Ascot fever has officially arrived. Our tailors are toiling beneath a mountain of barathea in black and grey for morning coats, stripes and houndstooth for trousers, and a dazzling array of bright colours for waistcoats. The attendees of the Royal Enclosure are destined to be as well turned-out as ever before if the fine craftmanship of their work is any indication of what will be worn by all and sundry.
Readers may remember an earlier post about a bespoke morningwear commission (about a grey suit with a shawl collar and gauntlet cuffs) that this form of dress is exceedingly versatile. Indeed, that is one of the joys of wearing it. Whereas evening dress for gentlemen is largely defined by a standard uniform (i.e. a black tail coat, white tie, black trousers, etc.) with some, but limited, room for individual taste, morning dress is a chance to shed the drab plumage of one’s winter wardrobe and bloom forth in the vivid colours of spring.
We offer over a dozen colour choices in our ready-to-wear morning dress waistcoat range and many more besides for those who choose to make their mark in a personalised fashion. One of our latest commissions is for a morning waistcoat made from Bateman & Ogden’s Royal Gabardine range in a French blue. With smoked mother of pearl buttons and an historic cut, this outfit will be completed with houndstooth morning trousers, a black barathea morning coat with piping, and an antique silk topper.
Our tailors have been asked to copy the black waistcoat photographed below.
Most double-breasted waistcoats made today are cut like the one pictured here on the left (a fine silk one from our Royal Ascot collection). The opening at the front of the waistcoat is U-shaped and the wrap is quite narrow, which means that the opening is low across the wearer’s front, and the bottom is cut straight across. In contrast, the one on the left has a very wide wrap, a V-shape, which means that the opening is much higher, and a slight dip across the bottom with an elegant sweep back up to the hips. This is a much more traditional cut and is rarely seen today except by those spectres among us who have not yet realised that we’re in the 21st century (which is not intended in the least to be a criticism).
Occasionally, a specimen such as this likes to lurk in front of other people’s motorcars outside the Royal Enclosure just to emphasise the age of their apparel. Below, we see a fragile antique of the early 20th century sporting a vintage morning coat (it is only prudent here to note that the subject of the photograph is, or was perhaps until this moment, a friend of your author).
In addition to the ‘casual’ collar (yes, that is what it was historically called) and stick, one can see a faint sliver of the type of waistcoat detailed above. A wide wrap with a high opening. This works particularly well with the gentleman’s two button morning coat, which is contemporaneous with his surrounding habitat.
Whatever a gentleman chooses to wear, or for what time period one chooses to dress, it is always a delight for us to facilitate these many and various needs.
The dress code for the enclosure is woven into the very fabric of history, and when re-creating garments such as these, we are given the chance to make this history live once more—a rebirth, as it were, a renaissance, an emblem of the rites of spring.