It's unusual to be able to pinpoint where a specific fashion trend started and by whom, however the Tuxedo is one of the few garments that we know the complete origin. Here is a brief history of the Tuxedo and how it came to be the most formal attire in menswear.
Developed in the 1880's, Tuxedo Park was a retreat for the wealthy, located in upstate New York. James Brown Potter was a huge supporter of the development of the park and in the summer of 1886 traveled to England for vacation. Once there he met the Prince of Whales and was invited to his private estate at Sandringham. Shortly after his arrival to the estate, Potter realized he didn't have the proper formal attire to wear to their elegant dinners. He asked the Prince for his advice and was immediately sent to the Prince's tailor, Henry Poole & Co., where he was fitted for a short black jacket. The Prince had recently taken to wearing a black jacket without the traditional tails and Potter loved the new style.
After returning to Tuxedo Park from his summer abroad, Potter's elegant dinner jacket made quite the impression. Soon, men were going to their tailors and requesting similar jackets. The rise in popularity of the tailless black dinner jacket escalated even further due to a prank by Griswold Lorillard. At Tuxedo Park's Autumn Ball on October 19th 1886, Griswold and a group of followers decided to parody the new short jacket and showed up to the event in bright red vests and black jackets with tails. They then proceeded to cut the tails off in the middle the ball. The butchered tails created such commotion and a waive of media spread from New York across the country and the new formal style was born, the Tuxedo.
Here are the three types of Tuxedo's that we see today:
The Peak Lapel - The most traditional of the Tuxedo lapels, it was the original lapel used and was derived from the tailcoat.
Shawl Lapel - What we think of as the most formal of the three Tuxedo types is elegant and timeless. This type of lapel was influenced by smoking jackets and creates a softer look in comparison to it's angular counterpart - the Peak Lapel.
The Notch Lapel - This is the most casual of the lapels and originated from common lounge suit's.
Any of these styles is appropriate for black tie and formal events. Let us know in the comments below your favorite Tuxedo style!