In order to provide a morning coat with a special touch that is subtle yet striking, unlike a flashy lining, silk piping (also known as ribbon edging or ribbon braiding) can be applied.
Silk Piping on Chest Pocket & Lapel
The silk braid is usually made of black silk satin or grosgrain and can vary in thickness from ¼ inch to ½ inch. It covers the edges of the collar, the lapels, and the tails as well as the hook vent in the back. It is often applied on the breast pocket and on the sleeves, where it looks like a turnback cuff.
Contrast Color Ribbon Edging
Silk Piping on Morning Coat Cuffs
I have seen silk ribbon edging in person on only a handful of black and charcoal morning coats. Two were tailored in the US and the other two were of British origins. Both of the American garments were from the 1920’s, and were tailored in San Francisco and Chicago. The British coats were constructed in the 30’s.
Brown Piping on Charcoal Morning Coat 1938
Recently, I saw a charcoal morning coat with peaked lapels and two front buttons that was made in 1938 in Troy, NY, that featured a brown silk ribbon edging and brown buttonholes as well as a brown and a black button in the back. This must have been the result of an eccentric
Duke of Kent in Morning Dress with Silk Piping
customer, rather than the rule, but it seems that there is always something unexpected to be seen.
Silk Piping for Weddings
Morning Coats with piping were particularly popular with grooms, since it added an elegant touch to his ensemble on his important day. Personally, I own a splendid morning coat with silk satin piping, which was made in 1926 in San Francisco. To me it looks considerably more elegant, formal and exquisite than a plain morning coat. I, too, wore it on my wedding day.
However, author Nicholas Storey remarks in his book History of Men’s Fashion that for “very formal morning wear” one should “wear the morning coat without ribbon edging”.
Piping on Morning Coats
Prince Charles in Morning Coat & Vest with Silk Piping – Ribbon Edging
There are a number of old photographs taken of the young Prince of Wales in the 1920’s, showing him in a morning coat and matching waistcoat both with silk ribbon edging. By the mid 1930′s the braid lost its appeal to the young and so almost only older gentleman would wear a coat with a silk braid. As a consequence, vintage morning coats with a silk braid are quite rare today.
Interestingly, Prince Charles owns a morning coat with a matching double breasted waistcoat with silk piping. On his wedding day in April of 2005, he wore a morning coat with silk braiding and contrasting light grey waistcoat. As you can see, it is perfectly acceptable to either wear a matching or a contrasting waistcoat with a morning coat that features silk piping. At the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, Prince Charles wore a morning coat with matching double breasted waistcoat – both with silk piping.
During a brief period in the 1970s, braiding was popular, and consequently it was also spotted on grey morning suits. Today, however, you will most likely only find it on black vintage morning coats or on bespoke garments.
If you ever come across a morning coat with braided edges, bear in mind that it is a very rare garment. Snap it up quickly for your collection if it fits you, or at least, take a picture and send it to us!