In this article, we’ll be discussing formal daytime attire, also known as “morning dress.” We’ll talk about the history of the dress code, its modern applications, and break down the individual garments included.
A extremely formal dress code, the morning suit is characterised by its top coat and tails. While it’s somewhat obscure in the USA, it’s particularly popular for weddings in the United Kingdom.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re already experienced with the dress code, this guide will highlight the details of the morning suit so you can wear it properly.
Use the menu below to jump ahead:
- What Is Morning Dress?
- Morning Dress History & Present Day
- Overview Of The Morning Dress
- Renting Vs Buying A Morning Suit
Alternatively, scroll down to keep reading.
How To Wear A Morning Suit
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What Is Morning Dress?
Also known as “formal day dress,” morning dress is daytime’s white tie equivalent. It’s pretty rare in the United States but is still seen in England for formal weddings, formal memorial services, and official functions, particularly when in the presence of the Queen.
The most common shade of grey worn is referred to as “morning grey,” which is a shade of medium grey much lighter than an evening shade of grey, such as charcoal.
The key detail to morning dress is the “morning coat,” which bears similarity to a white tie tailcoat in that it has sloping front panels and finishes with tails in back. Its semi-formal brother is known as a “stroller.”
History Of Morning Dress & Its Place In The Present Day
The modern morning coat was, interestingly, considered a form of “half dress” in the early 19th century, being seen as a more casual alternative to the now-defunct frock coat. Much like the lounge suit went from country wear to acceptable city wear, the morning coat replaced the more formal frock coat towards the end of the nineteenth century.
It was at the point that it took the frock coat’s place as the standard daytime form of men’s full dress that peaked lapels were added to the jacket. This gave it a more formal, regal appearance. When it was more casual, notched lapels were common on morning coats.
Breaking It Down: The Components Of Morning Dress
Black matte or grey morning coat, single-breasted with peaked lapels
Morning Suit Trousers
Grey or grey-and-black striped. Pleated or plain-front versions are seen, though cuffs (turn-ups) aren’t appropriate.
Morning Suit Shirt
White or light-colored shirt with French cuffs and a turndown collar are acceptable.
Morning Dress Waistcoat
Buff, dove grey, or duck egg blue in single- or double-breasted, with double-breasted being more popular.
Single-breasted vests may have a notched lapel or no lapel, while double-breasted vests may have peaked lapels or a shawl collar. Single-breasted vests lowest button should remain undone while double-breasted vests should stay fully buttoned.
Vests should not be backless.
Fancy waistcoats may be worn at events like weddings but are generally limited to members of certain elite groups, such as the Eton Society.
Morning Suit Ties
A woven silk tie is the standard, with solids or fancy neats being preferable. Ascots are acceptable and more traditional, but neckties are far more common. Tie pins are a way to add a dandyish touch.
Morning Dress Shoes
Renting Versus Owning Your Morning Dress Clothes
Our guide to black tie attire has an in-depth discussion on renting versus owning. We typically advise that it’s worth buying a tuxedo, but we don’t advise owning a morning coat and its associated kit. That is, unless you attend enough daytime formal events to warrant such a purchase. This last point is largely dictated by the country in which you reside: England or the United States.
In the United States, it is extraordinarily rare to see men in morning dress. Americans have an unfortunate habit of wearing (rented) tuxedos during the day for weddings, and it doesn’t look like they will be broken of that habit anytime soon.
Britons, on the other hand, wear morning dress more often and thus should seriously consider buying the outfit if they wear it at least once a year.
Should you decide to buy one, a bespoke tailor will offer you your best bet in terms of sartorial guidance and, obviously, superior fit. Certain RTW retailers offer morning dress as well, though be wary of the details they offer on the garments. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money only to be dressed incorrectly.
If you are ever invited to an event where “morning dress” is the dress code, we strongly encourage you to attend. Rearrange your schedule if you need to! It’s not often that you’ll have such an opportunity, especially if you’re an American.
With that said, make sure you’re conscious of the right details. Dressing well in a formal dress code is just as much about looking “correct” as it is looking good.
For more information on dress codes and suiting in general, take a look at our suits home page.
Now that you have read our guide to the morning dress code, consider reading some of our related content:
- How To Wear A Suit For A Job Interview
- What Is Black Tie Optional?
- What To Wear At Weddings?
- Best Online Made-to-Measure Suits
- Suit Homepage
"Invited to a morning dress event for the first time. I didn't know anything about this dress code so I'm grateful for this guide. Thank you."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★