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The difference between suits, morning coats & tailcoats

by Feb 1, 20220 comments

Welcome to Jacob Brian’s comprehensive guide on suits, morning coats and tailcoats and the dress codes for which they are required.
Is white tie dressier than a tailcoat? Can a morning coat be worn after 6pm? This is just some of the information you should be aware of when a customer requires a suit for formal occasion.

Suits

A suit is an absolute necessity when it comes to formal encounters. It’s your answer when you are looking for something to business meetings, weddings, formal dinners, job interviews, special first dates and other special formal
occasions. It can be something super formal or more casual depending on how you complete the look.

 

 

MORNING COATS

 

 

The Rules

The morning coat should fit snugly to the contours of the body.”The key to looking stylish is the fit” says CEO Rian Taylor.

In profile, the coat should make an S shape- cinching in at the waist and swooping out over your seat. ” With a morning coat you’re looking for that more than a normal suit” This is vital to stopping the morning coat looking like a shapeless box.

Don’s go for a plain black fabirc: A slight interest in the weave gives it a bit more depth and personality. The plainer cloths can look a bit ready-to-wear.

Never buy a morning coat with a notch lapel.”. The notch lapel was imported from the ordinary buinsess suit, a peak lapel is a more  elegant option.

The trousers should sit high, and the fabric should not pool around your ankles. Instead the legs should be just lomg enough to break once above the shoe. 

Your pocket square should be simple and elegant, nothing too bold or fussy. 

 

The general rule is that the tail should hang to just below the fold of the knee, but you are free to play with this. “The length really has a lot to do with the desired style and what’s good for your body shape.” If you want a more modern coat, you could veer shorter.

While striped trousers are the norm, houndstooth is also an option – and is actually no less traditional. “Younger guys are seeing houndstooth as more of a fashionable look.”

Go bespoke and wear something unique. Taylor recalls making a three-piece morning suit in pale gray that was cut away to look more like a tail coat. He has also done one in a tweed-like material with a shorter tail for a fashionable country look. The result is that the coat can be worn casually as well as at formal occasions.

 Menswear moves quickly. So quickly, in fact, that a wedding invite stamped with ‘morning dress’ once seemed traditional, conservative even. But thanks to a certain David Beckham in Dior, plus the fact that chances to really, properly smarten up are few and far between, black tie for the daytime has become one of wedding season’s most popular dress codes.

The exciting part is having a rare chance to showboat in old school finery. Decoding what this most formal dress code actually means is trickier. Whether you’re the groom, his best man or just part of the congregation, the key to nailing the morning suit is preparation. Here’s everything you need to know.

THE MORNING COAT

 

Chances are, most men have seen a morning suit of some shape or form: in passing as you flashed through a million photos of a royal wedding; perhaps when your Facebook feed turns into a matrimonial stew halfway through the summer.

A morning suit, also known as morning dress, is the traditional and time-honoured gentleman’s attire for formal events such as weddings, memorial services and daytime affairs in the presence of the monarch.

Many refer to the suit as ‘tails’, thanks to the distinctive swallow-tail rear of the jacket, which extends just below the knees. But in the trade, they’re known as “body coats”.

Naturally, a morning coat that’s tailored to your body shape is superior to anything you’ll find in the hire shop. The suit itself has three main components: a fitted coat, trousers, and a waistcoat.

The most important thing is that the tails should hang perfectly and not cross over, or splay apart. Your client will have their back to his guests throughout the ceremony, so make sure those tails are perfect.

 

WHITE & BLACK TIE DRESS

 

The white tie dress code explained

 

If you thought black tie was formal, you are in for a shock. Here are the rules for a white tie dress code

There are whole books dedicated to the rules of the white tie dress code. Here we will be looking at the important fundamentals that can’t be deviated from and avoiding more inane assertions such as making sure your shirt doesn’t come un-tucked and remembering to talk to people.

With this guide we will give you an informative, anxiety-easing walk through of precisely what white tie means, the differences between it and black tie, why it’s Billy Idol’s favourite type of wedding, as well as look at the otherwise quirky accessories accepted in white tie dress that encroach on period fancy-dress.

 

Black tie vs white tie: what’s the difference?

 

The black tie and white tie dress codes are set apart by levels of formality. To have a white tie dress code the event must be very important or indicate that the calibre of guests are titled, royal or have high social standing.

However, when it comes to the literal dress differences for men, you guessed it, a white bow tie is an absolute imperative and there are no deviations from this allowed. The other most obvious differences are that the waistcoat must be white and that evening tailcoats are required.

 

WHITE TIE & ELEMENTS OF THE SUIT

Can you wear a white tie to a black tie event?

You can wear white tie to a black tie event, since black tie is also known as “evening dress” and white tie falls into this category too. However, your client will probably be looking far more formal than most people and if it’s black tie optional, remember some people may even be wearing T-shirts. With the high formality of white tie, there is a risk of out-dressing your host, which is considered quite rude.

While it is fine to wear white tie to black tie events, just remember the reverse is never OK.

 

What to wear to a white tie wedding?

For a white tie wedding or a “white wedding”, the dress code is the same as traditional white tie. There is one slight leniency: if your clients wants to wear a normal tuxedo jacket, as opposed to tails, this would be more acceptable at a white wedding than other formal occasions (unless the people getting married are titled).

Our advice: stick to the agreed white tie dress if possible.

 

White tie etiquette

The fit of the outfit is a major pitfall at white tie events. If your customer’s suit fits well and looks in proportion, he will look more elegant and therefore more formal. If you keep the suit nicely fitted and follow our guide, then piecing together your client’s  white-tie outfit will be a veritable breeze.

Coat

Fit is key with a proper morning coat. That means it should be snug, but never tight, and sit well on the natural contours of the body. Notch-lapel versions do exist. But, if you’ve already come this far, you might as well go all out with a peak lapel. A little texture in the weave isn’t a bad idea either, and will add depth to the overall look (and allow your client to quietly stand apart from other off the peg morning suits).

 

Trousers

Not too long, not too short; trousers for morning dress should sit firmly within Goldilocks territory. They need to be lengthy enough to cover the ankle, but not so much that they cover your client’s shoe laces. Colour wise, they should either match the coat, or offer some subtle contrast – a black coat with charcoal trousers, for example.

 

Waistcoat

Traditionally, a morning dress waistcoat would be double breasted, but single can look just as good and doesn’t have the nasty habit of bunching up while seated. It should be slim fitting and long enough to cover the waistband of the trousers. Beige, grey and cream are the go-to colours but feel free to mix it up – within reason.

 Suits, Morning coats and tailcoats

We hope you enjoyed our blog and that we covered lots of useful information on the difference between suits, morning coats & tailcoats. Any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected]