Focus On: Lightweight Morning Coat with Shawl Collar and Gauntlet Cuff

Not so many years ago, almost all men wore a jacket (and indeed a hat, but that is a matter for a different blog post) on a daily basis. Clothing, then as now, existed for practical purposes—the staving off of cold, protection against the perils of one’s work, etc.—and as a symbol of wealth or status as with regards to military uniforms or ceremonial attire.

Many of the details of tailoring today evolved from this spectrum of form versus function. For instance, an apocryphal origin tale for buttons on jacket sleeves is that Lord Nelson had them added in order to keep his midshipmen from wiping their noses on their sleeves. Sleeves could thus be rolled up in order to keep uniforms looking pristine. Decorative cuff buttons became similar to the pips of military rank—indeed uniforms during World War One showed an officers rank on the sleeves—and continue to be used by regiments and clubs to distinguish membership. Whatever the origins, ‘working cuffs’ began very much for that their name suggests as a way to roll up one’s sleeves, literally, without having to remove one’s jacket.

A cuffed sleeve is a slightly different feature. It has an extra length of fabric folded back over the arm. This was popular in the Edwardian era, as a feature of formalwear (most notable on frock coats as pictured above), but is now rarely seen, which makes it an especially unique way to add a touch of the unordinary to one’s clothing.

Shawl collars differ from peak or notch lapels by having an uninterrupted, rounded line from down the shape of the lapel. This type of collar was first incorporated on smoking jackets that evolved from the 17th century robe de chambre, or dressing gown. As goods from the Far East began to flow into Europe via the great seventeenth-century trade route known as the Silk Road, spices, tobacco, coffee, and silk became highly-coveted possessions of the wealthy and powerful. Long, silk damasque gowns were worn as an outward sign of one’s status, or as recorded by Samuel Pepy’s in his diary, they were hired to give the illusion of status. By the nineteenth-century, these robes evolved to a short-fitting jacket, worn over evening clothes as a form of protection from falling ash from cigars, earning the name ‘smoking jackets’.

The illustrious Dennis Price is pictured here from the film Kind Hearts and Coronets wearing a smoking jacket with a wide, quilted shawl collar. Owing to its relation to a dressing gown, this type of collar was initially viewed as less formal than a peak lapel (used on tailcoats and frock coats) or notch lapels (used on sporting jackets and tweeds). However, today this type of collar is equally as popular as its counterparts and is employed on many types of garments.

Oliver Brown’s coordinating grey morning suit is an attractive alternative to the black morning coat, which can similarly be worn to race meetings, and formal weddings and funerals. Classically cut, the morning coat is crafted from pure wool worsted and finished with four button working cuffs. Designed with the customary addition of a secret tailcoat pocket, and available in short, regular and long fittings. Originally made for notable customer Mr Beresford, the shawl collar and gauntlet cuff has been incorporated into the style of the spring and summer 2018 Morningwear collection.