► Morning Dress in Detail
This page is only intended as an introduction to the
topic of morning dress. For complete details be sure to visit
The Morning Dress Guide or
Andrews & Pygott:
The Morning Dress Guide.
Detachable-collar morning-dress shirts.
Examples of black, gray and silver patterned
four-in-hands that the English refer to as "wedding ties".
day top hat can be
black silk or gray felt. At weddings they should never be worn
in church or in formal photographs.
The Dress Ascot
Americans should not confuse the dress ascot (dress
cravat in UK) that ties
outside a buttoned shirt collar with the ordinary ascot (cravat
in UK) that ties inside an unbuttoned collar. If you
insist on wearing a cravat (most experts advise against
it) then at least make sure it's
self-tied. Click the image
for instructions on tying a cravat the traditional way and
with the modern ruche knot.
The waistcoat must be coordinated with the morning
coat so that the former extends only slightly below and
above the latter.
Morning Dress Around the World
Outside of the UK, morning dress is most likely to be seen in monarchies
such as Luxembourg, Holland and Japan. In Germany the stroller is known as a Stresemann
after the Chancellor who first popularized it in the mid
1920s. In some other countries it is known as a
director's jacket based on its traditional role as
attire for members of corporate boards of directors.
Morning Dress: Formal Day Wear
When a Suit Won’t Do (and a
Many North Americans visit
this site for guidance in assembling a traditional black-tie
ensemble for their afternoon wedding only to discover that such attire is
inappropriate for daytime functions. This comes as a disappointing
shock to fiancé(e)s who have been conditioned to believe that no
wedding is truly formal unless the groomsmen are clad in
tuxedos. However, our British cousins know better.
Like most formalwear
etiquette, the proscription against donning evening wear during the
day is not simply an arbitrary custom but a matter of aesthetic
logic. The tuxedo and
tailcoat take their black color from their after-dark surroundings
and in this context they imbue their wearer with elegance, power and
even an air of mystery. When
worn in broad daylight, however, black suits look dull and lifeless
and tend to make (Caucasian) men’s faces appear ashen which is what
makes them so appropriate for traditional funeral director attire.
Conversely, while formal day
coats are also usually black they are typically the only
occurrence of ebony in morning dress (the traditional term for
formal day wear).
Their somberness is offset by non-matching gray trousers –
which are themselves enlivened with striped or checked patterns –
and by the addition of tastefully colored ties, waistcoats and even
shirts. The end result is an
ensemble immensely more suitable for daylight and
delightfully more open to personalization than a tuxedo is, yet at
the same time significantly more formal than a regular suit.
It is no wonder this genteel
tradition remains commonplace in Britain and at the same time perplexing that
it became highjacked in America.
Generally, morning dress is meant for formal affairs held in the
morning or afternoon. Special considerations for weddings that
begin in the afternoon and continue into the evening can be found in
Formal Evening Weddings page.
Formal Morning Dress
As with evening dress,
there are two categories of formal day dress.
The most formal version is by far the most popular and
features a type of tailcoat known as a cutaway (morning
In Britain it is worn by grooms, groomsmen and guests at
formal church weddings and for formal daytime events in the presence
of The Queen such as Royal Ascot and Trooping the Colour.
In America its appearance is
largely limited to formal weddings prior to 6 o'clock and even then is extremely rare –
although perfectly correct.
(cutaway / morning coat)
· black is
· dark gray
("charcoal" or "oxford" gray) is also acceptable
or worsted wool, plain or herringbone pattern
single-breasted, closing with one button (traditionally a
curved cutaway front with tails that fall behind the
welt breast pocket only (no
black-striped dark gray material is most formal
houndstooth or herringbone is a less formal alternate
authorities recommend these with gray coats)
cut for suspenders (high enough
rise for waistband to be covered by the relatively short waistcoat)
one pleat down center of leg is traditional
color can be:
gray ("dove" or "pearl" gray)
(although Debrett's says it is now only for
certain daytime London functions)
colors as an alternative
model can be:
with or without lapels
usually with lapels
white slips are optional (a piece of white cloth
attached underneath each rever that creates the impression
of an under-waistcoat)
turndown collar shirt is preferred:
collar, preferably the stiff detachable kind
or pale color body (cream, blue, pink, white with blue
wing collar shirt although very formal is
old-fashioned and acceptable only under the following specific
conditions – and even then some authorities still consider it "quite inappropriate" for weddings:
· collar must be the high, stiff, detachable variety
be worn with dress ascot
· white fabric
· can only be worn with black coat
(aka plastron, or dress cravat in the UK)
with wing collar; not to be confused with informal day cravat
· pale gray
or silver in subtle patterns such as houndstooth or
are most traditional, especially for groomsmen
pastel colors are acceptable
well-polished black lace-ups, capped or plain toes
black button boots with cloth tops are old-fashioned
black silk or cashmere hose is
traditional, other fine fabric is acceptable
optional pocket watch and chain
single flower such as rose or carnation for wedding
Debrett's suggests pale yellow chamois gloves with black coat,
gray suede with gray coat; usually carried
optional white linen pocket square
optional walking stick or, preferably, tightly rolled
optional top hat (obligatory at Royal Ascot):
· black silk
is smarter and more formal but very hard to come by
· gray felt
with black band
In Britain the morning
suit is a less formal version of morning dress appropriate for races
and summer weddings.
This suit differs from formal morning dress only in that the
cutaway, trousers and waistcoat are constructed from the same
light or mid-gray material. Note that the term is often used
as a synonym for morning dress although technically this is incorrect as only a
jacket and trouser of matching fabric are by definition a "suit".
(The word is derived from the French suite which means “to
follow” as in the trouser fabric following the precedent of the coat
The morning suit is not worn
in countries outside of the UK.
Semi-Formal Morning Dress
Just as the suit-like
dinner jacket was an informal replacement for the evening tailcoat,
the suit-like stroller (black lounge in UK) rose
to popularity on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1920s as a less
formal replacement for the morning tailcoat.
But whereas the dinner jacket eventually supplanted the
tailcoat as formal evening attire, the stroller faded into obscurity
after World War Two leaving the morning coat as standard formal day
wear. Although rarely
seen today this alternative remains equally acceptable, and arguably more
much more versatile.
1. jacket (stroller /
suit-like jacket in same colors as morning coat
double-breasted, single with one, two or three buttons
usually peaked lapels
but notch acceptable
no vent or two side vents
formal morning dress although there is more
latitude for informal patterns
as per formal
formal turndown collar shirt although detachable collar
is not as important
as per formal morning dress
optional black homburg or
Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style, Emily Post's
Etiquette (2004 edition), A Well-Dressed Gentleman’s Pocket Guide,
Debrett's A-Z of Modern Manners, Men’s Style: The Thinking Man’s
Guide to Dress, History of Men’s Fashion: What the Well-Dressed Man
is Wearing, Mr. Jones’s Rules and
The Indispensible Guide to Classic Men's Clothing.
A very formal interpretation of morning dress.
A more youthful and colorful take on formal day wear.
The components of formal morning dress as broken down into the same
categories used to define
The "morning suit" is a less formal version of traditional
The stroller is worn for
semi-formal day occasions with generally the same accoutrements as the