Morning dress, also known as 'formal day dress', is the formaldress code for day attire, consisting chiefly of, for men, a morning coat, waistcoat, and formal trousers, and an appropriate gown for women. Men may also wear a popular variant where all parts (morning coat, waistcoat and trousers) are the same colour and material, often grey and usually called "morning suit" or "morning grey" to distinguish it; considered properly appropriate only to festive functions such as summer weddings and horse races, which consequently makes it slightly less formal. The correct hat would be a formal top hat, or if on less spacious audience settings optionally a collapsible equivalent opera hat. The semi-formal counterpart of this code is the stroller.
Morning dress is now rarely worn as anything other than formal wear, as a form of civic dress, e.g., by provincial mayors (as an alternative to court dress), but more generally only for weddings, some official civic, governmental or royal functions, 'social season' events, e.g., races such as Royal Ascot (where it is obligatory in the Royal Enclosure) and at Epsom in the Queen's Stand on Derby Day, formal lunches (especially those in the City of London institutions, notably of the livery companies and guilds) and as uniform at some of Britain's most traditional schools such as Harrow (on Sundays) and Eton. It may also be seen sometimes worn at services in St Paul's Cathedral, London and St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Debrett's states that morning dress should not be specified as the dress code for events starting after 6pm ; if a formal event will commence at or after 6pm, white tie or black tie should be specified instead.
Morning dress with grosgain lapels, matching black waistcoat with a then-fashionable shorter skirt length, top hat, formal gloves, contrasting-top Oxford boots with punching across the toe cap, boldly striped long tie, striped shirt with contrasting white turn-down collar and cuffs, and striped formal trousers. The characteristic angle of the cutaway front of the skirt is clearly visible, as is the waist seam. (May 1901)
The name originated from the practice of gentlemen in the nineteenth century riding a horse in the morning with a cutaway front, single breasted morning coat. The modern twentieth century morning dress was originally a more casual form of half dress, but as the nineteenth century progressed it gradually became acceptable to wear it in more formal situations instead of a frock coat. In the Edwardian era it took over in popularity from the frock coat as the standard daytime form of men's full dress. When it was regarded as a more casual coat, it was common to see it made with step collars (notched lapels in American English), but as it took over from the frock coat in formality it began to be made with the more formal pointed lapels (peaked lapels in American English).
Morning dress consists of:
a morning coat (the morning cut of tailcoat), now always single breasted with link closure (as on some dinner jackets) or one button (or very rarely two) and with pointed lapels, may include silk piping on the edges of the coat and lapels (and cuffs on older models with turnup coat sleeves).
a waistcoat, which matches the material of the coat.
otherwise, a high detachable wing collar is worn with a single-cuffed shirt; this combination is always accompanied now by a formal Ascot, as opposed to a day cravat which is different. This is a more formal option most commonly seen at weddings;
a plain or patterned silk handkerchief or pocket square may be worn; it is folded and inserted into the front breast pocket of the morning coat.
black Oxford shoes or dress boots, or boots with a horse riding connection, such as George or Chelsea boot, or galosh-top dress boots; worn with plain dark socks (or another colour if they cannot be seen).
If the trouser cloth matches the coat, the ensemble becomes a morning suit. The waistcoat may also match, or not (an "odd waistcoat"). Morning suits will sometimes be a middle-tone grey. Morning suits, especially the lighter-toned ones, are considered slightly less formal than morning coat ensembles.
The following can optionally be worn or carried with morning dress:
a top hat, either classic silk plush, or a modern Melusine fur (replacement for silk plush, as it is no longer in mainstream manufacture). Alternatively, a top hat made of fur felt or wool felt, is another common option.
Men in morning grey suits at the races in Australia, in 1937
Formal wear by the Lord Mayor of Bruges, in Catholic procession and ceremonial
Considered slightly less formal by some, a morning suit can be worn in variant sometimes referred to as "morning grey dress", which has mid-grey matching morning coat, waistcoat, and trousers (all cut the same as above); being more relaxed, this is a traditional option for events in less formal settings such as Royal Ascot, and is now often worn to weddings as well.
The modern morning coat is single-breasted and usually has peaked lapels. It is usually closed with a single button but may have a link-front closure instead. It is traditionally in either black or Oxford greyherringbonewool, which should not be too heavy a weight, with curved front edges sloping back into tails of knee length.
The coat may feature ribbon braiding around the edges of the collar, lapels, and down around the tails; it may also be present on the hook vent, breast pocket, and sleeves. Nicholas Storey advises that braiding should be avoided for very formal morning wear.
Alternatively, a wing collar may be worn; the combination of long tie and wing collar is very dated, so these are instead paired with an Ascot. Unfortunately, this combination has acquired negative connotations because most dress hire companies have used pre-tied or incorrect patterns for many years, which has caused the configuration to be seen as an inferior or hired look. Consequently, Debrett’s (and the late Hardy Amies) consider the wing collar and Ascot to be inappropriate for weddings or morning dress, reserving wing collars for white tie.
The most formal colour for a shirt is white but, if a coloured or striped shirt is worn, it should have a contrasting white collar (and possibly cuffs). Traditional formal shirtings are usually light-coloured and may include cream, blue (such as Wedgwood blue), pink, lavender, peach, salmon, yellow, or pastel green. Morning dress shirts (other than the collar) are usually solid in colour or have thin vertical stripes but may have a slightly bolder pattern such as a houndstooth or glencheck.
In the Commonwealth of Nations, traditional black, or grey (less formal, but becoming more widely accepted), top hats are considered an optional accessory for weddings. However, hats remain compulsory in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.
Previously, a grey or (if at a funeral) a black neck-tie was obligatory. Now all colours are worn; in many clubs and societies the club tie is acceptable to distinguish members from guests at formal lunches and breakfasts. The original silver Macclesfield design (a small check) is still used particularly with cravats, and is often called a wedding tie. Wearing a silver-grey silk tie is the usual practise at Royal and other formal events. Although there is no longer a strict rule governing the colour and pattern of ties that are worn to weddings these days, garish options are inadvisable.
If worn, Cravats may be tied in either a formal dress knot (Ascot knot) which is secured with a cravat pin or a slightly less formal ruched knot which resembles a four-in-hand tie. A wing collar and cravat may be worn with a black coat but not with a grey one. Cravats have been proscribed in the Royal Enclosure at the Royal Ascot since 2012 and should therefore be treated with caution in any context in the UK and Commonwealth realms.
A pocket square should always be worn with morning dress. They may be made from linen, cotton, or silk. Whilst a simple white linen square with rolled edges is classic, they may instead be a solid colour or patterned and should always complement the neckwear.
In respect of ties and pocket squares, it is considered particularly elegant to pair one of those accessories, which is made from silk, with the other, made from a non-lustrous material such as linen or cotton. This helps to counterbalance the potential for affectations.
Although it is very common practice in wedding parties, many style authorities do not recommend matching a pocket square to a tie as it tends to look contrived, draw attention away from the wearer's face, and display sartorial uncertainty. Pocket squares with a solid colour should generally be paired with a patterned tie (and vice versa) and should not share the same base colour. If the pocket square is patterned, it should likewise not match the tie but instead complement it.
It may be puffed or folded into a square, single-point, or multi-pointed style folds. Puffed pocket squares work well with softer materials such as silk; other folds tend to hold their shape better when more structured materials such as linen are used.
The wearing of decorations, orders, and medals is uncommon with morning dress. An invitation will generally indicate whether or not they should be worn and, in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Realms, are more common for religious services or public functions of official significance. Up to four stars, one neck badge, and full-size medals should be worn with morning dress; when a neck badge and star are worn together, they must be of different orders.
Morning dress for women
Women should wear 'smart daywear', such as a smart day dress or a skirt worn with a jacket.
The straps of tops and dresses should be at least one inch wide even if worn with a jacket or other covering. Strapless, off-the-shoulder, one shoulder, halter neck, sheer, bardot, and spaghetti straps are not permitted in the Royal Enclosure at the Royal Ascot and may be inadvisable at other occasions that require morning dress.
Dresses and skirts should be neither too short nor too revealing. At their shortest, they should fall just above the knee.
Trouser suits and smart jumpsuits are permissible at the Royal Ascot but must be ankle length. With trouser suits, the coat and trousers should match in both material and colour. Jumpsuits must also comply with the regulations that apply to skirts and dresses.
At the most formal of occasions and the races, dresses and skirts should be worn with a tailored jacket. A bolero, shrug, or pashmina may otherwise be worn.
Daytime shoes, such as wedges, should be worn rather than very high heels or evening-style shoes and ought to be comfortable enough to wear for several hours. Tights should always be worn.
Hats should be worn in the Royal Enclosure at the Royal Ascot but are optional at weddings. They should be a style that is securely fitted and may be worn throughout the day.
Hats should neither be so large or cumbersome that they hamper kissing nor too small. The Royal Ascot does not permit fascinators within the Royal Enclosure. Headpieces may be worn instead of a hat but must have a solid base of at least 10cm.
Daytime jewellery, such as pearls, add an extra flourish of style.
A shoulder bag is often preferable to a clutch purse, especially for mothers at weddings.
Men in morning dress for a wedding (1929)
Men wear morning dress when members of a wedding party. In common with court dress, mess dress, and white tie, morning dress is for prestigious and important social occasions. Despite its name, morning dress may be worn to afternoon social events before five o'clock, but not to events beginning after seven o'clock in the evening; the term "morning" is best understood as "daylight".
In Europe, the groom sets the sartorial tone: the guests may wear morning dress if he does.
In fiction or popular culture, it may be used to refer, possibly satirically, to a rich ruling class, for example in cartoons.
White tie is the correct, equivalent formal dress for evening social events. The cutaway front of the morning tail coat differs from the evening tail coat (dress coat) in that the waist of the former is cut obliquely while the waist of the latter is cut horizontally, and the tail is cut differently from the swallow tailcoat used for evening dress. The skirt waist construction of the coats is equestrian in origin, to ease the wearer's riding his horse.
Commonwealth of Nations
In Britain, morning dress is worn to certain equestrian events (such as Royal Ascot and The Derby). In Australia, morning dress is the traditional dress for those attending the Victoria Derby. It is also worn in Commonwealth of Nations countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, by the male members of a wedding party. Men at upper and upper-middle class weddings usually wear their own morning coats and their own ties. On these occasions they may wear their old public (U.S.: private) school ties. It is occasionally worn by the British working class (constituting the majority of the population) for only the wedding party to wear morning 'suits'. These tend to be hired and far more co-ordinated than those worn by their upper-middle and upper-class counterparts. The men usually dress in identical, hired, outfits along with identical ties, handkerchiefs and waistcoats.
The stroller is a similar, but slightly less formal, dress code, hence not interchangeable with full morning dress. Where morning dress is the daylight equivalent of evening's white tie, the stroller is a formal revamp of the lounge suit and the daylight equivalent of black tie.
^Wyse, Elizabeth (2015). Debrett's Handbook. Mayfair, London: Debrett's Limited. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-9929348-1-1.
^Donald, Elsie, ed. (1981). Debrett's Etiquette and Modern Manners. London: Debrett's Peerage Limited. pp. 385–386. ISBN 0-905649-43-5.
^Antongiavanni, Nicholas (2006). The Suit. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-06-089186-2.
^Keers, Paul (1987). A Gentleman's Wardrobe: Classic Clothes and the Modern Man. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 105. ISBN 0-297-79191-5.
^Tuckerman, Nancy; Dunnan, Nancy (1995). The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversay Edition (1 ed.). New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-385413428.
This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.