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What is a Morning Coat?

Stacy C.
Stacy C.

A morning coat is the jacket part of men's morning dress, a formal daytime dress code. The coat differs from other tuxedo tailcoats in the "cutaway" front feature. The front half of the coat stops at about waist length, and the back remains long with traditional tails that hang to approximately knee length.

The morning cut of tailcoat is single breasted with one or two buttons, although the two-button variation is rare. It once was acceptable for the lapels of a morning coat to be notched or pointed, but now that it is regarded as daytime formal wear, the lapels almost always are pointed or peaked. It has its origins in horseback riding; the cutaway front enabled the rider to ride and control his horse more easily.

Morning coats have their origins in horseback riding.
Morning coats have their origins in horseback riding.

The rest of men's morning dress usually consists of a vest or waistcoat, pinstriped or checked pants with one or two pleats and no cuffs, a dress shirt with a wing collar or a turndown collar with a tie or cravat, a pocket square or handkerchief and black dress shoes or boots with plain dark socks. The most traditional color for morning dress is gray, but a yellowish-tan color called "buff" is common as well. A black morning coat and dress is worn for funerals, academics and occasional government use in America. Traditionally, the tie accompanying a morning jacket and dress shirt was only black or gray, but it has become popular and acceptable to wear any color of tie. A small checked pattern called the Macclesfield design often is worn for weddings.

The dress shirt that goes under the morning coat most often is white. Wedgwood blue sometimes is seen as well. Striped or colored shirts are becoming more acceptable, but in these cases, a white collar is preferred.

Men's morning dress often features black dress shoes.
Men's morning dress often features black dress shoes.

Morning dress typically is used for weddings, government functions, royal functions and some equestrian events such as ascot. Some prep schools might require morning dress as their uniform. Morning dress is not to be worn after 7 p.m. At that point, the corresponding evening dress code would be considered white tie, not morning dress.

In the United States, the men's morning coat often is referred to as a "cutaway coat." Ronald Reagan wore morning dress as part of his presidential swearing-in ceremony. He was the last U.S. president to include it in the ceremony.

Morning dress code for women requires them to wear a day dress of knee length or longer. A cocktail dress for daytime would not be appropriate. Women's morning dress also can include a hat and gloves.

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Discussion Comments

@turquoise-- For larger sizes, a men's morning coat might not be the best choice. A straight cut coat like the ones used with lounge coats might be better.

The reason I say this is because a morning coat is tight fitting and has a curved shape which will emphasize the waist. If the gentleman has a large waist, he might want to de-emphasize it which the morning coat will not do.

What makes a morning coat a morning coat is the cut away skirt. This is a curve that goes from the waist to the hem bringing attention to the waist area. It is possible to get a morning coat made that is not closely tailored at the waist, but traditionally that's how it's made.

The morning coat also emphasizes the shoulders, but it looks best on the slim and tall body type. Otherwise you risk the appearance of an overly too tight coat and possibly a bulging belly and waist area. But if someone is still interested in a morning coat and has this problem, it can be overcome by keeping the coat unbuttoned if possible.


@turquoise-- My cousin had a 1920s inspired wedding and he wore a morning coat tux. He looked great!

I think a well-fitted morning coat looks good on anyone! And if it's matched with striped pants, it will make the person look taller and thinner than they really are. I personally think it's a good choice for a groom's tux.

One thing to pay attention to however is the time of your wedding. My cousin married on Saturday morning and he did change his coat for the reception which was at seven in the evening. A morning coat can't, well shouldn't, be worn past six or seven p.m. So do keep that in mind before deciding on a morning coat. Especially because the custom made ones can be very expensive.


I'm getting married this summer and I really want my fiance to wear a morning coat tuxedo for our wedding. I saw Prince William on TV wearing a morning coat for an event and I think he looked dashing. It's such a classy and elegant coat.

My fiance isn't too keen on wearing a morning coat though. He is a big guy and he doesn't think this coat will suit his body shape. I personally don't agree, but I'm also not very informed about men's daytime suits for special events either.

What kind of a body type is best for wearing a morning coat?

Has anyone here worn a morning coat for a special event before? How did you like it?

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    • Morning coats have their origins in horseback riding.
      By: JM Fotografie
      Morning coats have their origins in horseback riding.
    • Men's morning dress often features black dress shoes.
      By: winston
      Men's morning dress often features black dress shoes.