What Is a Dinner Jacket?
Alright, so you've finally got suits and tuxedos figured out. You know the differences, you know when to wear each, and you know how to style them. Throw a dinner jacket into the mix, though, and can get confusing, though they shouldn't. Tuxedos and dinner jackets all come down to terminology and history. If you've ever pulled off a tuxedo, well, chances are you can pull off a dinner jacket just fine (because you already have). For everything you need to know about dinner jackets and how to style one, read on–or skip ahead for a selection of some of our favorite dinner jackets from our favorite designers.
In this article:
What Is a Dinner Jacket?
Let's keep this simple: a dinner jacket is a term for a tuxedo jacket. There's ultimately no difference between the two, outside of the fact that you could argue that "tuxedo" refers to the full jacket and pants look whereas "dinner jacket" refers specifically to the jacket itself. In either case, a dinner jacket is the jacket you wear with a tuxedo.
The term "dinner jacket" is a distinctly British one, stemming from the custom of tuxedos being worn in the evening (you know, around the time dinner is served) and having been used since Henry Poole designed the world's first dinner jacket for the Prince of Wales in 1865. These days the terms "dinner jacket" and "tuxedo" are effectively interchangeable.
Dinner Jacket vs. Blazer
While there's no difference between a tuxedo jacket and a dinner jacket, there's plenty between a dinner jacket and a blazer. A blazer is substantially less formal than a dinner jacket and can be made from an array of materials, from wool to flannel to linen. Blazers and suit jackets can also vary in how structured they are. Some blazers are unstructured and drape freely without interior canvassing or padding to shape the fit. A dinner jacket is a bit more rigid, both in fit and fabric makeup. It's almost always made from wool or a wool blend and features lapels made from satin. The button can also be made from satin. You aren't going to find too many linen or seersucker dinner jackets. Similarly, dinner jackets are going to have a lot more canvassing and structure. It's incredibly uncommon to find one with a relaxed, unlined fit. This is because relaxed fits are for more casual suits, and a dinner jacket is anything but casual.
When to Wear a Dinner Jacket
Simply put, you're going to wear a dinner jacket any time you'd wear a tuxedo. This means white-tie and black-tie weddings are the time to suit them up. You can also wear one for a black-tie optional affair but they aren't going to be required. If you're having trouble deciding which way to go for a black-tie optional wedding, check to see the time of day the ceremony will occur. It's less of a hard and fast rule these days but dinner jackets technically fall under the category of eveningwear. If the ceremony is at 2 PM, try a suit. If it isn't until later in the evening, give that dinner jacket a go. For any event with a more casual dress code, leave the dinner jacket in your closet.
Your Guide to Wearing a White Dinner Jacket
Black-tie doesn't mean black suit. White dinner jackets are an undeniable sartorial flex, an eye-grabbing fit that makes one hell of an impression. It's a James Bond move if there ever was one (Sean Connery famously donned one in Goldfinger, making for an elite menswear moment in a franchise full of them). Here's how to best pull one off.
When to Wear a White Dinner Jacket (And When Not To)
Wearing a white dinner jacket is generally going to be okay at any black-tie or black-tie optional wedding. However, this is an instance in which you're going to want to check with the couple before suiting up. While the rule of not wearing white to a wedding as a guest tends to apply a bit more specifically to dresses, it's always pertinent to check with the couple and see if they'd like you to consider that rule. It doesn't just come down to the bride, either–I've been to weddings where it was requested I abstain from wearing a white jacket because the groom would already be getting married in one. In either case, you always want to respect the couple's wishes first and foremost before getting dressed for their special day.
Top Dinner Jackets for Weddings and Beyond
Looking to suit up in a dinner jacket for your next wedding or black-tie event? Try on any of these for an instant James Bond boost (quite literally, in one case) to your wardrobe.
Indochino Hampton Dinner Jacket
With wide peak lapels and a made-to-measure fit, Indochino's signature Hampton dinner jacket is a great entryway into black-tie suiting.
Size Range: Made-to-Measure
Banana Republic Norte Velvet Tuxedo Jacket
Velvet can bring some flash to a dinner jacket and help you channel your inner Vegas crooner (in a good way, I promise). Banana Republic's Norte is a great entry point into the world of velvet dinner jackets, coming in at an affordable price point and overdelivering on quality.
Size Range: 36-48
Oliver Brown Beaufort White Dinner Jacket
Between the double-breasted cut and the creamy off-white color, this stunner from Oliver Brown is everything a dinner jacket should be. Slide this on and you'll be looking like you just ran the tables at a Monte Carlo casino in the seventies.
Size Range: 34-52L
Todd Snyder Italian Shawl Collar Tuxedo
Todd Snyder's shawl collar dinner jacket is a strong contender for the best you can buy for less than $1000. It's a timeless look made from quality materials and craftsmanship and will last for years and years (and never stop looking good throughout)
Size Range: 36S-46L
Saks Fifth Avenue COLLECTION Dinner Jacket
Want your dinner jacket to stand out from the rest? Get it in navy, like this one from Saks Fifth Avenue's house collection. It's still a great formal neutral but adds some fun variance to a black-tie dress code.
Size Range: 38S-50
Zac Posen Shawl Collar Satin Jacket
Dinner jackets aren't just a menswear staple. This one from Zac Posen fits great into any womenswear ensemble, whether you're going for the full look or mixing and matching different pieces.
Size Range: 0-14
Bonobos Empire Italian Wool Tuxedo Jacket
Bonobos keeps it classic with their Empire dinner jacket. It's a well-proportioned piece with peak lapels and a great fit that will never go out of style.
Size Range: 36S-48L
Anthony Sinclair Ecru Peak Lapel Dinner Jacket
If you're looking for the ultimate dinner jacket, go straight to the source. Anthony Sinclair's white dinner jacket is a faithful reproduction of the same one the brand made for Sean Connery to wear as James Bond in Goldfinger. Decades later, the quality and craftsmanship are still there and this jacket still looks like the cream of the crop.
Polo Ralph Lauren Silk Lapel Double-Breasted Wool Blazer
As with most anything the brand touches, Polo Ralph Lauren's double-breasted dinner jacket in a women's cut is among the best you're likely to find. With wide peak lapels and a double-breasted closure, it's perfect for full-suit wedding fits.
Size Range: 00-18
Spier & MacKay Black Double-Breasted Tuxedo
With thick lapels that curve subtly towards their peak, Spier & MacKay's double-breasted blazer oozes old-school British elegance. It also comes in at an incredible price point under $500.
Size Range: 34-44L
Bonobos Italian Performance Tuxedo Jacket
Bonobos's excellent design ethos carries over to their extended sizing collection. Their Big & Tall tuxedo, for example, is among the best-looking out there and comes in at under $300.
Size Range: 48S-54S
State & Liberty Athletic Fit Navy with Shawl Collar Tuxedo
State & Liberty specializes in suiting for guys with broader, more athletic fits. You won't have to skip chest or back day at the gym to pull off their killer navy dinner jacket with style.
Size Range: 38-48
Brooks Brothers Classic Fit Wool 1818 Tuxedo
Not ready for wide lapels just yet? Stick with a classic in Brooks Brothers' 1818 Tuxedo. It's got standard proportions and the quality you'd expect from a brand with as much history in menswear as they have.
Size Range: 36-48
How Should a Dinner Jacket Fit?
Good news: this one's pretty simple. A dinner jacket should fit just like any other suit, which is to say not too loose and not too snug. You're aiming for a happy medium between the two, avoiding a skintight look and feel while also not looking like you're wearing a hand-me-down from a much larger cousin. For everything you need to know about how to nail your dinner jacket's fit, check out our in-depth guide on how a suit should fit.