Gentlemen's clubs were places where men of high society in England gathered.
They first appeared in London in the 17th century.
Every respectable gentleman belonged to at least one club.
The 19th century saw an explosion in the popularity of clubs, particularly around the 1880s. At their height, London had over 400 such establishments.
Gentleman's clubs were private places that allowed men to relax and form friendships with other men.
By the 19th and 20th centuries, clubs were regarded as a central part of the lives of elite.
Clubs catered to a man's domestic needs. They were places to relieve stress and worries.
They provided emotional and practical needs. They provided spaces such as dining halls, library, entertainment and game rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and washrooms.
There was always a study and a smoking room, and sometimes, a gambling room.
Smoking in England has a long history, dating back to the 16th century. Tobacco was usually smoked in pipes, almost exclusively by men.
Over the years snuff taking and cigars were used, the latter taking hold after the Napoleonic Wars.
After the Crimean War of 1853-1956, cigarette smoking became popular. By the mid-1860s, cigarette shops were appearing and with the industrialisation of cigarette manufacture, the cigarette had come to stay.
The Wild Woodbine became one of the most popular cigarettes in the 1880s and the price dropped just a penny.
Through the last four decades of the 19th century, as a result of cheap and availability of cigarettes, the rate of tobacco consumption increased by 5 per cent per year.
Victorian smoking caps originated in the Middle East and Turkey - the kufi, the topi duppi, the tubeteika.
The anglicised caps were usually made of velvet and elaborately embroidered. British soldiers of the Crimean War brought Turkish cigarettes and cigars back home along with smoking caps.
The caps were a combination of a pillbox hat and a Turkish fez, decorated with Turkish and Russian braids and silks.
The caps soon became very popular in men's clubs. Smoking jackets had evolved from the longer robes of the 1600s into a mid-thigh length jacket that served two purposes: to keep ash off the smoker's clothes, and to prevent him from smelling strongly of smoke when returning to female company.
Men would remove their formal tailcoat before going into the smoking room, put on their smoking jacket, and change again before heading back to the table.
Many of the ladies' fashion publications of the 19th century devoted pages to fancy clothing designs for the refined Victorian gentleman, such as house robes, slippers and especially, smoking caps.
The smoking cap was the perfect gift for a young woman to embroider for her fiancé or for a wife to make for her husband.
The Whanganui Regional Museums newest exhibition - Dressed to Thrill - has three beautiful embroidered smoking caps on display as well as a sumptuous black velvet smoking jacket.
Fredrick John Upton, who opened his hat-making business in the Elephant and Castle district of London in the 1860s, made one of the caps.
His sons later joined the firm.
The smoking cap hardly survived the end of the 19th century, but the smoking jacket continued to be worn, often in place of the dinner jacket, as an informal coat for an evening at home.
While the smoking jacket was no longer a standard of a man's wardrobe, Hugh Hefner stood out.
After starting Playboy Magazine in the 1950s, he adopted his trademark silk smoking jacket.
He owned over 200 smoking jackets, custom-made for him. By the way, Fred Astaire was buried in his favourite smoking jacket.
•Kathy Greensides is collection assistant at the Whanganui Regional Museum.