The dude abided in Saratoga -- and he wore a dinner jacket

Berry_wall_and_his_dog-1.jpgThe next time you call someone "dude," you'll remember this.

Apparently one of the earliest uses of the word, back in 1883, did not describe a bro. The word was used as a put down for a man who paid too much attention to clothing and fashion. Yes, the opposite of the Dude.

It turns out that the "King of the Dudes" back then was a guy named Evander Berry Wall, a multi-millionaire who reportedly drank champagne instead of water, wore a walrus mustache, had 5,000 neckties -- and like many wealthy East Coasters of the day, spent a fair amount of time in Saratoga.

The dude was known for his fashion sense. It was a little over the top. His wardrobe included things like "loud checked suits and lavender spats."


And his wardrobe was famously extensive -- when he traveled he reportedly carried "more trunks than a prima donna." Saratoga financier and gambler John "Bet a Million" Gates, once bet Wall that he could not wear 40 changes of clothes between breakfast and dinner. Gates lost. [NYT]

Also in his wardrobe: a "dinner jacket" -- without tails (how unsophisticated). One of the first such jackets in the country, he'd gotten it from famous Saville Row tailor Henry Pool. At the time, dinner jackets were being worn in England for quiet dinners at home. On one of his visits to Saratoga, Wall wore the coat to the ballroom of the Grand Union Hotel -- the swankiest of the swanky Saratoga hotels -- and was thrown out for being under-dressed. He had to change into a tailcoat to be re-admitted. [NY Sun]

Not long after that, the dinner jacked was introduced to the upper crust resort development of Tuxedo Park, New York (there's some dispute over exactly how and by whom -- it involves either the Prince of Wales, a coffee magnate and his beatiful wife; or a rebel son of the Lorillard tobacco empire). And because of its introduction there, the type of dinner jacket -- which got Wall bounced in Saratoga -- became known as a "tuxedo." [Black Tie Guide]

photos via Wikipedia


I have at least 100 neckties- the Goodwill on Central Ave is a great place to find cheap vintage ones. I try to wear them too.

That's why it's called a "dude ranch" -- it's not meant as a compliment.

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine