Gentleman’s Query – Tailcoat

We regularly receive questions by readers about style, sources, clothes, etcetera, which we answer publicly our Gentleman’s Query category. Today, we have a question about a tailcoat.

T.T. wrote to us:

Dear Gentleman’s Gazette team,

I wanted to wish you a hearty congratulations on your one year!  I just saw the posting and I’m am looking forward to the new ideas you have for your magazine.

Also, I can’t get enough of the old Apparel Arts articles, so interesting and unique, I appreciate you sharing those!

Quick question, my boyfriend found a perfectly fitted tailcoat at a thrift store last weekend simply by chance. He did not get it because it did not come with the pants.  Though we are wondering, as a musician would it be alright if he just got the tailcoat and then went to a men’s clothier to find a pair of pants that match? What is the proper thing to do in this day and age?



Our reply:

Dear T.T.,

morning coat

Thank you for your kind words, we are glad you enjoy the Gentleman’s Gazette!

Regarding your tailcoat question, we should first distinguish between a morning coat and a evening tailcoat for white tie.

Although the morning coat is technically a tailcoat, it is commonly referred to as morning coat.

Charcoal Morning Coat

In case you found one of these coats in charcoal, and you are satisfied with the fit, then you should definitely buy it. Vintage morning coats are usually very well made and tailored from heavier cloth that drapes well.

Traditionally, it is worn with striped trousers but houndstooth or glenplaid trousers are also perfectly acceptable.

Light Grey Morning Coat

Morning suit  Prince Charles

These light grey coats are worn with matching trousers only and, therefore, I would advise not to buy it because it is very difficult to find trousers in the same color and fabric. The texture in combination with the right weight may be especially difficult to find.

Tailcoat – White Tie

Assuming you found an tailcoat for evening wear, I would also suggest not buying it unless you are willing to have a pair of bespoke trousers custom made for you.

It is very difficult to find matching trousers because of 1. the fabric and 2. the style.

Evening Trouser Fabric

While it is advantageous that the color range is generally limited to black or midnight blue, it is still very difficult to find a fabric that sufficiently matches the coat. Oftentimes, tailcoats were barathea, a very

Evening tailcoat
characteristic basket weave. If that’s the case, chances are you will find matching fabric in a cloth swatch book. However, it is quite a challenge to find even a vintage pair of pants with a very similar cloth, and you will most certainly not find any matching white tie pants off the rack.

Evening Trouser Style

Stylistically, trousers for white tie in the US and UK While have two braids: medium to slim-wide braids on each side, while tuxedo pants only have one. These braids can either match the material of the lapel facings or have a fancy pattern – this is up to you. Even if you find tuxedo pants with a single braid, you could get rid of the braid and have two sewn on instead, but that requires you finding the right braid, which is rather difficult.


Only if you or your boyfriend can afford to go bespoke, or at least Made to Measure you will have a fair chance to end up with a sufficiently matching pair of trousers for your tailcoat.

Best regards,

Arbiter Elegantiarum

4 replies
  1. Kerry says:

    “as a musician would it be alright if he just got the tailcoat and then went to a men’s clothier to find a pair of pants that match?”

    Musicians often need to wear tailcoats for work and finding a good one that gives enough movement in the armholes can be a challenge. Look for one with a high armhole and if you can afford to, go for bespoke. It is an investment and will pay off in the long run and allows the arms more movement. The tailor can cut the sleeves with some extra movement in, according to the instrument he plays.

    As for matching trousers to a coat, there are many slight variations to black cloth in both colour and weave and finding a good match can be tricky. The traditional cloth is Barathea and gives a deep rich black but many RTW tailcoat cloths are a plain weave. Good luck in your search.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Kerry,
      Thanks for your comment. Most vintage tailcoats I have come across had rather high armholes.
      Generally, I think every kind of coat should have a high armhole. In the past, conductors or musicians sometimes had special sleeves that would look good when in motion but not so neat when just standing still… Personally, I would not like that but each to his own.

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