The Riddler’s Guide to… Morning Dress
With the Season in full swing, we sit down with our City tailor to run over the do’s and don’ts of formal wear
Article by Rupert Watkins
The wedding season is in full swing, Frankie’s won the Derby again and this week sees Royal Ascot. With all that in mind, Riddle thought a quick check on the mysteries and subtleties of morning dress would be in order. Chatting with a busy Jonathan Becker at Couch & Hoskin in the City, we ran over a few things to consider whether you’re able to buy or having to run to the hire shop.
Aside from the obvious things such as sleeve length, it’s critical to check the tails just touch the back of the knee. Jonathan commented the jacket is what is known as a body coat, is it meant to be reasonably close fitting to the body. The vast majority of his customers have their coats made up in black though he mentioned they’ve seen more orders for grey morning dress over the past couple of years. Whilst Riddle was in the shop, a customer was also chatting and said the last wedding he’d been to, grey morning dress outnumbered black – perhaps there is a resurgence for grey.
Braces are essential to ensure no unseemly display of shirt creeps out from under the waistcoat – especially if wearing a double-breasted number. Should you have the luxury of buying, ensure the trousers are cut in the tradition English manner with a high fish tail back to take the braces. Even if hiring, in order to ensure the trousers sit on your proper waist (not hip bone) consider going up a size. Remember those braces will still allow them to hang elegantly.
Very much up to personal taste. Jonathan commented the most important thing to consider here is your body type to ensure the entire outfit looks in proportion when you are wearing it. If a double-breasted waistcoat fan and you are taller and/ or have a longer torso, an eight button waistcoat will suit you well. If slightly shorter overall or simply in torso shape, a six button one may look better on you. Traditionally, double-breasted waistcoats were six button with a double-breasted lapel though today shawl lapels are very popular. At Couch & Hoskin, Jonathan finds many of his customers prefer a single-breasted waistcoat and pointed out a picture of a very dapper looking Duke of Edinburgh in full morning dress with a white single-breasted one in the shop.
Traditionally dove grey is the most formal and today both that and buff are still the most popular colours. Couch & Hoskin have also done a number of black waistcoats but should you be tempted to try this, remember to have vest slips (small bands of coloured material running along the top edge of the waistcoat) to show you are not in mourning.
When considering the shirt, Jonathan recommends a semi cutaway collar. A full cutaway can leave the tie looking a little lost unless you wish to undo all the good work of the rest of your outfit and have a footballer sized tie knot. Look for a classic tie, a stripe, a polka dot – perhaps even a madder silk paisley.
Black is best…
Beyond these essentials, it’s clearly a special day if you’re donning the full rig. Unleash your inner Guardsman on your shoes and give them a proper bulling. A discreet breast pocket handkerchief and colourful buttonhole and you’re away….!