In the following, you will find a a basic introduction to the morning coat as well as an overview with links to the more detailed aspects of the most exquisite garment in the men’s formal daywear.
With regard to proportion of a morning coat, there are 3 ubiquitous features you will find on any such garment: the fitted body coat style, the cutaway skirt and the horizontal seams and buttons in the back.
The Morning Coat – a Body Coat
The morning coat belongs to the category of body coats, which refers to the close cut achieved using a number of darts that are exclusive to a tailcoat, a frock coat and a spencer / mess jacket. As such, it is very difficult to find a properly fitting morning coat of the rack, and most morning coats are custom tailored. The coat always features a middle dart in the back that has a slight hook where it meets the horizontal waist dart. There are two darts on either side of the middle one that curve towards the armpit. A lounge coat, on the other hand, is cut more loosely, and as such it is easier to find an appropriately fit lounge coat.
The Cutaway Skirt
Morning Coat – A Body Coat with 2 Buttons in the Back
Another omnipresent and defining feature of the morning coat is the rounded, cut away skirt. The front of the coat is cut so that it tapers smoothly across and down the body to the bottom of the tails. With regard to cutting the skirt, there are no set rules, and so you will find some morning coats with rather open quarters whereas others are more closed. It is quite difficult to cut the skirt in manner that flatters all body types equally, and so it is possible to come across a gentleman who does not look very elegant in their morning coat, despite the correct fit.
The Two buttons in the back
Finally, you will always find two buttons located on the back of the coat, located where the horizontal dart and the two side darts meet. Originally, these buttons appeared on coats with closed quarters and they enabled the wearer to flip the quarters back and keep them in place with the buttons, such as when riding a horse. Later, when the front quarters disappeared, like they did on the evening tailcoat, these buttons remained in place and even today you will not find a body coat that was designed without these two buttons in the back.
Despite the fact that all morning coats have these features in common, it is unlikely that you will find two morning coats that look exactly alike, unless they are come from the same Ready-To-Wear company.
A number of factors influence the silhouette, including the length of the tails, the cut of the skirt, the sleeves, the buttoning point or the amount of waist suppression.
Old vs. New Morning Coat Silhouette
In the early days of the morning coat, it was en vogue to have a lot of the aforementioned waist suppression. This means that the coat was cut as slimly as possible around the waist, but appeared wide in the chest and hips in order to achieve an hourglass look. In order to enhance this effect, rather stiff, quilted padding was used inside the chest, over the shoulder blades in the back and sometimes even on the hips! Usually, the buttoning point was right on the waistline, creating a long and elegant flare line.
Modern day morning coats purchased off the rack, on the other hand, are usually cut much wider, with a lower buttoning point, less padding and lighter fabrics. Now one might assume that these morning coats are more comfortable to wear. However, with their glued interlinings and overly too large armholes, this is absolutely not the case. The extra material will cause the coat to bunch and ride up around your shoulders, which makes the wearer look sloppy rather than elegant. Consequently, you should either buy a custom made bespoke morning coat or try to find a vintage piece that fits you. I won one from the late 1920’s, which is a testament to both good construction and materials in addition to the value of proper storage. While going bespoke is usually rather costly, finding a vintage garment takes time and diligence; if you find one that truly fits, it is usually worth the wait!
For more detailed information about this body coat, please explore the Morning Dress Guide by clicking through the menu on top or just start with the History of the Morning Coat.