When to wear a Morning Suit

When to wear a Morning Suit

When a Suit Won’t Do (and a Tuxedo Shouldn’t)




The tuxedo and tailcoat take their black colour from their after-dark surroundings and in this context they give their wearer a sense of elegance, power and even an air of mystery.  When worn in broad daylight, however, black suits look dull and lifeless and tend to make men’s faces appear ashen which is what makes them so appropriate for traditional funeral director attire!


While formal day coats are also usually black they are typically the only occurrence of ebony in morning dress (the traditional term for formal day wear).  Their somberness is offset by non-matching grey trousers – which are themselves enlivened with striped or checked patterns – and further livened up by the addition of tastefully coloured ties, waistcoats and even shirts.  The end result is an ensemble immensely more suitable for daylight and at the same time significantly more formal than a regular suit.


The purpose of this blog is simply to provide an introduction to the topic of morning dress.


Basic Etiquette

Generally, morning dress is meant for formal affairs held in the morning or afternoon.


Formal Morning Dress

As with evening dress, there are two categories of formal day dress.  The most formal version is by far the most popular and features a type of tailcoat known as a cutaway(morning coat in UK & Ireland).  The morning coat is worn by grooms, groomsmen and guests at formal church weddings and for formal daytime events in the presence of The Queen such as Royal Ascot and Trooping the Colour.


In America its appearance is largely limited to formal weddings prior to 6 o’clock and even then is extremely rare – although perfectly correct.










  • black is most formal
  • dark grey (“charcoal” or “oxford” grey) is also acceptable
  • flannel or worsted wool, plain or herringbone pattern
  • single-breasted, closing with one button (traditionally a link front)
  • curved cutaway front with tails that fall behind the knees
  • peaked lapels
  • welt breast pocket only (no waist pockets)


  • black-striped dark grey  material is most formal
  • grey houndstooth or herringbone is a less formal alternate
  • (some recommend these with grey coats)
  • cut for suspenders (high enough rise for waistband to be covered by the relatively short waistcoat)
  • one pleat down center of leg is traditional
  • no cuffs


  • light grey (“dove” or “pearl” grey)
  • creamy yellow (“buff”)
  • pale colours as an alternative
  • black is for mourning and certain daytime London functions
  • model can be:
  • single-breasted with or without lapels
  • double-breasted usually with lapels
  • white slips are optional (a piece of white cloth attached underneath each rever that creates the impression of an under-waistcoat)



  • turndown collar shirt is preferred:
  • white collar, preferably the stiff detachable kind
  • white or pale colour body (cream, blue, pink, white with blue stripes)
  • French cuffs
  • wing collar shirt although very formal is old-fashioned and acceptable only under the following specific conditions – and even then some still consider it “quite inappropriate” for weddings:
  • collar must be the high, stiff, detachable variety
  • must be worn with dress ascot
  • white fabric
  • can only be worn with black coat



  • four-in-hand tie with turndown collar
  • self-tie dress ascot (aka plastron, or dress cravat) with wing collar; not to be confused with informal day cravat


  • pale grey or silver in subtle patterns such as houndstooth or Macclesfield are most traditional, especially for groomsmen
  • pastel colors are acceptable alternative


  • well-polished black lace-ups, capped or plain toes
  • black button boots with cloth tops are old-fashioned alternative
  • black silk or cashmere hose is traditional, other fine fabric is acceptable


  • cufflinks
  • optional pocket watch and chain
  • single flower such as rose or carnation for wedding boutonnieres
  • Some suggest pale yellow chamois gloves with black coat, grey suede with grey coat; usually carried
  • optional white linen pocket square
  • optional walking stick or, preferably, tightly rolled umbrella



  • optional top hat (obligatory at Royal Ascot):
  • black silk is smarter and more formal but very hard to come by
  • grey felt with black band

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Bond Brothers Formalwear
8 Willowfield Park, Goatstown Dublin 14, Ireland