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What is a Smoking Jacket?
According to Cigar Aficionado, the smoking jacket is a garment that last saw heavy use during the Edwardian era. It is a jacket that a proper gentleman could wear to protect his "good" clothes from the smell of tobacco smoke.
There are several types of smoking jackets. The dressier type has a shawl color, non-vented sleeves and piped trim on the sleeves and lapels. A simpler belted robe style is more suited to lounging, and may bring up visions of the quintessential gentleman of leisure.
Fabric for a Smoking Jacket
Smoking jackets should be made from luxurious, comfortable fabric that drapes well. Soft silk or cotton velvet is an excellent choice for the more structured buttoned version, while a fluid silk satin is terrific for the robe style. Deep brocades are also appropriate.
Take advice from the 19th century mens' fashion guide, The Gentleman's Magazine: a smoking jacket is "a kind of short robe de chambre, of velvet, cashmere, plush, merino, or printed flannel; lined with bright colors, ornamented with brandenbourgs, olives, or large buttons."
Finding a Pattern
With the popularity of historical period reenactments, there are several excellent patterns for smoking jackets that suit every ability. Three companies, Past Patterns, Folkwear and Butterick make sewing patterns.
For the historical stickler or professional costumer, the first two brands will be the best bet. The Past Pattern version is actually culled from a period magazine. The Butterick 4094 pattern is well-researched, comes with some shirt designs, and is aimed for the hobbyist sewer.