Evening elegance: Smoking jackets and dinner suits

160318-oliverbrown-amends-9405 There is nothing quite like heading out into a crisp winter evening, the cares of the day forgotten, savouring the prospect of the night ahead: fine food, equally fine wine, excellent company and refined, highly civilised pleasures. For gentlemen, the sense of anticipation is born the moment we lay out our black tie in all its simple, sophisticated and minutely well-judged glory. A crisp white shirt, a favourite pair of cufflinks and a beautifully cut, black or midnight blue suit of the finest pure wool, and we’re ready for a small, well-mixed drink while we wait for the cab to arrive and whisk us away. Then again, there is the related but rather different thrill associated with hosting such an evening oneself: the pleasures are similar but now they are allied to all the familiar comforts of home. On such an occasion, one might well swap the worsted for the warm, rich, Yorkshire-milled velvet of a smoking jacket. Descended from 17th-century Oriental dressing gowns, Oliver Brown’s navy, black, burgundy or green smoking jackets balance the requisite formality of an evening suit with the unmatched ease to which one is accustomed on one’s home turf. Whether classically styled or with an incomparably smart Nehru collar, the smoking jacket is just the ticket when one is enjoying that same, well-mixed drink - but on this occasion one is simply sitting back while the wine breathes, waiting for a cab full of friends to arrive.