives you retro vibes, and men who love retro style must go for a plaid smoking jacket. It is even better if you match the plaid jacket with plaid pants for a consistent look. That will definitely add to the elegance of the outfit.
Double Breasted Smoking Jackets
If you have a plain black double-breasted smoking jacket, you have an opportunity to rock the Scandinavian look. Minimalism and monochromatic style is the crux of Scandinavian men. Team up a black shirt and slim-fit black jeans with the black jacket. Round off the look with black double monk straps.
What is the Purpose of a Smoking Jacket?
The earliest jackets were worn by rich men who wanted to save their clothing from tobacco smoke. Wearing the jacket while smoking cigars and pipes shielded the clothes underneath from burns, falling ash, and cigarette stains.
Do Smoking Jackets Work?
The fabric of the smoking jacket masked the tobacco smell very well, proving why it was such a popular garment. They also provide warmth as there were no appropriate means for insulation in even rich homes.
Besides function, smoking jackets give a break from the popular types of jackets for men. If they fit right, they look very stylish.
Although created purely for function, smoking jackets have made their place in contemporary fashion, and that too in dressier styles. Concluding the smoking jacket guide, we would love to have your opinion. Tell us whether you think the resurging trend of these jackets is a yay or nay.