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What Is a Smoking Jacket?

A burgundy smoking jacket.
Instead of getting the smell of smoke on their clothing, smokers can wear smoking jackets over their clothes.
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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Images By: Pop Culture Geek, Nito
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2014
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A smoking jacket is exactly what it sounds like: a jacket that is made for the purpose of being worn while smoking pipes, cigars, or cigarettes. These jackets were originally designed for men, and were used as a means of catching falling ashes and absorbing the smell of the smoke to protect the clothing underneath. The popularity of these garments has largely fallen by the wayside, but they are still worn occasionally for novelty or to make a unique fashion statement.

A famous modern wearer of the smoking jacket is Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine. The history of the jacket itself, however, originates in the 17th century, when men could often be seen in portraits wearing long dressing gowns. This style evolved into shorter garments, at about the time when smoking was gaining popularity. Shorter, silk, smoking jackets quickly became synonymous with the smoking of imported Turkish tobacco products. The jackets could be worn by men after dinner, or while socializing with guests.

Very few of these historic jackets exist still today, and authentic models could fetch a very high price in the antiques market. This classic style would typically be made from silk or velvet. They had long sleeves with turned-up cuffs, a shawl collar, and buttons for fastening on the front. They came in a wide variety of colors, with an even larger variety of ornamentations.

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The reasons to wear a smoking jacket were not only for the purpose of fashion, clothing protection, and relaxation, but also to protect women from the smells that smoking could leave on clothing. Smoking caps and slippers could also be used to further keep hair and feet from becoming tainted with acrid smells that were deemed much too harsh for women's senses at the time. Therefore, not only would the jacket offer supreme comfort and style, but could also be seen as the sign of a true gentleman.

In the 1950s, these garments were at the height of their popularity, and many famous movie stars and celebrities of the time could be seen wearing a smoking jacket. One of them, Fred Astaire, was even buried in his. The popularity declined after this period, however, and smoking jackets began to be seen as too garish. In addition, smoking is increasingly frowned upon in modern culture because of its adverse effects on health.

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galen84basc
Post 3

Does anybody know where you can buy a smoking jacket these days? My husband loves to smoke his pipe, but I always tease him about it, so I thought that I could buy him a smoking jacket as a gag gift for Christmas.

Maybe a really bright white silk smoking jacket, just to make it even more ridiculous. Of course, the classic black velvet smoking jacket is pretty outre as well these days, so I'd really settle for any jacket in that general style.

So do you guys know of any good, reputable dealers in smoking jackets? I want a real one though, not a smoking jacket costume. Let me know if you have any leads -- I'd really be interested in following this up.

Thanks!

LittleMan
Post 2

I have to say, I always thought that men wearing smoking jackets looked really sleazy. You usually only see them on kind of creepy older guys, nowadays. Or on soap operas -- I find that a lot of villains on soap operas have a penchant for wearing smoking jackets as well.

For me, the whole smoking jacket thing is just a little bizarre, and slightly uncomfortable.

Just think about all the crazy guys who bought black velvet smoking jackets in the 70s to match their gigantic mustaches and tight trousers. I for one am glad that this trend has died out -- couldn't have happened soon enough for me!

pleats
Post 1

Oh, is there anything more fashionable than a men's smoking jacket? I think not! I know that smoking is terrible for your health, etc, but I think that the style of the smoking jacket/robe is just so attractive! It's such a shame that it's disappearing just because it's associated with smoking.

All of the ones I see now are mostly just smoking jacket costumes, not real smoking jackets. I think that this trend should totally start up again. It doesn't have to be associated with smoking -- it can just be a cool, attractive men's fashion.

I mean, honestly ladies, don't you just die when you see one of the pictures of the old Hollywood stars in their smoking jackets? I know I do! So guys, bring it back -- it is a sophisticated and very attractive fashion, and if you hop on the trend early, you will totally attract the ladies with your avant garde fashion sense.

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