Antique c. 1895 garnet red wool tricot smoking jacket features matching quilted satin shawl collar, pockets, cuffs and lining. It has a rounded, cutaway front with single silk frog closure, which along with the deep cuffs and shaped pocket appliques are quite typical of 1890s smoking jackets or “lounge coats”, as they were also called.
Garnet (or “maroon”) was a very popular smoking jacket shade in the mid- to late 1890s, along with navy, brown, and green. Though often given as holiday gifts, such jackets were popular throughout the colder months as a luxuriously comfortable at-home garment—as well as one in which men could privately indulge their flashier side.
Satin-trimmed wool tricot smoking jackets like this example ranged in average cost between $3.50 and $10—the equivalent of $100 to $285 in today’s currency. Photo #9 shows an illustration of a similar garment in the 1895 H. O’Neill fall/winter catalog.
An 1894 article in the Washington DC “Evening Star” praised a similar tricot-and-satin jacket thus: “An exceedingly handsome design in a ‘swell’ lounge coat... is soft and yielding, enabling the wearer to loll about without the danger of marring its beauty. At the same time, it presents, by reason of its superior finish and rich quilting, an air of distinction. Fashion inclines to this sort of house coat more than the handsomer but less comfortable conceptions in silk or velvet.”
No manufacturer’s label, but there is a cloth museum inventory tag inside the left cuff. Measurements are: Chest 40”, shoulders 16.5”, waist 40”, sleeves 23”, length shoulder to hem 26”.
This rare early smoking jacket in a very desirable color is in good condition, sturdy and with the lining wholly intact, but with the following flaws: Scattered moth holes (I count 14) on the front of the jacket, most visibly grouped near the front right hem, where there is also a period mend; a threadbare spot on the edge of each cuff; and very slight darkening inside the neckline. Photos #6-8 show these issues. (NOTE: Garment has been freeze fumigated against further damage).
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild