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Get Ascot Ready: The Morning Suit

Get Ascot Ready: The Morning Suit

With Spring well underway and Summer fast approaching, nobility, race enthusiasts and sartorial experts alike are getting ready to dress like nobleman of the 19th Century for the Royal Ascot. The dress-code remains stoically traditional; in the Royal Enclosure, gentleman must wear black or grey morning dress with a waistcoat, tie, and a black or grey top hat. Similarly, ladies adhere to formal and elegant day wear rules; nothing strapless or above the knee and breath-taking hats are, undeniably, a must. If you’re heading to the Royal Ascot, the Epsom Derby or a Summer wedding, have no fear. Here is a brief introduction to the most lavish and aristocratic item of clothing you will ever own – the Morning Suit.

The ‘Basics’

‘In the early twentieth century, the frock coat gave way to the morning coat as the most common form of men’s dress. Today it is worn only at very formal events, such as weddings, or to the best seats at Ascot, but once upon a time its slightly rounded, cutaway front – a development that afforded horseback riders more freedom of leg movement – made it a relatively ‘casual’ alternative to its predecessor. Like frock coats, morning coats are cut with a side-body back, which means that the back is divided into two rounded panels that give the garment added shape into the small of the back and through the waist at the side seam. The length of the tails is dictated by the back of the customer’s knee, plus 1 inch. Technically, this produces the ‘correct’ length, though I have been asked by one or two customers to extend it slightly – a deviation from classic proportions that may seem minor but that my more conservative colleagues at Huntsman probably would have resisted.’

Our black Morning Coat paired with a white Marcella waistcoat, light blue shirt with white collar and cuffs, and a Richard Anderson silk houndstooth tie

For our in-house black dress-coat model (belonging to our very own Krishan Chudasama), we have paired it with a white marcella waistcoat, a light blue shirt with white collar and cuffs and a beautiful blue and white houndstooth tie. However, our stand out piece is our very own design – the Tartan Morning Coat. For the daring, we suggest pairing this with smart dark brown trousers and a burgundy tie to really tie the whole look together.

‘These days, the most commonly chosen fabrics for a three-piece suit in traditional ‘morning grey’ are grey worsted or pick-and-pick, also known as sharkskin: a smooth twill weave worsted with a very fine two-toned appearance slightly more elegant than a normal worsted. The most formal version of the morning coat, however, remains the black model, typically combined with a grey, cream or pale blue waistcoat and striped trousers. Contrary to the frock coat, which may be either single- or double-breasted, a morning coat is always single-breasted. But just as with the frock coat (and, indeed, any body coat), balance considerations dictate that you avoid using a material that’s too light: we recommend a minimum of 14 ounces (400 grams). If a customer wants black, we suggest a black barathea or a tight black herringbone. If he wants grey, we propose a grey worsted that’s clean-cut, which is to say that its ‘hair’ has been shaved close to the surface. In the normal run of things, one doesn’t stray too far from these two time-honoured ideals.’

 

You can find these excerpts and much more in Richard’s latest book, ‘Making the Cut: Stories of Sartorial Icons by Savile Row’s Master Tailor’, available in store and on our website.