The Royal Wedding: The Art of Formal Morning Dress
If you’re reading this (and you are), there’s a good chance you’ve already been following the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Chances are good that you already know all about how Catherine’s Dress is changing perspectives in the bridal industry.
It’s even possible that you or somebody you know was up at a pitifully early hour to watch the spectacle of a full-blown Royal Wedding and all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it.
But because you’re reading THIS post on a site dedicated to mens formal wear, I’ll hazard a guess that it isn’t the dresses or the spectacle you’re wondering about; it’s all those morning coats.
The dress code for the occasion was specified as “Uniform, Morning Coat, or Lounge Suit.” In short, if you have an appropriate uniform, wear it. Otherwise, full Morning Dress Code applies. Great! Wonderful.
Now, what exactly is that again? I’m glad you asked.
What is a Royal Uniform?
For very formal occasions wherein many members of the British Monarchy are to be in attendance, it’s most traditional for royalty to wear their ceremonial uniforms. While Prince William later donned a double breasted tuxedo coat for the after affairs, prior and during the wedding ceremony he wore his royal uniform, as did the other men in the Royal Family.
Too early for a tuxedo? Wear a Morning Coat!
In today’s North American culture, “Tuxedos” have basically become synonymous with “Formal Wear” for men. The truth behind the tradition, however, is that “Formal Wear” is a much more encompassing term.
Tuxedos as we know them are specifically designed and intended to be worn as evening wear, after the hour of 6:00 pm. As such, they are traditionally not appropriate for daytime use. The correct formal dress code for daytime formal functions is commonly knows as “Morning Dress.” The following is a very summarized breakdown of the the formal elements that Morning Dress incorporates:
- Cutaway Tailcoat / Morning Coat:
- Black or Charcoal Grey
- Single Button Closure
- Peak Lapel
- Striped Trousers:
- Usually Grey with Black Stripes
- Checked are also permissible.
- Turndown Collar Shirt:
- White Collar
- White or pastel body
- Waistcoat (vest):
- Usually Grey or Light Yellow (“Buff”.) Other pastels are also permissible.
- Single-Breasted or Double-Breasted, usually with lapels.
- 4-in-hand tie:
- Light grey w/ subtle pattern is most common.
- Light colors also permissible.
- Several optional accessories:
Finally, Lounge Suits:
You’ve taken in a lot of information today, so I’ll just make this bit simple. A “Lounge Suit” is basically just a suit. If the invitation were written in America, it would have called for “Dress Uniform, Cutaway, or Suit”, so don’t let the word “Lounge” throw you off. The distinction hails from a time when business and important socializing was still conducted in morning dress, so another less formal style was named specifically for daytime “lounging.”
Now you’ve got a grasp on the basics. But, as many authorities will tell you, there is an art to good Morning Dress etiquette.
To delve even deeper into this often overlooked sartorial art form, check out The Morning Dress Guide.
Below are some examples of traditional Morning Attire being worn by the attendees of the Royal Wedding. Take note of the commonalities in everyone’s ensemble, but also the subtle ways each man is able to personalize his look.
Armed with your newly acquired sartorial wisdom, see if you can determine who is wearing “To-the-T” correct morning dress, and who is not. List your critiques in the comments section below. A Gold Star Award* will be awarded to the first person that can accurately list 3 separate mistakes in the pictures listed below.
Where to Rent Morning Suits and Accessories:
If you’re planning your own daytime wedding, consider these styles from our rental catalog for your own special day!
For a little more clarity, check out the below video from www.thefeast.com, wherein a British-born bespoke master breaks down some royal formal tradition.
View more videos at: http://www.thefeast.com.
*Gold Star Awards are basically us saying “Hey! Good job! You deserve a Gold Star! Whoo Hoo!” If you’re holding out for anything else, well… don’t hold out for anything else.