Wedding Guest: Morning Coat vs Lounge Suit
After a blustery walk on the beach last weekend, my companions and I stopped in the village pub for lunch only to discover we were extremely underdressed.
The bar was awash with morning coats and cocktail dresses as hoards of out-of-towners raced to get a jar in before the bells rang.
Wedding Season is upon us.
Which means it is decision time.
Nowadays the dress codes for weddings are a little looser than in the days of Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant but there are still options to be considered.
Although it is rare for brides & grooms to insist on Morning Dress, it is still popular for traditional English weddings and given how limited menswear can feel- many jump at the chance to wear something other than a lounge suit.
And besides - just about everyone looks better in a Morning Coat. As long as it fits.
Getting the fit right on a Morning Coat is trickier than with a Lounge Suit as it needs to be a little snug to get the ideal silhouette. Hugging the shoulders and chest, cinched at the waist and then flowing over the seat into the tail before finishing just above the crease of the knee, the coat should have an S-shape in profile. Often ready-to-wear or hired Morning coats can be boxy and shapeless, giving a funereal impression.
If you opt for a ready-to-wear suit take great care that the shoulders and sleeves fit and aren’t too tight (an increasingly common problem these days), even if that means the waist is too loose. You can engage an alterations tailor to perfect everything else but altering the shoulders on a RTW coat is expensive and rarely gives the desired effect.
The trousers, which traditionally are either grey or striped but dogtooth has been rising in popularity, should sit high on the waist and break on the shoe. In keeping with the elongated silhouette of the coat, it is worth getting your trousers tapered a little although they should NEVER be tight.
The waistcoat is where you can have some fun.
According to Debrett’s waistcoats are buff, grey or duck-egg but no one pays the slightest bit of attention to that anymore.
Yellow, red, tartan, silk jacquards, sports team colours; the waistcoat is the perfect place to inject a little fun into the monochrome.
The only vital feature is that it must cover your trouser waistband. There shouldn’t be so much as a hint of shirt showing. This is one of the most common (and most offensive) errors when wearing waistcoats and is usually as much to do with your trousers being too low as your waistcoat being too short.
Investing in a really well-made, well-fitting Morning Suit is worth it because it will most likely out last you. At my sister’s wedding a few years ago my uncle reached into his pocket and discovered the programme from my parent’s wedding in 1981!
But if you are more comfortable in a more modern look, Lounge suits are equally common at 21st century weddings.
Although the coat will have a less suppressed waist than on a Morning coat, it is still really important that the chest and shoulders fit.
A coat should drape across the body, not cling on with all its might as though you were about to Hulk your way out of it.
If you are part of the waistcoat renaissance, the same rules as above apply - no shirt showing. But don’t feel like it has to match the suit. Although head-to-toe can look incredibly chic, you can also use the vest as a way to inject some of your personality.
For summer nuptials I would recommend sticking to lighter colours, but if you are more comfortable in navy or dark grey than balance it with lighter colours elsewhere. Either with the waistcoat or a pocket square, which can be a lovely way to add a pop of colour but avoid matching it with your tie and socks. Instead choose complementary hues for a contemporary look.
Single-breasted has ruled the aisles in recent years but I have a real soft spot for a double-breasted linen. Particularly for an exotic location. With couples increasingly opting for far-flung venues, light-weight materials such as linen and cotton are de rigueur.
Wherever the wedding, whatever the dress code, the most important thing is that you are comfortable.
After all, nothing looks better than confidence.