What exactly is morning wear? If you get an invitation that states this dress code, we’ve got you covered!
Morning dress is a unique garment in the sense that it is cut away and it’s called a morning coat. It is not the tail coat or the penguin which you know from evening wear and that’s only appropriate for white tie.
Wearing a morning coat is still popular for society weddings in Europe or in England. It’s mostly underutilized in the US yet, for horse races and other events, you can still wear it. If the dress code says formal day wear, it means the same thing, you should wear a morning coat ensemble. Just like black tie and white tie, the morning coat dress code is very detail-oriented and I could spend an hour talking about every little detail.
Morning Wear In A Nutshell
The Morning Coat
You want a morning coat that is cut away in the front. It’s usually in black or in dark gray, kind of a light texture such as herringbone but plain is okay as well. In general, you have peak lapels or notched lapels and it is worn with striped trousers. Usually, they’re in colors of black, charcoal, grey, and maybe a fleck of white. Often, they are referred to as cashmere stripe, they’re the most popular. You could also go with solid pants if you want to or small patterns such as houndstooth. Just make sure there’s enough contrast to the morning coat.
With the morning coat, you never wear a belt, but always suspenders, that way, everything stays up. You can either wear single-breasted waistcoats or double-breasted ones, I like double-breasted ones because they go with the look of the open morning coat, they’re a little more special, and that’s exactly the right thing when you wear such a unique garment. Traditional colors of the waistcoat include dove gray or buff which is a form of chamois yellow, however, you can also go with maybe red or blue, it’s really up to you and what style you want to set.
In general, I would suggest never to have more than two different colors in a morning coat ensemble, otherwise, it’s not formal enough.
Morning Wear Accessories
Traditionally you’d wear a white detachable wing collar with an ascot, a formal Ascot, that you could either tie just like a cravat or in a typical formal ascot style with a tie pin. It’s very difficult to find these formal ascots however, it’s really fun to wear especially if you like the vintage look or the most traditional of all looks.
Of course, if you go with a tie, a regular turndown collar shirt with French cuffs is ideal. Button cuffs are always too informal so make sure you could wear cufflinks with it. Other than formal Ascot or a regular tie, you can also go with a bow tie. Again, the same kind of patterns in silver and black are good. If you want to be over-the-top loud, you can also go with something more colorful.
Black Shoes Is Non-Negotiable
If you want to wear shoes, I suggest you go with plain black shoes such as black cap toe oxfords, you can also go with balmoral boots, and ideally, you want to have something with a contrasting insert, maybe in suede or fabric, or it can all be in black. If you want to have a very traditional look, you can also go with button boots made out of black leather and then a contrasting colored insert. No matter what Footwear you choose, go with dark socks that work with the color of your pants. You can either go with solid gray or charcoal, ideally, with some clocks on the side, that’s very formal, very nice, very appropriate for morning dress.
Personally, I don’t own a morning suit and they’re really not necessary. It’s just for people who attend morning wear events regularly and want to be special in a subtle and unique way. If you’ve ever seen a dress code, day wear or formal day wear, it’s the equivalent of evening wear or formal evening wear. So for white tie, the equivalent is the morning coat. For the black-tie, the equivalent is the stroller suit also known as the Stresemann in Europe.
In order to get the Stresemann look, all I have to do is simply to swap out the regular morning coat for a black jacket. It’s typically single breasted with peak lapels with one or two closing buttons, no flaps but jetted pockets, and it’s a less flashy version because it’s still a regular suit jacket but it’s still quite formal and you can wear it as a groom to your own wedding or as a guest because it’s formal without being over-the-top and stealing the show from the bride and groom.
Now that you know what it takes to pull off a morning wear attire, you will never look out of place on your next formal day event. Be sure to check our other dress code guides in case you are struggling to put together appropriate and timeless outfits for the big events that you are invited to!