Tuxedos and Men’s Attire

WikiWeddings is the best way to find and share wedding advice and plan your perfect wedding.

Jump to: navigation, search

The History of the Tuxedo

The history of the tuxedo actually goes back in time quite a bit farther than you might think. At least the word itself does. The Algonquins living in the area of New York where the term originates from had a practice of naming an area of land after the chief whose tribe lived on it. Thus, the term P’tauk-Seet which was the name of the Sachem whose tribe occupied the land later called by Non-Indians Tuxedo. So, the word tuxedo is thought to be a butchered version of the name of the chief whose tribe lived on the land in the seventeeth century.

Later when the land passed from the Algonquins to the Dutch settlers the name stuck in one way or another changing a little but still sounding phonetically similar. As far back as 1754 in the area you can find references to the word tuxedo in written records.

In 1780, the Marquis de Chastellux butchers it even further calling the area Duck Seeder or Duck Sider which was corrupted even further and changed to Duck Cedar. The explanation for this being that the area was rife with cedar trees and ducks and was a great hunting ground. However, while this may be true, more likely the original Algonquin word had undergone another butchering of the pronunciation and was later made to fit by non-Indians.

In the 1800's the Lorillard family began buying up land in the area once belonging to the old Sachem and his Algonquin tribe. By 1852 they owned most of the area that had come to be known as Cheescock Patent legally, and which comprised the original area where the Algonquins had once resided. The family turned the tract of land into an elite resort for fishermen and hunters, affordable only by the very wealthy. The family then imported workers from Italy and began building elaborate homes all over the area. The area later came to be known as Tuxedo Park.

James Brown Potter a founder of Tuxedo Park was introduced to idea of the dinner jacket by the Prince of Wales, who was later to become Edward VII, when he and his wife Cora visited England in the summer of 1886. Apparently James had asked the prince regent for advice on evening wear. Being the nice guy that it appears he was, he sent James to his personal tailer who made a short black jacket and tie for James. The prince and his tailor were inspired by the uniform worn by British soldiers of the time which consisted of a short black jacket without the tails, and a black tie. The dinner jacket is said to have been designed by the Prince of Wales.

On a side note, English clothing historian James Laver claims that the idea of wearing the color black for evening wear came from the famous nineteenth century British writer named Edward Bulwer-Lyttonn. He wrote in 1828 that,"people must be very distinguished to look well in black." So, apparently the prince regent took this to heart also when designing his dinner jacket, that later came to be known as the tuxedo.

James Potter Brown brought back his dinner jacket with him from England, and at the first Autumn Ball which took place at the Tuxedo Club in October of 1886, the dinner jacket was introduced for the first time. In fact, Pierre Lorillard and his buddies startled the crowd by wearing dinner jackets instead of the standard white tie and tails as was customary at the time. This was the true birth of the tuxedo, and from that night forward the tuxedo has been the choice for any man needing a suit for elegant occasions. It was adopted by both the rich and the poor as a symbol of male elegance.

So, while the tuxedo itself as we know it did not appear until 1886, the word itself certainly has taken an interesting journey.

Personal tools