Smoking Jacket vs Tuxedo

Is a black or midnight blue velvet smoking jacket in the same playing field of formality a traditional dinner suit/tuxedo? If so, are there design aspects that make it more or less appropriate e.g lapel shapes, single or double breasted etc…

I ask because I’ve been invited to a black tie event which is not a common occurrence for me and think that a single breasted velvet jacket might serve me better in the long run because I could potentially work it into outfits for less formal occasions, rather than letting a tuxedo go to waist in my wardrobe.

2 Replies to “Smoking Jacket vs Tuxedo”

  1. I feel like the velvet/smoking jacket alternative is kind of a third rail in formalwear right now — people are doing it, and no one wants to definitively weigh in on whether they should be or not.

    I personally err on the conservative side of it: a smoking jacket was very specifically a garment for the home and personal leisure, which makes it the wrong style for a formal, celebratory event. Just as you wouldn’t pull out a pouch and pipe and light up at a big charity gala or formal wedding, you also shouldn’t be wearing the jacket meant to enjoy your pipe and tobacco in.

    That said, “velvet jacket” isn’t quite the same as “smoking jacket,” and you will see black or midnight-blue dinner-style velvet jackets at some formal black tie events. A single-button velvet jacket that borrows tuxedo details — peaked lapels or shawl collar, jetted pockets, etc. — might pass muster among a fashionable crowd.

    If you can wear it with confidence it can work, but understand that you’ll be standing out a little, and that standing out isn’t really the point of black tie.

    Tricky subject, no? Glad someone asked this question.

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