What is a Morning Dress?

B. Miller
B. Miller
Men sometimes wear a boutonniere with formal attire.
Men sometimes wear a boutonniere with formal attire.

A morning dress is not one particular article of clothing; instead, it is a type of formal dress code for men. Morning dress is to be worn during the day as a more appropriate alternative to a tuxedo, and is often worn by grooms and groomsmen at weddings, as well as for those in attendance at prestigious events, or, in England, to royal events at Buckingham Palace. A morning suit is another type of slightly less formal morning attire.

Formal attire for men may consist of black, polished shoes.
Formal attire for men may consist of black, polished shoes.

Despite the name, morning dress attire is generally considered to be appropriate for events that take place before 5 or 6 p.m. It is not appropriate for any event after 6 p.m., when a tuxedo should be worn. There are a few articles of clothing that are generally worn when dressing in this style; the only colors used for this type of attire are generally black, cream, and/or dove gray.

The first is a cutaway morning coat. A morning coat is single breasted with peaked lapels and only one button. The front is cut away, and there are tails in the back. A white or pale shirt with a stiff detachable turndown collar is worn with the morning coat, as well as a waistcoat or vest. The waistcoat may be cream colored or dove gray, and may be double breasted or single breasted.

Trousers worn should be striped or checked, with a single pleat, and should generally be gray wool and worn with suspenders. Of course, a tie should be worn, and a handkerchief may be folded into a square and tucked into the pocket of the morning coat. Shoes should be black and polished. In addition, accessories worn with morning dress may include a top hat, cream colored or dove gray suede or chamois gloves, a cane, a pocket watch, or a boutonniere. Most of these accessories should only be considered for the most formal events.

A morning suit, where all pieces of the suit are solid gray, is a less formal version of this morning dress code, but it is very rarely worn anymore. An invitation to an event should specify the dress code; an evening version of morning dress attire is referred to as white tie attire. Searching for pictures of morning dress online is a good way to make sure one is dressing appropriately for the occasion; many websites specify even more rules for this extremely formal dress code.

Discussion Comments


I told my husband to look at the pictures of men in the royal family if you want to see what real morning dress is. Prince Harry and William always look perfectly coifed when they are going to events before 6 p.m.

I enjoy looking at different fashions and I still think that the morning/evening suit confusion is one of the ones that is the most common. It seems to me that people these days don't really know what is appropriate dress for certain events. I suppose it all is a bit old fashioned, but dressing well always has had many rules.


Dressing well as a man is actually pretty complicated. My girlfriend recently mentioned to me that I should wear a morning dress jacket for the event we were going to and I had no idea what she was talking about. I always thought a suit was just a suit.

I suppose that more men's wedding suits fall into the morning dress category than I could have ever guessed. I actually don't mind though. Now that I know what a morning jacket is I can make sure to fit in well at a more formal event without making a fashion faux pas.


@dfoster85 - I agree with you that I love a wedding with morning coats. You can probably tell I'm a big Jane Austen fan and the outfits remind me of Pride and Prejudice! My very own Mr. Darcy wore won to our wedding some years back and to me, he was just as handsome in it as Colin Firth.

To answer your question about if they are ever worn elsewhere anymore, there are a few places. For one thing, lawyers arguing before the US Supreme Court are supposed to wore morning dress! (Not sure what women lawyers wear. For men, morning coats can be for business or social events, but for women, the equivalent is purely social and would not be appropriate.)

You also see them at a very few formal daytime occasions worn by public officials. And apparently some of Britain's fanciest private schools, like Eton, use them as uniforms. (I looked it up on Wikipedia to refresh my memory about the Supreme Court.)


I just love to see morning dress as men's wedding suits. I once saw a person old enough to know better trying on a white tux with tails for an two o'clock wedding - can you say tacky? Sorry, folks, if you are getting married in the morning or afternoon, a tux is just not appropriate!

If you don't like the morning dress look, with the cutaway coat and striped pants, a regular old suit is a perfectly acceptable alternative, or even just pants and sports coats for a less dressy wedding. Just please, please, save the tux for after five.

I can't think of any other application than an afternoon wedding for morning dress. Is there any?

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    • Men sometimes wear a boutonniere with formal attire.
      By: Eric Limon
      Men sometimes wear a boutonniere with formal attire.
    • Formal attire for men may consist of black, polished shoes.
      By: Forgiss
      Formal attire for men may consist of black, polished shoes.