A tailcoat is a coat with the front of the skirt cut away, so as to leave only the rear section of the skirt, known as the tails. The historical reason coats were cut this way was to make it easier for the wearer to ride a horse, but over the years tailcoats of varying types have evolved into forms of formal dress for both day and evening wear. Although there are several different types of tailcoat, the term tailcoat is popularly taken to be synonymous with the type of dress coat still worn today in the evening with. This dress coat, one of the two main surviving tailcoats, is a dark evening coat with a squarely cut away front. The other one is the (or cutaway in American English), which is cut away at the front in a gradual taper.
Contentswears a Regency period dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. A mid-twentieth century dress coat, with the longer tails reaching below the knees fashionable then. A rare women's version of a tailcoat in black wool, from 1939.
A dress coat, sometimes called a swallow-tail or claw-hammer coat, is the coat that has, since the 1850s, come to be worn only in the evening by men as part of the, also known as evening, for evening occasions. It is commonly referred to as just a tailcoat, but amongst tailors (both British and American) and dress historians it is traditionally called a dress coat to differentiate it from other types of tailcoats.
The modern dress coat is an evolution of the coat that was once both day and evening dress. It became increasingly popular from around the late 1790s and was particularly widespread during the, and in America in the 1830s to 1850s. The eighteenth century dress coat was supplanted in the 1850s as formal day wear by the, which was in turn replaced in the twentieth century by the. In the Regency period, the dress coat with gilt buttons was always worn with non-matching trousers, pantaloons or breeches. Since the Victorian era, the modern dress coat for evening wear has been worn with matching trousers of the same cloth with two stripes of braiding down the side. The resulting suit is traditionally referred to by tailors as a dress suit.
A dress coat is waist length in the front and sides, and has two long tails reaching to the knees in back. Sometimes there is a pocket on the inside to hold. Since around the 1840s the dress coat has lacked outside side pockets, but prior to this it took flapped side pockets. Since the early twentieth century it has become acceptable to have a welted pocket on the outside of the chest to hold a pocket square, but prior to this dress coats lacked any outer pockets. The front of the skirt is squarely cut away. Since around the 1830s the coat has been constructed with a waist seam that allows greater waist suppression. From the, the has taken facings in silk ( or ) on the. Although it is double-breasted, since the 1870s, the dress coat no longer fastens in the front. As a result, although there are two rows of buttons, these are all non-functional, serving only a decorative function.
As part of modern, either a black or midnight blue dress coat is worn with a stiff detachable white wing-collar, with a plain starched pique bib, and fastened with ; a matching white marcella cotton and white ; black trousers; and black with stockings. Additionally, a top hat, silk dress scarf, and white dress gloves are also seen as acceptable.
Morning coat dress coats for men 2018Two men wearing morning coats at a wedding. 1929.
A morning coat is a single-breasted coat, with the front parts usually meeting at one button in the middle, and curving away gradually into a pair of tails behind, topped by two ornamental buttons on the waist seam. The lapels are usually (American English peak), not (notch), since the coat is now only worn as formalwear. When it was first introduced, the step lapel was common, since it was worn as half dress. The coat can be grey or black as part of, and is usually worn with striped, or very occasionally checked, trousers.
The morning coat may also be worn as part of a morning suit, which is mid-grey with matching trousers and waistcoat.
The modern morning coat (or cutaway in American English) is a man's coat worn as the principal item in. The name derives from morning nineteenth century exercise for gentlemen. It was regarded as an informal form of. Gradually it became acceptable as an alternative to the for formal day wear or full dress. Since the nineteenth century it is normally only seen at weddings, at formal baptisms, and in England and Australia, at races such as, and the where it is worn with a contrasting waistcoat, usually light grey or sometimes 'fancy'. It is very occasionally seen at funerals but more often it is used as day wear at formal luncheons, especially civic occasions under formal gowns, when worn with a black matching waistcoat (or 'vest'). Male members of the wear it in their first public appearance following the formation of the cabinet.
The Marshal and Clerk of the wear morning coats when the justices are appearing in public wearing their traditional robes, for example when the court is in session, or when attending the. At one time all attorneys appearing before the court wore morning coats but they now wear standard business attire. The (when the office is held by a male) and his or her male deputies continue the tradition of wearing morning dress when arguing before the court.
During the Victorian and Edwardian era, in the United States morning coat referred to a single-breasted, so the British then made fun of the fact that Americans were unable to distinguish between morning coats and frock coats. In modern American English, morning coats are referred to as cutaway coats.
In, a variant called a is still worn in certain disciplines in its eighteenth century role as daytime formalwear. It is basically a form of dress coat which is closer in cut to the early nineteenth century style worn by than to the modern version worn with evening formal dress. The male version of the shadbelly is often called a "weaselbelly".
Levée dress coat
This is a type of dress coat traditionally worn with, until the mid twentieth century. It was made of black velvet and traditionally worn at court,, and evening state parties by those who did not wear uniforms. A version made of black was also worn as.
It was single breasted with a stand up collar, with plain gauntlet cuffs, and two three-pointed flap pockets on the waist seam. It had six metal buttons at the front, and two decorative buttons at the back. The body of the coat was lined with black silk, and skirts with white silk. It was worn with breeches, black silk hose, white bow tie, white gloves, and court shoes (pumps) with steel buckles. The front of the coat was cut away squarely like a standard dress coat.
This is worn with, and has a square cut away front like a dress coat, but the tails are cut significantly shorter.
This was worn as (servant's uniform) and was knee length with a sloped cut away front like a morning coat. It was single breasted with a stand up collar and gilt buttons. There were three pronged side pockets similar in style to the levée dress coat.
Military useMilitary issue tail coat, 1789
From c.1790 until after the a red tail coat with short tails (known as a ) was part of the infantry uniform of the. The collar and cuffs were in the regimental colors and the coats had white braid on the front. Elite light infantry units like the 95th Rifles were issued short green coats to provide camouflage and ease of movement.
The Americans issued a similar uniform in dark blue to enlisted men during the. This remained in service until 1833 when it was replaced with a. Officers continued to wear tail coats until after the when became the standard field wear. By the time the was introduced tail coats had been relegated to full dress.
The had an elaborate hierarchy of tailcoats for the officers, allowing further buttons and gilding according to rank and seniority. These were single-breasted for junior officers and double-breasted for those with the rank of lieutenant and above.
Some wear tailcoats to their meetings. For example, dress for Officers in Australia at official functions and Installations is "Full Evening Dress (Tails) with stiff white shirt and peak collar, white bow tie, white buttons or studs, stiff white waistcoat and white gloves with Full Regalia or Full Evening Dress (Tails) with plain white long-sleeved business shirt, white bow tie, soft white waistcoat and white gloves with Full Regalia or when the prescribed dress of the lodge is lounge/business suit, all members of the Grand Delegation may wear the same, with no gauntlets."
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- Croonborg, Frederick: The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring. Croonborg Sartorial Co. New York and Chicago, 1907
- Cunnington, C. Willett; Cunnington, Phillis (1959): Handbook of English Costume in the 19th Century, Plays Inc, Boston, 1970 reprint
- Devere, Louis: The Handbook of Practical Cutting on the Centre Point System (London, 1866) revised and edited by. R. L. Shep, Mendocino, California, 1986.
- Doyle, Robert: The Art of the Tailor, Sartorial Press Publications, Stratford, Ontario; 2005.
- Druessedow, Jean L. (editor): Men's Fashion Illustration from the Turn of the Century Reprint. Originally published: New York: Jno J. Mitchell Co. 1910. Dover Publications, 1990
- : Dressing the Man, Harper-Collins, 2002.
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- Minister, Edward: The Complete Guide to Practical Cutting (London, 1853) Vol 1 & II. Edited with notes by, Mendocino, California, 1993.
- Peacock, John: Men's Fashion: the complete sourcebook, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1996.
- : Gentleman: a timeless fashion. Könemann, Köln, 2004. Salisbury, W. S.: Salisbury’s System of Actual Measurement and Drafting for all Styles of Coats upon Geometric Principles. New York 1866. Reprinted in Civil War Gentlemen: 1860 Apparel Arts and Uniforms by, Mendocino, California, 1994.
- Tozer, Jane and Sarah Levitt, Fabric of Society: a century of people and their clothes 1770-1870. Laura Ashley Press, Carno, Powys
- Unknown author: The Standard Work on Cutting Men’s Garments. 4th ed. Originally pub. 1886 by Jno J. Mitchell, New York.
- Vincent, W. D. F.: The Cutter’s Practical Guide. Vol II "All kinds of body coats". The John Williamson Company, London, circa 1893.
- Waugh, Norah: The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900, Routledge, London, 1964.
- Whife, A. A. (ed): The Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier. The Caxton Publishing Company Ltd, London, 1951
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