Well, it is almost here, Harry and Megan are just a couple of weeks from tying the knot. Royal Wedding fever is rife across the media and the heart of the West End is awash with Union flags and Great British spirit! There is nothing quite like a Royal Wedding to prompt the mind to the perfect formal attire for the festivities that this time of year brings. Without doubt, it seems very much as though the nuptials at Windsor Castle are the fanfare to what is commonly known as “The Season” in London.
(photo by @levanterman)
“The Season” comprises the summer months in the UK, when calendars are marked with an array of events, both social and sporting. From the Chelsea Flower Show, through to Royal Ascot, Tennis at Wimbledon, Polo at Windsor and a healthy smattering of weddings, this is very much our favourite time of year and one that requires a considerable amount of wardrobe etiquette.
Rather confusingly, the reported dress code for the Royal Wedding is a tad vague and calls for Uniform, Morning Wear or Lounge Suits. These blurred lines are often a source of consternation for gentlemen. For those in military dress, things are simple. There is nothing more glorious than a chap in his ceremonial regimental garb and he is certainly schooled in perfect turn-out. Morning Wear and Military dress have distinct formal codes, whereas Lounge Suits on such an occasion can make the wearer feel underdressed.
However, today there are so few occasions throughout the year where one gets to dress up and far too many where a suit is required, that we therefore love the opportunity to don our morning wear. It is almost instantly transformative, giving the wearer stature and grace…and who can resist the heritage and dignity that the ensemble brings too.
Emotions aside, how you wear your morning wear is important. Wearers should keep it traditional and reigned in if they want to cut the perfect dash. Novelty waistcoats, or silk and poly versions should be left in the wardrobe, together with ascots or cravats. They belong in the days of the frock coat and the Million Pound Note or a dreadful 80s’s wedding disco!
- The Morning coat – ensure that it fits you well across the shoulders. It should be cut from either a black herringbone or featherweave, or alternatively, plain grey. If you are going for the grey option, note that you will need to wear matching trousers and waistcoat. This is where the morning coat becomes a morning suit. Your morning coat should have peak lapels and a jigger button or link fastening and ideally, sit in line with the back of the knee.
- Trousers - this is where you get to have some fun. Trousers should contrast with your black morning coat. They are more often than not a variation on a grey/black stripe, however, we absolutely love a black and white puppy tooth design too, as they are a little less somber and help lift the look. Trousers must have brace tops and sit under the waistcoat so as the waistband does not show. Morning wear is all about looking as tidy as possible.
- Braces (suspenders) – have plenty of fun here too. They are hidden under your vest, so be as playful as you like. Our felt braces work best and come in a myriad of colours. Never underestimate the role that your braces hold in ensuring that your trousers hang to the perfect length.
- The shirt – for an arch look that shows real understanding and elegance, a neckband shirt with stiff white collar is a beautiful touch. Otherwise, a white or light-coloured plain shirt is de rigueur. A light, sky-blue pulls things together well. Opt for a forward or semi spread collar and of course, double cuffs.
- Tie – keep it fairly simple and work it into your shirt, pocket square and waistcoat curation. Generally, a rule of thumb suggests nothing too bold, and definitely not narrow! A Grenadine tie provides an interesting sense of texture, whilst a Houndstooth or simple Oxford in a Spring hue will easily fit the mark.
- Pocket square – a linen, cotton or silk square. The airiness of linen works well, either all white, or with a contrast rolled edge. Alternatively, colour and simple patterns work too, just make sure to coordinate it with your vest and tie. Avoid dark tones and large designs.
- Vests or Waistcoats. Keep them simple and toned down. Stick with wool or linen, in buff or dove grey if you want to be entirely trad. We love a touch of colour, but stick with a pastel palette of duck egg blue, butter cream or sugared almond pink.
- Waistcoats can be single or double breasted. We find that a double-breasted vest looks terrific should you remove your coat and also works well in terms of proportions.
- Waistcoat slips – these derive from the late 19th century when gentlemen liked to wear their waistcoats layered. More recently, they proved extremely popular when Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall got married. They provide a lovely, white, piped feel to your waistcoat and a very fresh look. They are also an efficient means of breaking up the waistcoat and shirt. We stock ours in Marcella cotton or linen. Simply sew/attach behind the front of the waistcoat, along the neckline.
- Gloves – Like the top hat, these are not essential and they are also a little warm in summer. However, they do provide the wearer with an opportunity to take advantage of the secret pocket hidden in the tail of the morning coat. We bet that last bit came as a bit of a surprise to you!
- Shoes – a pair of classic, black Oxfords. A wardrobe staple.
And finally, a little about lounge suits….
If you decide that a Morning Suit is not your thing, then we presume that short of wearing full Scot’s regalia, you will opt for a lounge suit. There are occasions where the lounge suit dress code can mean a simple suit, without the formality of a tie. However, we generally advise that you err on the side of caution, and at least keep a tie handy. When it comes to the Royal Wedding, attend without a tie at your peril!
Stick to a classic, navy single or double-breasted suit. The rules when it comes to shirts, ties and pocket squares are much the same here as above. Keep shirts plain and ensure you wear a tie. In terms of footwear, fine gauge socks and a black Oxfords once again work best.
And one final detail before you set off…don’t forget a freshly cut boutonnière.