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What is a Cigar Smoking Jacket and Where Did it Go ?

A popular cigar accessory at one point used to be a Smoking Jacket.

A Cigar smoking jacket is an overgarment designed to be worn while smoking cigars and pipe tobacco.

This guy loves his smoking jacket
This guy loves his smoking jacket

Smoking jackets have declined in popularity since the 1950s, though a minority of wearers still exists, Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner being a notable example. In its January/February 1999 issue, Cigar Aficionado stated that it was time the smoking jacket be brought back. However 15 years later we still have not seen an increase in this type of cigar clothing. It’s roughly as popular as top-hats are today. Something that was highly fashionable half a century or so ago but today are almost non-existent. The top-hat somewhat vanished from American streets in the mid 1960s.

Though there are instances of Smoking Jackets being written about in the late 1500’s early 1600’s, The Crimean War in the 1850s popularized Turkish tobacco in England and cigar smoking gained in popularity during and after the war.

In the 1850s, the Gentlemen’s Magazine of London defined the smoking jacket as a “kind of short robe de chambre, of velvet, cashmere, plush, merino or printed flannel, lined with bright colours, ornamented with brandenbourgs, olives or large buttons.

After dinner, a British gentleman might put on a smoking jacket and retreat to a den. The jacket was intended to absorb the smoke from his cigar and protect his clothing from falling ash.

Another reason might simply be fashion, going though history you’ll see all sorts of fashion accessories that existed for men for a long time then vanished, such as the top hat noted above.

It’s possible that the reason behind the existence of a smoking jacket has been mostly eliminated. Today most cigars are now enjoyed outdoors, effectively removing the need for a smoking jacket. Another accessory that followed a similar path would be a pocket watch on a chain, this was replaced by wrist watches and now appears to be replaced by your cell phone clock (though wrist watches are still used as a fashion statement and high tech versions such as smart watches might one day replace your cell phone).

The reason for the decline for both pocket watches and smoking jackets might not necessarily be due to fashion, but most likely triggered due to a changing technological or cultural issue. Enjoying cigars outdoors typically requires no smoking jacket as does having a pocket watch displaying the same time as your cell phone.

This most likely was the initial reason for the decline of what was once a popular cigar accessory.