What is a Morning Suit? - Rathbones Tailor

Posted in Morning Suits, Royal Ascot on Mar 28, 2023

What is a Morning Suit?

When it comes to men’s formal wear, the morning suit is the most formal of outfits for day time events (pre 6pm). Morning suits have been worn for centuries by aristocrats, gentry, and other upper-class men for formal daytime events such as weddings, horse races, and other special occasions. That’s all well and good but just what is a morning suit I hear you cry! Dry those eyes, cry no more as we explore the history of the morning suit and what it entails.

The morning suit is a three piece suit that comprises a morning coat or tailcoat, waistcoat, and formal trousers. The coat is typically made from wool or a wool blend, is single-breasted, and is identified by its long tails at the back. A waistcoat is worn underneath the tailcoat and comes in either single or double breasted styles. Finally, the trousers are made from the same material as the coat, typically in the same colour or a grey pinstripe.

For the history of the morning suit we travel back to the late 18th century, where it was known as a ‘frock coat.’ At this time, it was the standard get up for gentlemen in Britain, and was worn for both formal and informal occasions. However, by the 19th century, the frock coat had evolved into the morning coat/tailoat, which became the standard dress for formal daytime events. The name originated from the practice of gentlemen riding a horse in the morning with a cutaway front, single breasted morning coat.

One of the key reasons for the popularity of the morning suit was its versatility. It was the perfect choice for outdoor activities such as horse racing, as the long tails of the coat protected the rider from the dust and dirt kicked up by the horses. The morning suit was any equally suitable choice for formal events such as weddings and other social gatherings, where it conveyed a sense of sophistication and refinement. After all, who doesn’t want to convey a sense of sophistication and refinement?!

Over time, the morning suit evolved to reflect changing fashion trends. In the early 20th century, the coat became shorter, and the trousers became narrower. However, the basic elements of the outfit remained the same, and the morning suit continued to be worn by men of all classes for formal daytime events.

Today, the morning suit remains a symbol of elegance, sophistication, and refinement, and is often worn by grooms and other members of the wedding party. Most notable in recent years was David Beckham, pictured at the Royal wedding, donning his Dior Homme slate grey morning suit with grey double breasted waistcoat. Get the look here.

The morning suit is also worn by attendees of prestigious horse races such as Royal Ascot, where it is a mandatory dress code for men in certain areas such as the Royal Enclosure. King Charles, named best dressed man by Esquire in 2009, often sets the standards for dressing at this horse race meeting in his grey morning suit, pictured below.

So there we have it chaps, the morning suit. A classic and timeless outfit that has been worn by men for centuries. Whether you're attending a wedding or the races, the morning suit is the perfect choice for any gentleman looking to level up their outfit!