This is an example of a formal evening dress which would have been worn to smart dinners, the theatre and other fashionable evening entertainments. It was important at this period to be properly dressed in public and private. A fashionable man needed clothes to suit all occasions, both work and leisure. This meant that he sometimes had to change his outfits six or seven times in the space of a day.
In 1888 the dinner jacket was introduced for more informal evening wear. Unlike the evening dress suit, which was cut with tails, the back of the dinner jacket was cut whole. Since then evening dress has altered very little. Any stylistic changes were very subtle, affecting details such as the length and width of the lapels or the fullness of the trousers. The jacket of this evening suit still has the 'button stand' around the outer edge of the lapels. This is a feature that disappeared in the 1890s.