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What Is Morning Dress?

As you are aware, the world of tailored menswear is full of esoteric minutiae. Dress codes confuse lost of men, and morning dress is perhaps the most confusing of all due to its rarity of use. We’ve received a couple of inquiries about morning dress in the past couple of weeks, so we though we’d answer the question, “what is morning dress?” in this post.

What Does “Morning Dress” Mean?

prince charles in a morning coat
Prince Charles in morning clothes.

Morning dress is to the daytime what white tie (also known as “full formal,” “full dress,” or “cravate blanche”) is to the evening. In other words, it’s fully formal clothing that you wear before 6 P.M. The gist is that it mimics evening formal wear in terms of silhouette and presentation, but with a lighter and more varied color scheme.

England Vs. The United States

There are some geographical idiosyncrasies of this dress code.

In short, morning dress is relatively common in England but almost unheard of in the US. It’s unfeasible to pin down exactly why this is the case, but regardless, it’s true. Across the pond, it’s typical to see morning dress at formal daytime events such as weddings and State affairs – particularly in the Queen’s presence. It is the strict dress code for men while in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

Stateside, the closest we often see to proper morning dress is in the prom rental tuxedo business. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t adopted this dress code on our side of the pond – a tuxedo for a daytime wedding is fine and not uncommon, but the lighter color scheme of morning dress just makes more sense when the sun is shining.

Morning Dress Garment Breakdown

Custom CufflinksThe individual garments that comprise this dress code are as follows:

  • Morning Coat: this is a knee-length tailcoat, similar to a white tie jacket. Morning coats can be black or grey, but must take peak lapels and have a one-button single-breasted stance (which you leave unbuttoned).
  • Pants: These can be either grey or black with pinstripes, and they may be either pleated or flat-front. They should have neither cuffed bottoms nor belt loops.
  • Shirt: A light-colored shirt (typically white or light blue) with French cuffs and a turndown collar is standard.
  • Vest: Morning dress vests can be either single- or double-breasted. Single-breasted vests can have either notched lapels or no lapels, while double-breasted versions should take either a peak lapel or a shawl collar.
  • Tie: While evening formal requires a white pique bow tie, morning dress calls for a colorful silk necktie. Burgundy, rich blue, and gold are common colors. Ascots are more traditional, but neckties are more common.
  • Shoes: Your (very well-shined) black oxfords or wholecut shoes are perfect for morning dress. Black patent leather like you’d wear in the evening don’t work here.
  • Accessories: Mother of pearl cufflinks and a matching tie pin are common, as is a simple white pocket square. You may see a black or grey top hat with morning dress – this is typically reserved for racing and is otherwise carried. Opting out of the hat altogether is also just fine.


While they’re rare, we can indeed make fully custom morning clothes. Curious to learn more? Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to start a conversation.

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