The guide to morning dress: Part three, the final suit

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by Aleks Cvetkovic

Having now been to my first Royal Ascot, it strikes me that the hardest thing to do with morning dress is to get the details right, and in so doing capture a kind of comfortable ‘old school’ elegance without looking like you’re playing dress-up. There were a lot of men at Ascot who clearly didn’t care for their clothes, and a few who wanted to enjoy some Edwardian cosplay - here’s the look I put together for the day itself. Here’s hoping it offers a third way and a handy reference for you.

Let’s pick up where we left off. The morning dress that Whitcomb & Shaftesbury cut for me has more than lived up to expectations, not just in its cut, the traditional proportions of which – slim tailcoat, wide-lapelled waistcoat and fearlessly high-waisted trouser – work together seamlessly, but also in how the three different cloths we chose complement each other.

Having this outfit made has more than confirmed my suspicion that the proportions of modern ready-to-wear morning suits, with low rise trousers and elongated waistcoats, really are missing a trick. The whole kit is extremely comfortable to wear, even in mid-June heat, and the way the coat’s tails curl so neatly around my legs to hang cleanly at the backs of the knees is very impressive.

Special mention should go to Whitcomb’s finishing, which has been consistently superb each time I’ve worked with the team.

Notice the subtle details that have been added to this suit, which only a bespoke tailor could offer: the exquisite laid-on braiding around the coat’s lapels and cuffs (the braid is vintage silk, kindly sourced for me by il maestro, Bob Bigg), the delicate bar tacks sewn by hand that reinforce the trouser pockets, and the fineness of the hand-sewn watch catch (the central buttonhole from where you fix your Albert chain).

The buttons are antique fish bone, which is traditional for formalwear and no longer readily available. Again, Bob kindly dug these out of his vintage stores. The white Marcella cotton waistcoat slips are lovely too, and something that most skilled alterations tailors could add to a ready-to-wear waistcoat – well worth doing, both for the old-world glamour and the way they contrast with the darker coat and trousers.

Speaking of ‘old world glamour brings us nicely to styling a morning suit.

The balance to aim for, whether for the races as seen here, or a wedding, is one that embraces the majority of the dress-code quirks and foibles, but stays on the right side of neo-Edwardian fantasy. Morning dress might be unusually formal, but it’s like anything else in your wardrobe. If you want to look elegant, don’t dress up – just get dressed. To me, that means choosing which parts of the traditional rig you feel comfortable with, and which to pass up.

So, what did I opt for? Jewellery-wise, I went the whole hog. I brought my antique pocket watch out of retirement, having not worn it for years, and complimented it with an antique ‘ruby’ tie pin. It’s 1960s costume jewellery, but I think it does the job.

Perhaps the most noticeable extravagance in this outfit is the silk-plush top hat, which is a 1920s example made by Lock & Co. I got extremely lucky with this. Silk plush toppers are sadly no longer in production (the last machines that made the cloth were broken up in the 1970s) and as a result antique top hats have become highly collectible. Some command silly prices: when I started looking for a topper I was quoted between £3,000 and £20,000.

I found this one on a market stall called The Last Stop for the Curious in Spitalfields, and after some negotiation paid £850, which is steep but a relative steal compared to many of the hats I saw elsewhere.

It’s also a fabulous object, with its iridescent sheen and sweeping curves, and a once-in-a-lifetime purchase that I plan to wear to the races for many years to come. If you are determined to source a silk topper too, give yourself plenty of time to go hunting and try obscure places – market stalls, vintage hat shops and antiques dealers. If you’ve got £3k or £4k to spend, Oliver Brown has a large collection available in-store.

So far, so traditional. But, I did decide to contemporise the outfit in two regards.

The first is the shirt I’m wearing. As mentioned in Part One, I considered wearing a starched detachable collar to Ascot, but in hindsight I’m very glad I didn’t. Instead, faced with 25-degree heat I opted for a collar-attached shirt from Ede & Ravenscroft, with a white cutaway collar and fine dark blue horizontal stripes.

It was far more comfortable to wear than a starched collar would have been, and it looked much more contemporary. The only starched collars I spotted on the day were worn by eccentric characters toting canes, spats and cigars, who seemed to be there more for the dress than the racing.

Importantly, this shirt has double-cuffs in the same cloth as the body. A contrasting collar is correct, but contrasting cuffs are a bit flash for morning dress.

The shirt’s dark blue stripes picked out the navy in my Prince-of-Wales check tie from Budd. The tie is part of Budd’s excellent new Wedding Collection and available here.

And the final detail to note is the pocket hanky, which adds a nice bit of colour contrast. I wore an old favourite from Drake’s, in printed silk and modal. Its rusty hue gives an otherwise sober look a touch of warmth.

A brief word on colour more generally, echoing the advice in Part One. Stick to a pastel-coloured shirt (baby pink or blue are safe bets) with a white collar, a dark finely patterned tie, and a fun contrasting pocket hank, and you won’t go far wrong. Avoid bold stripes, loud checks and bright colours. They look incongruous against a classic black coat or morning grey.

The other area in which I played with convention was the choice of footwear. I opted for a relatively racy, yet permissible choice,: black Kempton III demi-boots from Crockett & Jones’s Hand Grade line.

I am a huge advocate for Crockett’s shoes, which offer exceptional value for money and – in my experience at least – better fitting qualities than many considerably more expensive brands. The Hand Grade range is beautifully finished on excellent lasts with a significant amount of handwork. Kemptons also worked for me because they appear as Chelsea Boots beneath trouser cuffs, but cover less of the ankle so aren’t as hot to wear.

Crockett’s 367 last with its soft chiselled toe felt appropriately ‘English’ for the occasion too. If I’d been a dress-code pedant, I’d have opted for button boots, but these feel too Victorian to me. I could have gone for classic black Oxford cap-toes, but I don’t have any use for trad black Oxfords, and I’ll wear the demi-boots a fair bit.

The results, I hope you agree, are elegant but not antiquated, and relatively conservative – as morning dress should be.

Of course, this is my own personal take on the dress code (informed by a fair bit of research, it should be said) and there may be some who disagree with the choices I’ve made, as well as some purists who will rebuke me for neglecting a starched collar and chamois gloves. If that’s your thing, go for it, but I’m a huge believer in dressing for your time, no matter the place or dress code.

Above all, I hope this series has been enjoyable to follow, useful for those who are new to morning dress, and provides some helpful food for thought. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, and happy dressing!


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Gary Mitchell

This is one of those occasions when most people will not notice any difference between what you have produced and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ much used hire outfit, but then again… most PS readers are not ‘most people’ are we. The devil is not in the detail, the devil ‘is’ the detail (was it Ray Eames said that?) I have never needed a morning suit but I fear I would end up as detail orientated as you did and pay a fortune for something I wear once; hopefully I can avoid that by continuing to never need one.

Excellent series I really enjoyed the read and the end product looks like it works perfectly, well done.

Advice for anyone wanting to hire a suit…. hire it a size or two too small and squeeze into it, everyone will believe it to be your own and that you have grown out off (yes it really happens :-))) and so clearly not a hire suit. 🙂


Thanks Gary, glad you enjoyed reading. I don’t endorse the idea of hiring a suit that’s too small for you, but there are certainly some very good ready-to-wear options for morning dress out there, now. Oliver Brown is a safe place to start.


Friday morning , coffee in hand , open my iPhone , head to my favourites , click on Permanent Style .

I sigh , yawn and mutter , “Simon’s off on one of his boring adventures into , for me , a non-relevant area”

I roll my eyes and click the article and ….

PHOAW !!!!!!


Just beautiful .
I note Alex mentions proportion in the article . He’s nailed it .
That’s such a complex outfit and put together so well .
I despise double breasted waist coat but that just works so well .

That photo should become the master for any talk on morning dress.
Compliments to the photographer who deserves a special mention.

P.S. been reading Alex work for a while and can certainly say he’s developing very, very well in his writing .


Glad you enjoyed the series, Robin. Thanks for reading!

Andy Palmer

Looks very good, but the question is did you win?


Not a penny, sadly!

Andy Palmer

By the way the collar on your E&R shirt looks great. In real life do you think it TOO cutaway for everyday wear?


Personally, I feel like extreme cutaway collars have had their moment for everyday wear – they were all the rage four-or-five years ago, when we were all going into offices wearing ties. I think it works well with the morning suit because it’s quite architectural, but I don’t plan to wear it casually. I’ll keep it for those rare occasions when a tie can come out!


Silk plush toppers are sadly no longer in production”
This isn’t entirely true – someone found a few bolts of silk plush in their attic and sold them to Lock & Co, who will produce them made-to-order. This is of course very limited but they are still being made on a small scale!


Interesting, good to know, Aaron, thank you!

Charles Wolfenbloode

From what I gather, they ran out of the vintage plush very quickly.


Also (I accidentally pressed post before adding this bit, sorry Simon) re starched collars – please spare a thought for all my barrister colleagues who are having to wear starched collars and starched collar bands in sweltering court rooms currently, along with everything else!

Gary Mitchell

I gave it some thought… thanks, it cheered up my Friday 🙂

Gary Mitchell

Silk toppers???? Who knew eh? A few years ago I gave two perfect silk top hats away (belonged to my grandfather) Imagine how happy I am to discover I gave away the price of a small car! I though they were old hats of little value and even less use.


Next time you see one on a market stall, nab it!

Ian F

A very enjoyable series on an esoteric subject, Aleks. As we are talking about details, I have one question. If waistcoat slips came about to replicate the old tradition of wearing more than one waistcoat, what do you (and/or Chris Modoo) think about the way some modern double breasted ones like yours don’t, and continue from the point of crossover to the bottom of the overlapping lapel (for instance, by comparison with the picture of Prince Charles, halfway down the first instalment)?


A very good question, Ian, and not something I’ve observed before. I think in the context of today, either version is fine. I think the value of slips is in adding a hint of contrast to an otherwise sober ensemble.


I’ve just got around to reading the final part and was about to make a comment on this.
I prefer slips when they sit inside the opening as the current PoW wears them rather than following the lapel.
But I think both have historical precedent.
Richard Bellamy wore his slips like Mr Cvetkovic.
Chris Modoo


I’ve enjoyed this series.
Wondering if Aleks could do one more part around how to approach Stroller/Black Lounge Suits? I assume most of what he’s covered can apply, so it would be a logical building block. I also think Stroller, since it uses a more familiar silhouette, could be a more useful outfit for most people at special occasions.


A curious thought, but stroller suits are one of those outfits that feel quite archaic to me. A series on how to make contemporary black suiting work though, that could be interesting.


I have never seen anyone wearing a Stroler suit in real life. Captain Manwarring used to wear them to work and the bank, and of course James Bond married Tracey wearing one. And that’s it.


I had to Google “stroller suit”.
The senior men where I worked for a year in the mid 60s wore black jackets with grey striped trousers. By the early 70s, when I’d graduated and started working as a solicitor in Leeds there was only one man who I ever saw walking around the business area in one. He completed the ensemble with a bowler hat.
Many Freemasons still wear the black jacket and grey stripes as standard dress for Lodge meetings, as you’ll see if you walk around Great Queen Street on a late weekday afternoon.


Captain Peacock!


I think the issue with a stroller suit is that there are almost no occasions where it would be the required dress code, unlike morning dress which is still worn for Ascot, weddings, state events etc. The stroller used to be the professional dress code for lawyers and office workers in the City of London and Whitehall but that died out in the second half of the 20th century. As a result the stroller became more or less obsolete, whereas morning dress and the equivalent evening dress codes (black tie and white tie) have not because there are still events where they are appropriate.

Christopher Modoo


The so-called “stroller” of short black jacket styled with morning dress is still very relevant.
I used to wear it annually at the Order of the Garter ceremony held at Windsor castle. It was less cumbersome than a morning coat which was important as I was dressing the Heralds in their tabards.



The link to the Bud wedding collection isn’t working, FYI


Some clothing items are disliked because they are outdated and costume-ish, others because they are used as a class markers. This manages to do both; I wouldn’t want one if Whitcomb & Shaftesbury offered to make one for me free of charge.


We need pictures of the tail!!

Andrew Poupart

A very enjoyable and informative series, Aleks. And the suit looks superb.


Thank you, Andy!


Just to be clear from the get-go – I think this is a wonderful outfit and if wearing it gives you pleasure (as it should) then more power to your elbow.
But… Royal Ascot aside, how often and in what circumstances do you see yourself wearing an ensemble like this? I’m interested in how your managed to rationalise spending a considerable sum on morning dress, as opposed to a three piece lounge suit that you could wear every single day and in a myriad of situations?
I’m not even sure it’s that practical for wedding these days – as very few people must mandate morning dress for gentlemen who are not part of the groom’s party.


Pretty retro
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin)
But if, as an experiment..


The complete picture of this beautiful wardrobe reminds me of Churchill’s eulogy of Chamberlain, quoting Disraeli: “An English Worthy,” Agree that I will never have the opportunity to wear one, but I also am not of the British leadership class represented here. At least I know my limits! As an American with zero skin in the game, I for one am happy that these traditions are not only being carried forward, but also slightly modernized in small ways that matter a lot. For me and perhaps a few others they represent a mentality or sensibility, rather than to directly emulate; something to aspire towards, or at least to appreciate from afar.


It helps to be of an age where you are going to lots of weddings. I’m a little older than that now, but just a few years ago when I had plenty of wedding invitations, morning dress was very common. Certainly a good smattering of guests at every one in morning dress, in addition to the wedding party.


Agreed, David. That’s a big part of the rationale for getting some tails sorted. I’ve got two morning dress weddings in next year, with more to come over the next few years, I suspect. It’s that time of life for me!


I’ve not seen enough morning dress outfits to be habituated to its aesthetic values, but as someone who’s steeped in formal menswear this outfit looks so archaic and foppish to me. The pinstripe trousers look carnivalesque and unnecessarily contrast with both the waistcoat and jacket. (Why not just a simple solid charcoal or navy jacket-trouser combination?) A white spread collar shirt would frame the face better and better match the black jacket. All that jewelry is well overboard (top hat alone accessorizes sufficiently).
I’m sure each piece was chosen with a respect for sartorial history, but in this case the respect has imposed high aesthetic costs—to my eye.


I agree with you to a point, but on the trousers it really is a case that one cannot wear plain charcoal trousers, for example (or, really – though more debatable – navy/navy). It wouldn’t then be morning dress. So it’s a bit like suggesting a certain black tie outfit would look better with a grey suit and necktie rather than bow-tie. Possibly true, but it would not then be a black tie outfit. There are limited number of jacket/trouser colour/pattern combinations which constitute morning dress.

That said, I agree on the jewellery. Given the dress code requires a (relatively) huge degree of flamboyance anyway, adding more eccentric chains and pins from the era when such dress was more common does make it more costume-y. Too much so for my taste.
But for others I think that’s all part of the fun – and good for them.


Have you read parts one or two, Ben? They’ll help you to make sense of what’s going on here.


I had. As I mentioned, your rationale in previous posts seems simply to have been a respect for tradition—and “playing with archaisms.” These inclinations, I sustain, did not a great outfit make. I see some all grays and all navys in Royal Ascot photos—including on the official RA website. Just a less contrasting pinstripe trouser would be a significant improvement.


This just looks like Cosplay these days … but then I suppose enjoy that)

Joe O

Anyone telling you to wear gloves when it’s 85 degrees out is an idiot, dress code or not. Absolutely love the outfit.


Thank you!

David Lilienfeld

Simon–This is a great series! Thanks.


What is the final price of the morning suit?

Roger Culver

I disagree entirely with your comment about a starched collar and 25 degree heat; the collar stands away from the neck and as a result is much more comfortable in hot weather than a shirt with collar attached.


Hi Roger
I told him that…


Superb. Simply superb. You have managed to keep it classic and very tasteful. Those who appreciate these things will see it, but you will not particularly stand out.

The waistcoat is very well cut. Bespoke here was definitely worth it. Nothing off the peg will look that good. Trousers sit very well.

Well done with the attachable collar. One year for Ascot I got a similar shirt with the collar, but really struggled to get the tie on (there must be a technique).

Silk top hat is essential. Yours has a good shape to it. Probably pre-1930.

I think the Prince of Wales would approve of your choices.

I noted a few Edwardian type shirt collars at Ascot too. Best avoided. Too “fancy dress”.

I hope you get some usage out of it for forthcoming weddings.

Perhaps a series on white tie? Still common dress code for livery companies.


Thanks for reading Stephen, very pleased to hear you’ve enjoyed the series!


Hi There,

Just seen this – really interesting. One small point – stiff collars are not really an affectation at Ascot… and there is a trick to attaching them with a tie easily. Simply loop your tie into the collar and use two paper clips to hold the ties to the ends of the collar… then attache the collar to the back of the shirt and then put on the shirt. Pin the front of the collar to the shirt and then you should have a shirt and collar with the tie in the correct position. Simply remove the paper clips and knot the tie….

Hope this is useful!


Wonderful close to a wonderful series. Well done, Aleks, this was a delight to read!
A question: in terms of styling a morning coat ‘correctly’, I assume a simple white shirt is more than acceptable?
Particularly in a more formal setting such as wedding, presentation of diplomatic credentials, Nobel Prize ceremony, royal court visits, etc.
I assume for the races it is welcome to have some colour and at a wedding one may want to be cheerful too in this way, but nothing wrong with a plain white, right? Cheers.


Hi Vlad, glad you the enjoyed the series, thanks for taking some time to read. There are some thoughts on shirts in part one (worth revisiting), but in brief, you are correct. Plain white is acceptable, but colour with a white collar is to be encouraged.


Perfectly acceptable, but I do think a very subtle pattern is a better choice. Depends on the event though. Slightly bolder for the races is OK. Plain while if you happen to be attending a state funeral. Aleks nails it with the feint blue stripe.


Thanks, chaps! I hear your points loud and clear, now off to update my gear and hunt for a ticket/invitation for next year 🙂
Just a final comment on Aleks’s mentioning somewhere in the series that there are also some good RTW options for morning dress: I am more than happy with my Charles Tyrwhitt morning coat in black, trousers in cashmere stripe, and waistcoat in dove grey. They all fit well and appear to be made to a very high standard.


This is very elegant indeed.
Thank you Simon for hosting the article.
Aleks, very nice series and beautiful suit. Wish you enjoy it.


Wonderful outfit. Morning dress is really the epitome of elegance. I still don’t understand though why is it impossible to revive the production of silk top hats. Is it really a craft, lost forever? I doubt it. The only explanation is there isn’t enough demand, and so there are no businessmen, interested in investing a significant sum of money into reviving their production. Maybe, one day…


The market for silk top hats is driven by Royal Ascot. There’s plenty of vintage ones around in various sizes. I doubt it makes much commercial sense to make them new.


Even the best vintage ones don’t always look perfect. Plenty of people buy top hats every year to attend these events and there are a few companies selling new ones, made of melusine wool which is supposed to resemble silk. I’m sure these people would be willing to spend a little more on a silk hat. But only vintage ones are available and they really cost a fortune. I guess, a new silk one would cost around 500 pounds. All that has to be done, is the silk to be produced again. I suppose, the Chinese could make such silk if they received a commission.


Nice morning dress, though it looks surprisingly unflattering from the back – maybe just the posture in that specific picture?
Other than that, for a fun social event I would have picked a lightly colored waistcoat, and also a less somber tie. I am also surprised you warn against cosplay but then go with an antique silk hat, a pocket watch with a gaudy chain, and a tie pin – I would drop all of these for a modern, sleeker look (also I would wear a white handkerchief). I like the shoes however, never seen these before.
Hope you will have plenty of occasion of wearing it!


Little follow up: A pinky signet ring worn by someone called Cvetkovic, and is that a cameo on that other ring?? I am not meaning this in any derisive way, but you’re not doing yourself a favor here.


Ah, sorry if it comes across like this, as I said that’s really not the intention.
It’s also not really a question, but I think for your readers it might be helpful to call out if something goes wrong – especially when you’re younger and/or do not wear formal wear regularly, you will want to avoid making choices that will potentially expose you to the ridicule of the people you might want to fit in with.
I think that the pocket watch with the large chain and the tie pin would already raise some eyebrows, but that might just be seen as questionable taste or cluelessness (sorry for the harsh word, but I have participated in these conversations, and that is just what people say). A signet ring however inevitably carries social baggage. I personally find them pompous even when you come from a family with a historic crest. I doubt that Aleks does from his name (please correct me if I’m wrong), so pompous becomes somewhat pretentious, which most people will perceive as worse. And for other rings that aren’t wedding bands, they are at least unusual, especially something as feminine as a cameo.
I believe Aleks cares too much about clothes and appearance to be unaware of the signals he sends when deviating from the contemporary standard of formal wear. So to end on a constructive note (again, no bad feelings intended), I would be very much interested in why he makes these choices nonetheless, as I would be in whether you Simon, would suggest men interested in subtle “permanent” style should wear eye-catching jewelry and accessories.
Take care and thanks for the content!

Andy Palmer

Felix I hadn’t really paid much attention to the rings until reading your comment here.
The ring on the left hand is not a signet ring. It seems to be more a designed double band of some sort. If you are going to wear a ring on that finger, a signet ring is the proper option, so I agree it does look a little out of place.
On the right hand, a lot of Americans wear a college ring on that finger, but this does not appear to be one of those. Perhaps it is a family heirloom?
So yes, on reflection I agree with you that the rings do look a touch out of place.


Hi Andy, I was looking at the ninth picture – it looks very much like that pinky ring it is a signet ring.

Simon, I completely agree with your view on online etiquette, but I think you’re a little overdefensive here. Yes, all fashion choices are at some level a question of taste, but within the general aesthetics you promote on your site things certainly can go wrong (tan shoes with a navy blue suit, matching sets of tie and handkerchief, “flashy vs fuddy” etc. etc.). And obviously I wouldn’t call strangers pretentious to their face without a reason, but also most people don’t write articles about their clothes on a website with thousands of visitors.

Further, nearly all of the articles here have a personal touch, so why not make a personal observation? Someone with a Balkan surname is objectively unlikely to descend in male line from English gentry (or whoever “rightfully” has a family crest in the UK), so it seems unusual to wear a signet ring. But maybe Aleks has some interesting reason for his choices in jewelry, and I certainly would be very happy to learn about those.

I guess criticism always comes across as more serious and harsh in writing. It’s not intended that way – after all, it’s just clothes, and I am happy for anyone sharing my interest in this hobby. In fact, I have just finished and enjoyed an episode of Aleks’ podcast. But the solution also can’t be to limit feedback to how absolutely superb everything is.

Andy Palmer

HI Felix, you’re right, but if you look at the picture above it the ring loks totally different, and certainly not like a signet ring. Strange.

Jeans Lauren

Felix Aleks is a Dandy and a Sartorialist.
Think of it this way, Sartorialism is more so about skill and finesse then it is taste. Taste is putting it all together in a certain way etc. So pinning a tie, tying a tie, arching a tie and wearing a pocket square are all Sartorial because they require skill and finesse, but they also imply a certain level of cultivation and taste. Things like rings and watches are more so about a consumer identity, they’re bought then put on etc. There is some skill involved in contriving a watch chain, but not in the same way as a tie is worn with.
Realise that Aleks is basically on another level, and is better then most men who’re 50 years his senior. Give the man a little credit for what he’s done.


If one decided to expose oneself on the internet, readers will comment. The observation about signet rings is correct, although maybe a bit “off” in terms of tone.

A “dandy” is someone who liked to bask in public opinion, so they should be able to deal with less-than-positive feedback.

Alex McShane

Brilliant guide Aleks, with relevant areas to bring in the modern touches we all own in our wardrobes. I too feel that morning dress can look a bit forced if not properly informed. My favorite part of about the final article was the shoe choice. They just add something to the outfit and do elevate the whole ensemble.
With morning dress is there an option beyond the silk topper?


I’ve really enjoyed these serials (this and the A&S linen jacket), thanks both! Very elegant, and the finishing looks fantastic. A somber take certainly, but that’s personal. I did wonder whether you opted for the grey waistcoat to get some versatility for weddings (that would be my thinking too), and I see in the comments those opportunities might have figured into your decision!

Just wondered Aleks, would you do anything different for future visits to Ascot, maybe more colour/playful? Or a wrist watch over a pocket watch?

Matt Spaiser

Thank you, Aleks, for your morning dress story. Your outfit turned out beautifully. My wife wanted me to wear a grey morning suit for our wedding, but considering we’re in America and our wedding was mainly in the evening I didn’t think it would be all that practical. I ended up with the typical American choice of black tie, particularly so others could join me.
I’ve noticed so many angry comments throughout this series, and I am confused. Why are some people so offended by morning dress? Do some see it as a symbol of oppression like the safari jacket? I personally found this series fascinating, even though I will likely never commission morning dress.

K Chow

Such a well written series! Living in a place where no occasion would allow the wear of morning dress, would a black peak lapel jacket be a permissible substitution of the tailcoat?


That style would be called ‘black lounge suit’ and is the equivalent daytime outfit in formality to a black tie ensemble, AKA a tuxedo. It’s very classic and beautiful in my opinion

Matt L

Those waistcoat buttons are fascinating (pun intended!), can we have more details on them? They’re the sort of thing I haven’t seen in perhaps decades.


What happened to your beard, Simon?


Hi, Aleks! A very well turned out suit and a nice write-up as always, both entertaining and full of useful advice.
I have two questions/comments:
(1) I like the fact that you went all out on the accessories, it is the races after all and one should have fun and go all the way in self-expression and of course show some tasteful ‘bling’ as you have. However, on more somber occasions, how would you tone down the accessories to achieve that elusive ‘less is more’ styling and to fit in better with a more elevated occasion. My guess would be no pocket watch, or at least no chain, a more subtle tie pin, possibly worn under the waistcoat, a white handkerchief, and perhaps a white dress shirt. What do you think?
(2) If I am not mistaken, you are sporting navy socks. Is that what you usually wear with all clothes if you’re not going for colourful socks? My guess is that black would be more suitable for morning dress, or dark grey, also because there is no navy to pick up from the rest of the outfit. However, I could be entirely wrong 🙂

A woman who loves to read about men's style

I didn’t know I liked morning dress so much! I love this look. Thank you for the three part series, Aleks. The outfit is quite flattering.

Simon, I hope you’ll consider commissioning a morning dress outfit. You could go to the races and maybe even do a shoot there.

I’m not sure if we have similarly spectacular races in the U.S. If we do, I hope morning dress catches on with our guys.


I recall a stand-out sight at Ascot, when I first attended many years ago: a man was wearing, in the Royal Enclosure, not tails, but a black Edwardian double-breasted frock coat. It was the height of elegance and looked way better than anything else around him. The black or dark blue frock coat was the staple attire of Ascot meetings in the first half of the last century. It is a supremely practical item that can be worn to more than just a once a year race meeting or to formal weddings. It deserves a come-back.


This is excellent… do you know if this attire would count as Morning Dress today for the purpose of attendance in the Royal Enclosure?

Peter O

What’s wrong with looking like you’re playing dress up? Aren’t you playing dress up? I think you might look good with a moustache.

Mark R

Kudos on this superb series of articles, Aleks—I found them all fascinating!
I was intrigued by your reference to antique fish bone buttons, not something I’d heard of before. Just to confirm, you’re referring to the beautiful buttons on the waistcoat, correct? I’m having a hard time imagining what manner of fish could possess bones able to be transformed into such large, dark, and pearlescent buttons, and even the all-knowing Google gods seem to be mute on this subject. Might you have any information to share on how these were made and why they’re no longer available?

Wholesale Clothing

Gary, thanks for reading; I’m delighted you did. Although I don’t support the idea of renting a suit that is too small for you, there are currently some excellent ready-to-wear solutions for morning attire available. A good place to begin is with Oliver Brown.


Having read the previous comments, I have understood that the author sees himself as a “dandy”.
What about morning dress for people who do not want to be “dandies” but clean and conservative?
What about the continental European tradition of wearing a vintage Hermes tie in yellow or red, instead of the “weddding tie” styles in PoW checkß

Some observations:

  1. I like how you told them to place a buttonhole at the centre for the watch chain. I came up with another neat solution that avoids having to sew a buttonhole, and instead hide on in a central seam, which I copied from a vintage example I had. This also means I can wear the waistcoat without a chain and it not look odd having an unused buttonhole smack bang in the centre. (see image of my own creation)
  2. The waistcoat slips: the slip on the left-hand side (from wearer’s perspective) of the waistcoat ought to slip into waistcoat rather than continuing to extend along the edge and over the right-side. After all, the slips where meant to represent an inner waistcoat so should appear as such, very much like the layering of different layers of a kimono one side overlapping the other.
  3. I agree re starched collar, etc. It’s best you don’t do something you’re uncomfortable with, and normal shirt is perfectly fine IMHO. It’s one of the minor things that you can have leeway with. Also, gloves, canes, etc are simply optional accessories that are not mandatory.
  4. I’ve written about top hats before (those who know, will know). To add further, vintage silk top hats will go up in price I suspect, but I know there will be ones that crop up in auctions and antique shops now and again.
  5. In regards to occasions for wear, I’ve worn them at weddings, Ascot, etc. but by far I mostly wear them to academic events throughout the tear when academic dress is worn (in such a situation, the collar and neckwear are substituted; i.e. wing collar, white bow tie and bands, aka clerical neckwear, mortarboard in lieu of topper, but everything else is the same).

In any case, I love the results of your commission. Hope you enjoy wearing it for years to come!

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David Whittaker

Aleks, I’m just pulling together my own outfit for Royal Ascot this year and wondered if you had a firm view on the colour of your top hat? You’ve obviously gone for black but just wondered if you think a medium grey is equally as acceptable?


You’ll see 50/50 grey and black. The black silk hats are the smart ones, not hired, but owned. The grey ones are technically more in keeping with a summer day event. Both are “correct”. The late Duke of Edinburgh always wore a grey one. HIs son, the King wears a black one. Whatever you wear, you’ll be in good company!

Ben H

Thank you for this excellent series of articles. It has been a fantastic resource as I research in preparation of purchasing my first morning suit to wear at several weddings over the next couple of years. Unfortunately, I am working on a different budget and I won’t be able to have a custom suit tailored. I know there are a couple of comments already about off the peg morning suits, but I would be extremely grateful if the author and/or members of the PS community could provide some advice on the following:

  1. What should I look out for in an off the peg suit? For example, is the material, the cut/fit, or the style most important?
  2. What will the main differences be between a bottom range (e.g. Moss Bros) suit for £650 ( compared to say a and Ravenscroft suit for £1000 ( Is it worth spending the extra?
  3. Finally, can anyone recommend a quality off the peg morning suit in the price range of £600 to £1000?

Thank you in advance for your help and advice.
Kindest regards,


Have a look at Victory Vintage, lots of low cost options. The quality will be much better than anything Ede or Moss will offer new.