Film Fashion Friday 25. Smoking Jackets Worn by Nelson Eddy and Claude Rains

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Today is Friday, so it’s time for another Film Fashion Fridays article. Two weeks ago, I published an article about hostess outfits, vintage ensembles which are appropriate for wear around the house. Today, I am going to write about the male equivalent of this fashion, smoking jackets.

Phantom of the Opera (Universal 1943) - Classic Monsters

Edgar Barrier and Nelson Eddy in Phantom of the Opera, 1943.

A smoking jacket, which you can see Nelson Eddy wearing in the above picture, is a cross between a suit coat and a robe or dressing gown. It was often worn around the house by gentlemen in the morning or in the evening. After coming home from work, a gentleman might take off his suit coat and put a smoking jacket on over his remaining clothes. A gentleman who was a performer might wear a smoking jacket over his costume, as Nelson Eddy does in Phantom of the Opera. This garment is called a smoking jacket because a gentleman would often wear it when smoking a pipe in the evening, often while reading a newspaper. One doesn’t have to smoke to enjoy this luxurious style.

The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in The Invisible Man, 1933.

Suave Englishman Claude Rains was often associated with the smoking jacket because he famously wore one in his American film debut, The Invisible Man. Although his face is not seen until the last scene of the movie, he looked very dapper in his smoking jacket and bandaged head ensemble. Although this is a pre-Code film, it is a good example of a longer, more robe-like variety of this style. For this particular article, we will mainly focus on shorter smoking jackets, which look more formal since they look less like dressing gowns, which would be worn over pajamas.

Happy Birthday, Claude Rains! | The Claude Rains Fan Club

Claude Rains and his cat in Deception, 1946.

The above picture from Deception shows Claude Rains in an excellent smoking jacket. This outfit is particularly helpful for this article, since he is wearing his jacket with a full at-home ensemble instead of over an opera costume like Nelson Eddy. This smoking jacket looks like its material is satin, rather than velour or velvet. I would estimate that it is red or burgundy, although it also could be green or blue. It is the length of a standard coat, and it doesn’t seem to have a tie at the waist. It has a shiny, quilted black collar and cuffs. As you can see, he is also wearing a plain white dress shirt with cufflinks and a white scarf or cravat at his neck. We won’t discuss the shirt and trousers, since they are standard, but we will address the cravat later, since that is part of this outfit’s signature look.

Smoking Jacket 1

Nelson Eddy and Edgar Barrier in Phantom of the Opera.

Nelson Eddy’s smoking jacket is velour or velvet. It is dark gray. It is standard suit coat length. It has a satin quilted silver collar and cuffs. It has no tie at the waist, but it has a small decorative clasp in the front. As mentioned before, he is wearing it over a costume, which includes a gray tunic and navy pants.

Let’s start with considering some smoking jackets from Amazon.

The above smoking jacket from Amazon is velour with matching collar and cuffs. It also has a matching tie at the waist. It has pockets. Although the whole jacket is the same material and solid color, it has a braided white and black rope trim on the collar, cuffs, and pockets. The material is 75% cotton and 25% polyester. It comes in black (pictured), burgundy, and navy. It costs $98.95-105.95, depending on the size and color.

The above smoking jacket from Amazon is velour with quilted satin collar and cuffs. It has a matching tie at the waist. It has pockets with quilted edging. The material is 100% cotton with 100% polyester lining. It comes in navy (pictured), black, burgundy with black trim, midnight navy with black trim, purple with black trim, and grey wool with black trim, which is not velour or quilted. It costs $99.95-199.95, depending on the size and color you order.


The above smoking jacket from Amazon is satin with collar and cuffs of the same material but a contrasting color. It has a matching tie at the waist. It has two lower pockets with contrasting lining as well as a breast pocket with the same style. It also has two inside pockets. The material is 100% polyester. It comes in burgundy with black trim (pictured), black with grey trim, navy with grey trim, and black with burgundy trim. It costs $69.95-149.95, depending on which size and color you choose.

Deception (1946) - Toronto Film Society

Bette Davis and Claude Rains in Deception, 1946.

As you can see in the above picture, Claude Rains wears a white scarf around his neck with his smoking jacket. It is a simple way to complete this outfit and provide a little extra warmth, if it is chilly. Even in warmer weather, a light scarf tied loosely around the neck and tucked into the jacket, adds extra style. It is very much like a necktie with a regular suit.

The above product from Amazon is described as an aviator scarf. It’s the sort of scarf which a pilot in the earlier 20th century would tie around his neck to match his leather jacket. It also can be tied in a not in the front and worn like Claude Rains’s scarf in the above picture. This looks like the ideal scarf to wear with this outfit. It is 8 inches wide by 60 inches long. It is 100% double-layered silk. It comes in off-white (pictured), aubergine, black, blue diamond, charcoal grey, dark brown, gray, jade green, maroon, mint jewel, navy, red, sapphire, soft brown, and yellow gold. White is the most standard to wear, but you could wear this scarf in another color, such as gray or black, to match the color or the trim of your smoking jacket. This item costs $36.

Phffft, From Left Jack Lemmon, Kim Photograph by Everett

Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak in Phffft!, 1954.

Some gentlemen might prefer a more decorative accessory than a plain white tie. In that case, a favorite patterned scarf can be worn around the neck. Another excellent alternative which one often sees in films or television shows is the ascot tie. It is similar to a small scarf, and it is loosely looped in front. It is a very dashing style and gives added flair to this ensemble.

 

The above item from Amazon is a set of four ascot ties with matching pocket squares. This set comes in thirty different sets, each with different patterns and colors. The ascots are traditional in the fact that you must tie them yourself; they are not pre-tied. The ascot is 46.5 inches long and 6.25 inches wide. The handkerchief is 9 inches by 9 inches. The material is 100% microfiber polyester. Each set costs $25.97, which is quite a bargain for what you are getting. If you are interested in wearing an ascot with your smoking jacket, I recommend that you get one of these sets. It will give you four different choices for different looks.

Deception (1946)

Bette Davis and Claude Rains in Deception.

As for shoes, one can wear oxfords or loafers with a smoking jacket, as Claude Rains is in the above picture. If one wanted to be more comfortable, he could wear slippers or some kind of slip-on shoe instead.

Halloween Havoc!: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Universal 1943 ...

Edgar Barrier, Susanna Foster, and Nelson Eddy in Phantom of the Opera.

That concludes my description of this outfit! Whether you want a dapper style for the evening after work or are looking for a stylish outfit to wear on your day off while around the house, the smoking jacket is a luxurious item which any gentleman can enjoy.

If you want to observe Messrs. Eddy’s and Rains’s styles for yourself, I suggest that you purchase these movies and study their outfits firsthand! Click the above image to Phantom of the Opera and Deception on DVD at Amazon and support PEPS through the Amazon Affiliate program.

Remember, take pictures of yourself in vintage style and send them to me to be featured in a future Film Fashion Fridays article! I will gladly republish your pictures, advice, and experiences in vintage clothing for others to see and read. Let’s make Friday a day for film fashion!

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