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What Is a Dinner Jacket & How to Wear It?

what is a dinner jacket

When we talk about the dinner jacket, what comes to mind? A tuxedo, right? There is no difference between the two. They are the same, often a satin shawl collar, with a similar stripe down the out-seam of the trousers. In the US it is known as a tuxedo and men usually wear a tuxedo to black-tie events, formal gatherings, proms, and weddings. It consists of the whole matching black ensemble (jacket + trousers).

While in the UK it is referred to as a dinner jacket which is also similarly worn for formal events. Sophisticated, dapper, and classy—are the three words that best describe this look! A dinner jacket is a statement piece that every gentlemen’s closet needs and has been the ideal choice for special occasions.

Fabrics, Colorways, and Style

Unlike ladies, men don’t have much of an option when it comes to formal clothing. It is either tails, suit, or tuxedo/ dinner jacket. The best part? This piece of clothing can be worn on multiple occasions if styled differently yet still holding that luxurious feel. Compared to a tux, dinner jackets come in multiple colors, lapels faced in silk, satin, or grosgrain, fabrics, and can include patterns– this does not apply to all formal events.

White dinner jackets, in particular, are worn mainly for formal events while on vacations, cruises, and resorts to name a few. Dinner jackets look equally classy in darker and richer shades such as midnight blue, brown, and emerald green—this is all according to one’s taste and if it is even permissible. It is preferred to wear a bow tie, paired with a suitable type of vest or cummerbund accompanying a dinner jacket.

The Perfect Pairing:

It would be a black dinner jacket, matching trousers paired with a white pleated shirt depending on the formality of the event, while a regular white dress shirt for semi-formal events and a bow tie to complete the look. A double-breasted tuxedo gives a very classic look and is especially dashing on slim men, as it makes your shoulders appear broader. A single-breasted tuxedo is the most traditional style and the perfect choice to go for if you’re buying your first tux.

From what to look for in a dinner jacket, to what type of shirt, trousers, and bow tie to wear, here is a guide on everything you need to know about this extremely à la mode fashion staple.

How to Wear a Dinner Jacket?

Even though a dinner jacket might seem easy to style, one needs to understand how to wear it and achieve that suave crisp look. There are some rules to be followed to make the black-tie ensemble  stand out:

 Types of Lapels;

  1. the notch
  2. the peak 
  3. the shawl lapel

The shawl lapel is the most common out of the three. As mentioned above, you can pick from a variety of colors, but midnight blue is the most traditional shade and is easier to style. On the other hand, a white dinner jacket is classy but can be extremely tricky to pair, but if you are willing to bring it up a notch and pull a James Bond we would suggest the jacket to have black lapels and of course, black trousers—leaving the white jacket to do all the talking.

Materials Best for Dinner Jackets: 

Many early dinner jackets were made using barathea wool, a heavier weight wool cloth while modern dinner jackets can often be wool, velvet, mohair mix, or even silk.

What Radiates Your Dinner Jacket? 

  • Trousers: Dark, gradual, and matching your jacket—these are the three things you need to keep in mind when selecting the right trousers. 
  • Shirt: Go for a well-fitting dress shirt, one that’s traditionally pleated and with a winged collar. Keep in mind that if you are going for a cummerbund, it is suggested you go for a shirt with black buttons but if you are going for a vest, white buttons would do.
  • Bow tie: Just like there is a range of colors available for dinner jackets, there is too for bow ties. Just keep in mind not to pick a white bow tie as this is worn at a white-tie event. Also, never wear a clip-on bow tie. Make sure you know how to tie one and if not, you can always learn via YouTube.

When to Wear a Dinner Jacket?

The dinner jacket initially came out as a less formal alternative to the tailcoat which at the time was worn every evening for dinner by the elite men. Dinner jackets can be worn to both formal and semi-formal events as well as weddings, high-end dinners, prom, the opening of the Opera, ballet or symphony, a ball or black-tie events.

What is the Difference between a Dinner Jacket and a Suit Jacket? 

Now that we know what a dinner jacket is let’s not confuse it with a suit jacket. They are both different in many ways and we do not blame you if you think otherwise. A suit jacket is also called a lounge jacket or lounge coat. Tux or dinner jackets are formal evening wear. Lounge coats or lounge jackets are formal daywear. A tux or dinner jacket can only be worn after 6 pm and not during the day. A lounge jacket or suit jacket can be worn during the daytime and in some evening events as well. Fun fact: a suit jacket is also different from a blazer. Yes, menswear can be complicated. The main physical difference between a dinner jacket and a suit jacket is that dinner jackets have satin details—satin-faced lapels and satin buttons while suit jackets do not. Instead of satin buttons, they usually have bone, plastic or fabric-covered buttons. 

Dinner jackets come in just a single closure button design. Suit jackets range from one to three buttons. 

Another major difference between the two jackets is their pocket styles. To maintain a sleek look, dinner jackets don’t have the traditional pocket flap/patch pockets which are commonly found in a blazer or suit jacket. Times are changing which means the style is evolving and it’s becoming even harder to tell these clothing pieces apart.

Briefly To Conclude

Dinner jackets make the perfect choice of clothing for any formal event. From different colors to fabrics, the options to pick from are endless. Hands down the best garment every man should own. From choosing how and when one should don a dinner jacket to spotting the differences between a dinner jacket and a suit jacket, we hope this information will be of help in your future dinner jacket shopping.

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