Antique Victorian Smoking Jackets
Antique Victorian Smoking Jackets are items of men's clothing worn during the 19th century.
History and Description
A smoking jacket is a jacket designed to be worn while using tobacco. The purpose is to absorb the smell of pipe or tobacco smoke and to protect the user’s clothes from burn marks and ash.
The familiar mid thigh-length version which remained fashionable until the 1950s was first worn in the middle of the 19th century when Turkish tobacco was brought home from the Crimean War and the popularity of smoking cigarettes increased. However, it had evolved from a longer garment, similar to a modern dressing gown, which was worn for the same purpose from the 17th century.
Typically, a Victorian smoking jacket is made from velvet, fine wool or quilted silk and is highly decorated, with frogging, a shawl collar, and turned-up cuffs.
Guide For Collectors
The smoking jacket is an iconic garment, as it epitomizes a traditional masculine ‘decadence’, and many iconic figures habitually wore one.
Smoking jackets may be dated by the design. Although smoking jackets worn in the 20th century were based on the Victorian, mid thigh length design, they generally became less heavily decorated. For example, the popular Victorian design which featured frogging and toggle fastenings had largely been abandoned by the end of WW1.
The smoking jacket began to more closely resemble a loosely fitted dinner jacket. The use of velvet also became less frequent toward the end of the 19th century, and the colours used became more sombre. The website victorianweb.org gives an overview of the developments in men’s fashions which influenced the design of smoking jackets.
In May 2012 the Ruby Lane website offered a Victorian smoking jacket in black wool, purple, red and amber striped, with shawl collar and frogged closures, for $350.
In May 2012 the Gentlemens Emporium website offered a Victorian smoking jacket in black wool and velvet with satin trimmed lapels, for $179.