The Gentleman’s Trend: How To Wear A Smoking Jacket

By Charlie Colville

3 months ago

Give your wardrobe a classy boost this season

Get a taste of sartorial snazziness with our edit of the best smoking jackets for 2023, ideal for events dressing, dinners out with friends or just looking effortlessly dapper at home.

As always, keep the planet in mind when shopping. Re-using and re-wearing is the best way to be sustainable, but if you can’t avoid it then shop consciously at responsible retailers, as well as rental and resale sites.

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What Is A Smoking Jacket?

A smoking jacket is a piece of men’s outerwear crafted from velvet or silk, featuring a shawl collar, turn-up cuffs and either a tie belt or toggle fastening.

As the name suggests, a smoking jacket was originally intended to be worn at home (or in a designated smoking room – see the best places for cigar smoking in London here) while smoking tobacco. Part jacket, part dressing gown, the style was designed to absorb smoke and protect a gentleman’s clothing from falling ash.

The inspiration for the smoking jacket was taken from the 1600s but popularised in the 1850s – this was due to the spread of tobacco in England,’ says Simon Gold, a designer and menswear consultant based in NYC. ‘The smoking jacket is usually made out of a velvet or silk, a shawl collar and can have three different types of closures: a belt, buttons are these looping toggles that are called frogs.

‘But behind its elaborate design it is exceedingly practical,’ he continues. ‘In the evening, when you wanted to have a cigar, the smoking jacket was your barrier. It was used to keep the smoke smell off your evening dress and the ash from your cigars off your jacket. The velvet or silk smoking jacket would keep you smelling fresh and looking clean – and it of course will lessen complaints when you arrive back to the dinner table. But towards the 1860s and more modern day the smoking jacket was seen as a more relaxed alternative to classic formalwear, and the evolution of the jacket kept moving on as it became even more streamlined and less embellished in the 20s and 30s to falling out of favour for a bit post-war. But in modern days is back at better than ever being a staple for many luxury houses and tailors, to being seen at every red carpet and gala.’ Menswears most iconic garment #smokingjacket #menswear #tailoring #tailored #mensfashion #mensstyle #classicstyle #timeless #menstailoring #bespoke #savilerow #mensstyleguide #fashionhistory ♬ La belle vie – Sacha Distel

As Simon mentioned, the classic design is still pretty common today, but you’ll also see more modern takes which bare more similarities to your typical tux. Regardless of the style, you can find these outerwear staples in a variety of colours, from green to pink – although the most popular colours remain black and blue.

When Should You Wear One?

The beauty of a smoking jacket is its interchangeability. While the original 1850s design was an informal, lounge style jacket worn almost exclusively at home, the smoking jacket has also served a long stint in formalwear (it’s suggested that wearing smoking jackets as a dinner jackets was made popular by Edward, Prince of Wales – later King Edward VII – in 1865).

These days, while our smoking habits have somewhat fizzled out, we’re still fond of this historical design.

Formal Events

More and more people are opting for a smoking jacket over a tux at formal events – with celebrities on red carpets and at award shows, opera-goers, and wedding guests and groomsmen all taking part in the trend. Pair yours with a crisp shirt, slacks (bonus points if the material and colour matches your jacket) and a pair of oxfords, brogues or loafers for an elevated formal look.

Casual Events

This doesn’t mean you can’t wear a smoking jacket anywhere else. The casual aesthetic of the smoking jacket makes it a great fit for casual parties, dinners with friends and even lazy (yet sophisticated) days at home. Simply wear with a t-shirt, trousers and slippers (formal or dressy) to create a put-together outfit.

Men stood at snooker table wearing velvet jackets

Oliver Brown London

How To Wear A Smoking Jacket

1. Loungewear & Slippers

Spending the day at home? If your smoking jacket is more on the traditional side (robe and all), then you can simply throw it over some casual home clothes like a t-shirt and some loose trousers for a relaxed, put-together look. Finish off the outfit with a pair of slippers are you’re good for a day of sophisticated lounging.

2. Dress Up vs Dress Down

The next level on how to wear a smoking jacket is that murky space between staying at home and going to events: hosting. This is a jacket that can be dressed up and down as much you want. Think slippers, chinos and a loosely buttoned shirt for more casual events (like drinks and parties), and smart shoes, suit trousers plus a neatly buttoned shirt and tie for more formal occasions (like sit-down dinners).

3. Black Tie

Up the ante at your next black tie event by ditching your suit jacket for a smoking jacket; simply keep the basic components of your tux (trousers and shirt) and throw on your new jacket on top. Since your jacket may be more colourful than a traditional blazer, make sure to wear a black bowtie with your outfit (unless stated otherwise). Throw on a pair of smart black shoes and you’re ready to walk the red carpet.

Suave Smoking Jackets For 2024

Navy smoking jacket on mannequin

Featured image: Oliver Brown London