When it comes to weddings, no man is more concerned about what to wear than the groom. Back in the day, choice of wedding attire would be determined by what time of day the ceremony was held. If it were hosted in the morning or around noon, a morning coat was a gentleman’s choice, whereas a tailcoat was reserved for late afternoon and evening weddings. In either case, the long tails were supposed to be the equivalent of the bride’s train.
Today, very few men will wear either a morning coat or a tailcoat to their wedding. In the US, grooms often choose to wear a tuxedo for a daytime ceremony, although this garment was traditionally reserved for evening events. In my opinion, it might be worthwhile to look at another, almost forgotten garment: the Stresemann. This suit combination is similar to a stroller and basically is a less formal substitute for a morning coat. (For more detailed information about formal men’s daywear, you should not miss the Morning Dress Guide, which is the ultimate resource on the matter.)
History of the Stresemann Stroller Suit
Since garments evolve over time, it is very rare to be able to say with certainty when the “birthday” of a particular garment was. In the case of the Stresemann, this is one of those rare exceptions.
On December 1st, 1925, the Treaties of Locarno were formally signed in London. As this was a political event of high importance, the dress code dictated proper morning dress which included a morning coat. Despite that, the then-German foreign secretary, Gustav Stresemann, decided to wear a black single-breasted lounge coat instead of a morning coat. Following this event, many Germans imitated Stresemann and also wore black lounge coats instead of their morning attire. Within a short time, this way of dressing became known as the Stresemann.
Originally, the Stresemann consisted of a black, ventless, single breasted lounge coat with jetted pockets, a waistcoat made from the same material as the coat, and a pair of grey-black striped trousers without cuffs. The shirt had a stiff (starched) wing collar and was worn with a regular tie. Soon after its introduction, a soft turndown collar was often substituted for the the stiff collar. Moreover, there were some men who decided to wear their Stresemann with piping on the edges of the coat which made it even more formal than without piping. There were even hats designated to be worn with the Stresemann: the bowler and the Eden.
After a few years, the Stresemann had become so popular in Germany that it was often worn on occasions that formerly required full morning dress. Hence, it is not surprising that certain things that were usually worn with traditional morning dress, like a silver-grey tie or light grey waistcoat, were now worn with the Stresemann as well.
In the 1950s, both the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, and the first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, wore the Stresemann quite frequently on formal occasions. Consequently, the newspapers began to call this outfit Bonner Anzug, that is, “suit of Bonn,” because Bonn was the capital of Germany at the time.
The Stresemann Suit Today
In modern-day Germany the expression Bonner Anzug is obsolete and Stresemann is the only way to refer to this kind of stroller suit, even though it is not often seen. If you do spot one of these outfits, it is still very similar to the original Stresemann.
First, it consists of a black or charcoal single breasted lounge coat with peaked or notched lapels. Peaked lapels are more formal, just as jetted pockets are more formal than welted or flapped pockets on such a garment.
Second, the trousers are cuffless and either striped in grey-black or patterned in houndstooth, or glencheck without overcheck. (A pair of plain light grey trousers will probably work just as well.) The waistcoat is either made out of the same cloth as the lounge coat or possibly in linen of colors like buff or dove grey. Combined with a shirt, silver tie, black oxford shoes and cufflinks it can look very handsome. Alternatively, one could also wear a black bow tie or any other dark bow tie, e.g. a Lipton bow tie (navy blue with white polka dots). In any case, there are many possibilities to express one’s individuality with a Stresemann.
The Stresemann and the Stroller are very similar except that a Stresemann coat is always single-breasted, whereas the Stroller coat may be single or double-breasted.
The Stresemann & Stroller – Ideal Wedding Attire
Just like traditional morning dress, if a Stresemann is chosen for a wedding, it should only be worn in the morning or the afternoon but not in the evening. Thus, the groom should buy a matching pair of black or charcoal pants for the evening, so he can quickly change in the afternoon and still be properly dressed for the dinner reception. With two pairs of pants and a lounge coat, one will have plenty of opportunities for future wear: the dark suit can be worn frequently even after the wedding, at the office or on formal occasions. Additionally, the Stresemann is not only suitable for the groom, but also for a wedding guest. As you can see, a Stresemann is not just an elegant garment but also a great investment for your wardrobe.
Here, you can find out more about the Stresemann Stroller outfit and its appropriateness as a wedding suit.
The attached gallery shows Stresemann outfits by Gustav Stresemann himself from the 20s, and others from the 30s, the 50s as well as from 2010.
The two pictures of Gustav Stresemann as well as the two linked pictures from Adenauer and Heuss are property of the Deutsches Bundesarchiv.