White Tie at the Holy See

The Inauguration Mass For Pope Francis

(Europa Press | Getty)

It’s rare enough for White Tie to be worn to any diplomatic occasion these days but rarer still to see it worn as per Vatican protocol: in broad daylight and with a black waistcoat.  The replacement of the usual white waistcoat may well be related to the proscription of white dresses at papal audiences for any woman other than a Catholic queen.  It would appear that this symbol of purity is otherwise reserved solely for the pontiff.

Tailcoats are only required of certain diplomats and at certain occasions such as a papal inauguration Mass (like the one for Pope Francis seen in the photo above) or the pope’s annual new year’s address to the Holy See diplomatic corps.  In any other circumstances a simple dark suit will suffice for an audience with the Holy Father.

Thanks to reader Don Jon for suggesting this post.

8 Comments

  1. John Van Wyk

    Thank you for this post and for the picture. Who is the lady in the photo?

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      Unfortunately Getty Images doesn’t identify the people in this particular photo.

      Reply
      1. Jiohn Van Wyk

        Thank you. They look good, anyway.

        Reply
      2. Dr Kilroy

        Isn’t it the President of Argentina by any chance?

        Best regards, Dr

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          No. she’s the Mexico First Lady

          Reply
          1. John Van Wyk

            Thank you, Anonymous.

  2. Somerset

    Is this not simply an example of court dress rather than of evening dress worn in the day time? Perhaps the difference is one of semantics.

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      Yes, it would appear that Court Dress does not distinguish between day and evening functions.

      Reply

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