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April 25, 2013

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Mister Beebe

This is fascinating, and wonderful to learn that the debonair Mr. Astaire's ensemble is on view. But in the interest of sartorial (and curatorial) correctness, you should be aware that this is not a tuxedo. It's a set of tails. A tuxedo is the outfit most commonly referred to as black tie.

K. Brainerd

Wonderful post about Mr. Astaire's tailsuit. However, I did not see his tuxedo displayed at all in the photos.

Lynn Hoffman

I am inquiring about the use of the term tuxedo, as it is used to identify the Fred Astaire suit from your collection, being exhibited at RISD. The coat in the pictures is clearly a tail suit, aka: dress suit. The lineage of the tail suit is quite clear, and the documentation of the tuxedo is well recorded. According to Thornton's Sectional System(1894), the dinner jacket (known as a tuxedo after 1886, but also identified variously as the Monte Carlo, the Dress Lounge, and Le Smoking-not to be confused with the smoking jacket) existed in England as early as 1860, and was always a short jacket. Can you please explain why the labeling has been so grossly confused?

Rachel

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this post! It’s wonderful to see that our readers have such passionate feelings about fashion and fashion history.

Menswear, particularly formal wear, does consist of highly specific categories. Our curators have chosen to define this ensemble as a "tuxedo" because this is a generally accepted term used to describe men’s formal dress. As many of you have pointed out, the strictly accurate term would be a "tail suit" or a "dress suit."

We’ve chosen not to update the post so that readers can form their own opinions about this fascinating terminology debate.

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