Jacob Kose found Evan Fairbrother ’12 and Ben Dreier ’11 trying to build a grand piano out of tuxedos in the basement of Bloomingdales. They debated the question everyone’s been asking since October 10, 1886, while trying to build a piano bench out of 800 bowties: What did dudes used to wear to parties before the first tuxedo was worn to an autumn ball at Tuxedo Park, New York? We went through our wardrobes to come up with what can best be described as the truth.
Disclaimer: As always, Scrambled Eggs strives to adequately approximate what was said and who said what, but may at times mess all of that up.
Jacob Kose: It’s definitely much harder to document the evolution of men’s clothing than women’s clothing. Like, corsets, garters, going commando, I know how and why all of that happened. But when and where trends in men’s clothing happened I have no idea.
Ben Dreier: I feel like guys still decked themselves out way back when though, you know—
Evan Fairbrother: Just think about colonial accessories, like George Washington’s wooden teeth.
J.K.: Are those more or less thug than Kanye’s diamond teeth? I feel like Kanye’s teeth are accessories cause he can call up a dentist anytime and be all “These shiny rocks don’t taste good anymore, can I have my teeth back now?” but G-dub was wearing his wood for good.
E.F.: What about those big gray wigs they used to wear for balls and festive occasions? I think party attire and I think big gray wigs.
B.D.: Nothing says “take me home tonight” like a pile of someone else’s stanky old hair. I still can’t think of what was going on in the late 19th century that the tuxedo evolved and changed the history of mankind.
J.K.: I think it’s interesting that 1886 is close to the invention of the photograph, which was maybe the first modern technological art form. Maybe tuxedos got big when black and white portraits were all that and a bag of chips. But I guess there were pianos for hundreds of years before that … no one seems to borrow fashion ideas from instruments though.
Evan snores loudly, pretending to have fallen asleep on account of Jacob’s historical meanderings and his use of the phrase “all that and a bag of chips.”
B.D.: Here’s an idea: You put a girl in a red dress on a piano and that’s art. You put a guy in a tuxedo on a piano and that’s art. A tuxedo can’t make a man sexy, but a sexy man in a tuxedo — theres nothing better.
J.K.: Can I quote you on that?
J.K.: To be fair though, I think a tuxedo isn’t necessarily the best thing a man could wear, just the safest. Speaking of, I’m not sure if I’ve ever gotten down and dangerous in a tux.
B.D.: Hmmm I have to think. I first wore a tux for my 10th grade choir. Pretty risque. But yeah, a really nicely cut suit could work better, I love my charcoal suit.
J.K.: I’d go a dashing gray with a slim black tie and white shirt. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten dangerous in a suit either … yeah never mind, I definitely have. There were just so many bar and bat mitzvahs in seventh grade.
Evan has actually fallen asleep, his eyes scrunched close and head cocked straight in the air like a man possessed by his sneeze. He has never worn a tuxedo and feels sad, neglected even, by the sartorial conversation.
J.K.: In all seriousness though, I’d have to say I’d prefer to party in the nude, then a tux or a suit, then maybe a pool.
B.D.: So birthday suit, suit, bathing suit? I respect that.
J.K.: You know, I own a maroon, navy and gold velour suit? I went through a phase where I was really sympathetic for this kid in my grade who was going through a ghetto phase. Would you wear one of those?
B.D.: That’s definitely out there. Not as bad as denim though. I’d rather do anything before wearing all denim.
J.K.: How about patent leather? Like red patent leather, no shirt over jeans and a jean jacket.
B.D.: I mean, not fire truck red or candy cane red but crimson, sure.
Evan snores in agreement then wakes up and looks at his phone.
E.F.: Oh. Jackie’s at Wegman’s and she asked me if I want anything and I said maybe some chicken noodle suit. You guys suck.
B.D.: That’s awesome.
E.F.: I’m just kidding, you guys are cool. Plus I learned something today: A tuxedo can’t make a man sexy, but there’s nothing better than a sexy man in a tuxedo. I feel wiser than I’ve been in years, maybe ever.
Jacob Kose is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at email@example.com. Scrambled Eggs appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.