Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Men in Morning: A Happy Alternative to Men's Daytime Formal Dress

I really like this "morning dress" look!

With Emma's encouragement, I am beginning to learn about the options for men's formal dress.  Unless your wedding is in the evening, the appropriate dress for the groom and groomsmen is not a tuxedo--in the UK anyway.  We Americans have pretty much abandoned such rules, but it's good to know there are some elegant alternatives to the standard tux.

The most interesting thing I learned is that a morning suit (where the coat, pants, and vest are all from the same fabric) is considered more casual than the morning dress "ensemble".  I thought it would be the opposite.   

Now what do you do with this information?  Are there "morning dress" rental shops?  I searched the websites of the two tuxedo rental firms that we saw at the Houston Bridal Extravaganza.  Al's Formal Wear listed a "cutaway" coat as a tuxedo option.  I couldn't find any morning coat/suit options at Men's Wearhouse.   I'll report back if I turn up some other options.

In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more, you might start with blacktieguide.com:

Like most formalwear etiquette, the proscription against donning evening wear during the day is not simply an arbitrary custom but a matter of aesthetic logic.  The tuxedo and tailcoat take their black color from their after-dark surroundings and in this context they imbue their wearer with elegance, power and even an air of mystery.  When worn in broad daylight, however, black suits look dull and lifeless and tend to make (Caucasian) men’s faces appear ashen which is what makes them so appropriate for traditional funeral director attire. 

Conversely, 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 gray trousers – which are themselves enlivened with striped or checked patterns – and by the addition of tastefully colored ties, waistcoats and even shirts.  The end result is an ensemble immensely more suitable for daylight and delightfully more open to personalization than a tuxedo is, yet at the same time significantly more formal than a regular suit.  It is no wonder this genteel tradition remains commonplace in Britain and at the same time perplexing that it became highjacked in America. 


Kristina said...

Back in the day, I worked in a rental tux shop. Morning coats are fairly rare and not all shops will carry them. They will frequently be called "cutaway" or "day" coats, as you found.

Normally, they will be paired with grey suit pants for the black jacket, grey pants look that Prince Harry is sporting in the above picture. For a more formal look, they can be paired with black tuxedo pants or black suit pants. Once in a blue moon you might be able to find a tux shop that has striped grey pants as an option which was one of my favorite looks to put together, because it was such a unique, yet sharp daytime look.

Wendy Haught said...

Thanks for commenting, Kristina! It's a shame that the choices are so limited. If you didn't have to worry about all the groomsmen matching, then you could search out a vintage outfit on ebay, I suppose.