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The Royal Wedding Dress Code: Uniforms, Morning Coats, or Lounge Suits

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.

Invitation to the Royal Wedding and Dress Code

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:

 

  1. Cutaway Tailcoat / Morning Coat:
    1. Black or Charcoal Grey
    2. Single Button Closure
    3. Peak Lapel
  2. Striped Trousers:
    1. Usually Grey with Black Stripes
    2. Checked are also permissible.
  3. Turndown Collar Shirt:
    1. White Collar
    2. White or pastel body
  4. Waistcoat (vest):
    1. Usually Grey or Light Yellow (“Buff”.)  Other pastels are also permissible.
    2. Single-Breasted or Double-Breasted, usually with lapels.
  5. 4-in-hand tie:
    1. Light grey w/ subtle pattern is most common.
    2. Light colors also permissible.
  6. Several optional accessories:
    1. Top Hat
    2. White Pocket Square
    3. Gloves
    4. Cane

 

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.”

Overview:

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.

For a more comprehensive look, check out The Black Tie Guide‘s supplemental section on Formal Morning Dress.

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!

Black Morning Coat: PM# C495

Black Morning Coat: PM# C495

Charcoat Morning Coat, PM# C490

Charcoal Morning Coat: PM# C490

Hickory Stripe Trousers: PM# PS47

Hickory Stripe Trousers: PM# PS47

White Turn-down Shirt: PM# STAP

White Turn-down Shirt: PM# STAP

Grey 'Noble' Vest: PM# VM490

Grey 'Noble' Vest: PM# VM490

Grey Ascot Cravat: PM# TA490

Grey Ascot Cravat: PM# TA490

Silver 'Heritage' 4-in-Hand Tie: PM# TF43S

Silver 4-in-Hand Tie: PM# TF43S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

About Michael Armstrong

Michael Armstrong is the resident staff writer for MyTuxedoCatalog.com, the web’s premiere resource for mens rental formal wear styles, news & information, and local listings. He aims to provide the most up to date industry and style information available, while sharing the many venues and ways that mens formal wear presents itself every day. Michael would like to take this opportunity to wish joy to the world, to all the boys and girls now. He’d also like to extend joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, but especially, joy to you and me.

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  • Maratop1990

    Let’s see:

    If I’m not mistaken, problem #1 is that quite a few gentlemen are not wearing striped formal trousers, which would be customary of Morning Dress.
    #2: James Middleton (in the fifth picture) is wearing a red tie, which is not pastel.
    #3: Nick Clegg (in the third picture) is wearing a very loudly striped business tie!

    • Anonymous

      Great job!

      1.)  Correct!  Not all of the men pictured above are
      wearing hickory striped trousers, as is traditional with morning dress. 
      While many of them are (even though you can’t tell in the pictures so
      well) not all of them are.

      2.) Correct Also!  James Middleton’s
      tie is a bit loud for morning dress.  While his position in the wedding
      does call for a little flashier interpretation of morning dress that the
      average wedding attendee, a pastel tie would have been more text book
      correct, while maintaining the youthful splash of color he was going
      for.

      3.) Correct too! Nick Clegg really wasn’t in traditional morning dress at
      all, rather a mix between a lounge suit (business suit) and morning
      dress.  The invitation called for Uniform, Morning Coat, or Lounge
      Suit.  He’d be perfectly suited in the latter if not for the cutaway
      coat instead of a more traditional stroller.  The presence of the
      cutaway coat makes several elements of his ensemble incorrect, including
      his loudly striped tie.  For morning dress, subtlety is almost always
      better.

      Congratulations, Maratop1990!  You deserve a Gold Star!  Whoo Hoo! 

      *Gives Gold Star*  :-)

  • Jamesdan

    ok

  • Will

    Shouldn’t  David Cameron’s waistcoat be, well… covering his waist?

    • MArmstrong

       Yes and no.  A waistcoat and a cummerbund serve the same purpose.  While that purpose IS to cover the waist, it’s more specifically to hide the awkward and often unflattering bunching that occurs around the waist where the shirt is tucked in.  There are different schools of thought regarding the optimum length, but they can all agree that hiding the shirt is the most important function of a waistcoat.  So long as his shirt stays hidden, a feat I would think difficult at that length, he’s still sartorially sound.

  • http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/ Sven Raphael Schneider

    Other than the Andrews & Pygott Guide, there is a new Morning Suit Guide with lots of in-depth information and great pictures that may be of interest.

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  • Parekh

    According to me the most good looking pictures would be of David Beckham and Posh. David looks dash in that coat. I never thought a morning coat could look so cool on anybody. I loved reading this article and checking out all the wonderful pictures.

    http://www.parekhcards.com/

 
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