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A tuxedo (American English) or dinner suit or dinner jacket (British English) is a semi-formal evening suit distinguished primarily by satin or grosgrain facings on the jacket's lapels and buttons and a similar stripe along the outseam of the trousers. The suit is typically black (though may be midnight blue) and commonly worn with a formal shirt, shoes and other accessories, most traditionally in the form prescribed by the black tie dress code.
Although many etiquette and sartorial experts have insisted for a century that tuxedo is less correct than dinner jacket, the first written reference to tuxedo predates dinner jacket by two years: tuxedo first appeared in 1889 while dinner jacket is dated only to 1891. Contrarily, the Prince of Wales had apparently ordered a "tailless dinner jacket" from his tailors in 1885.
Today, the terms are variously used in different parts of the world. Tuxedo (or, colloquially, tux) is used most often in North America; it was associated with Tuxedo Park, a planned resort community developed as a hunting club in the Ramapo Mountains near New York City. In Britain "tuxedo" is sometimes used to refer to the white version of the suit jacket. Conversely, in North American, the white jacket is generally known as a dinner jacket. 
In French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian and also other European languages, the jacket is called a smoking. In French the shawl-collared version is le smoking Deauville, while the peaked-lapel version is le smokin sentirent. In many places, it is often nicknamed a "penguin suit," given its black and white colors. In the United States, it is also referred to as a "monkey suit" in slang. Street musicians with pet monkeys dressed them in miniature tuxes for entertainment.
Origin and rise to respectability 
In the 1860s, the increasing popularity of outdoor activities among the British middle and upper classes led to a corresponding increase in the popularity of the casual lounge suit (standard suit in American English) as a country alternative to the more formal day wear that was traditionally worn in town. Men also sought a similar alternative to the extremely formal tailcoat worn every evening. The solution for some country squires was to adapt the casual velvet smoking jacket by making it from the evening tailcoat's fabric and finishes, thus making it acceptable for "informal" meals at home.
A turning point in the respectability of wearing tailless jackets with dress evening wear was the adoption of the style by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII of the United Kingdom). Henry Poole & Co., tailors of Savile Row, have an undated receipt for a blue silk smoking jacket ordered for the future monarch to wear to informal dinner parties. (Poole & Co. have variously claimed dates of 1860 and 1865 for the receipt.) By 1885, the Prince was ordering a "tailless dinner jacket" from the firm.
Introduction to North America 
One version of the style's introduction to the United States also concerns the British prince. At the time, the largest firm in the business of providing travelers' letters of credit between the United States and Britain was Brown Bros. & Co. The head of the firm in London was Howard Potter, the son-in-law of the company founder James Brown. Among the London partners was his son James Brown Potter, who was based in New York.
In the summer of 1886, the Prince invited the New York millionaire James Brown Potter to Sandringham House, his Norfolk hunting estate. When Potter asked for guidance on appropriate dinner dress, the Prince sent him to Poole & Co. to obtain the new style of jacket. Potter took the dinner suit home with him to Tuxedo Park Club, a newly established residential country club for New York's elite. The dinner suit proved so popular that the club men copied him, soon making it their informal dining uniform.
Sources dating to the 1930s state that the coat style was introduced to Tuxedo Park in 1886 by by Griswold Lorillard, heir to the tobacco fortune, at the enclave's Autumn Ball. These sources cite an article in the society newspaper Town Topics, which described Lorillard arriving in "a tailless dress coat and waistcoat of scarlet satin, looking for all the world like a royal footman." The Canadian blogger Peter Marshall has speculated that the Town Topics article has been misinterpreted and that the "dress coat" mentioned was a period reference to the evening tailcoat. He suggests Lorillard's coat would have resembled a mess jacket, not a tuxedo jacket.
Grenville Kane, one of the original founders of Tuxedo Park, provided what may be the most reliable account. His explanation was that the club's members began to wear the jacket in public when they dined in New York City, and that curious onlookers came to associate the jacket with the Tuxedo Club.
Although the smoking jacket's shawl collar was originally used for the tuxedo jacket, by the turn of the twentieth century, the peaked lapel taken from the tailcoat had become equally popular. The notch lapel was less frequently seen. By this time the jacket was most commonly a one-button single-breasted model with no vents. Trousers matched the jacket, which was most commonly black, although Edwardian dandies often opted for Oxford gray or a very dark blue. By World War I, the gray option had fallen out of favour, but the "midnight blue" alternative became increasingly popular. A single stripe of braid covering the outseam on each leg was an occasional variation at first, but became standard by the 1930s. At this time double-breasted jackets also came into style, as did white jackets in hot weather.
Color, texture and pattern became increasingly popular in warm-weather jackets in the 1930s. In the 1960s, these variations became increasingly common regardless of season or climate. By the 1970s, mass-market retailers began offering colored versions of the entire suit to its rental customers. The 1980s vogue for nostalgic and retro styles returned the fashion to black for evening wear, with midnight blues making a comeback after the turn of the 21st century.
Lapels and details have also evolved through the decades. In the 1960s, notch lapels, which had become quite uncommon during the previous 40 years, began to make a comeback. Tuxedo jackets increasingly took on traits of the business suit, such as two- and three-button styling, flap pockets, and center vents. The notch lapel had become the most common lapel style by the turn of the millennium, despite being disdained by many traditionalists.
Footwear also changed, with bowed patent pumps falling out of style and increasingly giving ground to tied and matte-finished shoes, beginning in the 1980s. Each of these changes – in lapels, pockets, vents, buttons – while diverging from the styles of the early 20th century, have historical precedent in the Edwardian and late Victorian periods. In the 2010s, however, there developed a vogue for wearing long-ties rather than bow-ties with dinner jackets, a complete departure from tradition.
Contemporary usage 
United States 
The most popular uses of the tuxedo in North America at present are for formal weddings, formal proms, formal nights on cruises and are also worn by male musicians at formal concerts. In these circumstances the tuxedo's styling and accessories are most commonly chosen according to the wearer's tastes. Far less popular are black tie events, such as gala fundraisers, where men typically wear more traditional tuxedos and accessories as dictated by the dress code.
See also 
- Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, Stuart Berg Flexner and Lenore Crary Hauck, editors, Random House, New York (1993).
- August 1889 issue of Sartorial Arts Journal, according to the Oxford English Dictionary
- "Terminology". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Late Victorian Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- Flusser, Alan (2002). Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. New York/woodford: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. p. 303. ISBN 0-06-019144-9.
- reprinted in "The Saga Of American Society: A Record Of Social Aspiration 1607-1937". 1937.
- "History: Late Victorian Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- This account was related in a 1929 conversation with his colleague J. Earle Stevens, Jr. who later recounted the conversation in an essay originally posted online by the Tuxedo Park archives. It is available at "Citizen Arcane".
- "History: Edwardian Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Depression Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Postwar Period". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Jet Age". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Counterculture Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Yuppie Years". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- "History: Millennial Era". Black Tie Guide. Retrieved 2011-04-01.