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Paolo on the White Dinner Jacket

“The Tuxedo, which is the essential evening dress of a gentleman, is simply the English dinner coat. It was first introduced in this country at the Tuxedo Club to provide something less formal than the swallow-tail, and the name has clung ever since. To a man who cannot afford to get two suits of evening clothes, the Tuxedo is of greater importance. It is worn every evening and nearly everywhere, whereas the tailcoat is necessary only at balls, formal dinners, and in a box at the opera.”

—Emily Post


No debating it; the lady certainly knew that of which she spoke.

However, I think when it comes to a more contemporary expression of evening dress, the formal garment that every well-turned-out fellow requires in his wardrobe — in addition to a classic black tux — is a perfect white dinner jacket.  

In fact, the most dependably dapper dressers over the course of the past century or so — from Bogie in Casablanca, to James Bond in, well, pretty much every movie (and any number of ultimately thwarted Bond villains), to Tom Ford — have demonstrated that the white dinner jacket has evolved from resort wear preference to modern prerequisite.

Although purists amongst us will lament the donning of the white diner jacket for anything besides banqueting, I’m entirely comfortable suggesting you wear this for a summer afternoon wedding or the occasional surfside candlelight supper pour deux.

When considering cloth, my favorite is a lightweight (8 oz) Super 120’s woven in Italy. It's a conclusively perfect off-white cloth, luxurious but not precious, and when realized as a single button shawl collar model, pretty much the apex of masculine glamour.


But should the notion of such sheer grandeur be, well, just a bit too grand, you should consider the fantastic mock-leno jacket as shown below. It’s a splendid cloth, and available from a number of great mills —Drapers, or Holland and Sherry, or Fox Brothers — and frankly I’m equally partial to them all.

So, in terms of keeping your stylish cool this season, a white jacket will cover your formal wear requisites, and, as a more casual alternative, provide an effortlessly elegant option.

Here’s to a great summer.

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