I really had a difficult time to understand this. It comes from a book I am reading, and it is used to describe a concept the author speaks highly of.

Does it mean that something is very special? Or what?

  • Is there any more context? If it is used to describe a concept... – Tyler Kropp Jul 25 '15 at 5:08
  • Yeah, the author admires this concept a lot... – Larry Lee Jul 25 '15 at 5:14
  • Cat's formal wear – Jimmy Jul 25 '15 at 5:31
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    This is almost certainly a play on the idiom "the cat's pajamas," but with a glitzy, uptown twist. I'm doing some Internet searches for it now. – Sven Yargs Jul 25 '15 at 6:02
  • @Larry Lee Please add a quote from the book that describes the cat. What color is the cat? Does he have a large patch of white on his chest? I think if you give a good description of the cat, the meaning will become clear. – ab2 45 mins ago – ab2 MonicaNotForgotten Jul 25 '15 at 6:50

Aside from two matches to a Tumblr page with the name "The Cat's Evening Wear," a Google search returns the following six readable matches for the phrase. From a September 8, 2004, post at RoadbikeReview.com:

My SO is the cat's evening wear, but useless when it comes to bike related anything.

From a September 21, 2006, comment posted at Threadless.com:

Esoteric humor is the cat's evening wear.

From a September 29, 2008, comment posted at Aberdeen-Music.com:

I'm all about Micah P Hinson today. His cover of Yard of Blonde Girls is the cat's evening wear.

From a June 29, 2009, comment posted at InsideSTL.com:

Drumsticks are the cat's evening wear. I like the ones with crushed peanuts on them.

And from a July 17, 2015, post at github.com:

We've seen what pure functions are and why we, as functional programmers, believe they are the cat's evening wear.

What these instances have in common is obvious admiration for the thing they identify as the cat's evening wear. This reflects a clear kinship to "the cat's pajamas" (presumably later-in-the-night cat's wear). J.E. Lighter, Random House Dictionary of Historical Slang (1994), has this entry for cat's pajamas, which it finds instances of going back to 1922:

cat's pajamas n. something that is extraordinary, esp. splendid or delightful.—constr[ued] with the. {Unlike CAT'S MEOW, this phrase sometimes expresses annoyance or amazement.}

Barbara Kipfer & Robert Chapman, Dictionary of American Slang, fourth edition (2007), reports that "cat's pajamas" is itself a variant of "cat's meow" and that both terms mean the same thing: "Something or someone that is superlative." It also offers this note on the origin of the phrase:

{1920+; the entry form [cat's meow] and pajamas are said to have been coined by the cartoonist and sports writer Tad Dorgan, who died in 1929}

The main emotion associated with "the cat's evening wear" is delight, and that seems true of "the cat's pajamas," as well. The few online matches for "the cat's evening wear" suggest that it remains a relatively rare variant of "the cat's pajamas," but anything can happen in the world of slang.

  • Good job Sven!! – W9WBH Jul 25 '15 at 7:28
  • @Sven Yargs Good job, I learned a lot from this....and I am a cat person. I had jumped to the conclusion that the author meant a tuxedo cat, which is a common term for black cat with a large, broad patch of white on his chest. – ab2 MonicaNotForgotten Jul 25 '15 at 13:50

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