Guide To Formal Dressing
We have set out below some traditions that determine which garments should be worn at particular occasions. Some rules, regulations and traditions have been relaxed over time in order to allow you some flexibility.
Morning Wear (Tailcoats etc):
- Church weddings
- Royal Ascot (mandatory for the Royal Enclosure)
- Trooping the Colour- The Queens Birthday Parade
- Buckingham Palace Invitations / Ceremonies
- Royal Garden Parties and other Royal Events
- Memorial / remembrance services and funerals (occasionally)
Traditionally at weddings male guests have worn morning dress. Recently there has been a trend for male guests to wear lounge suits, but the groom still tends to wear the more traditional morning suit. A morning coat should be black or grey although navy and green have increased in popularity. Trousers should be charcoal striped or grey if wearing a grey jacket. If in doubt you are advised to consult your host. As a rule though the groom, best man, father of-the-bride and ushers should all wear morning dress. A plain white shirt, with waistcoat and silk tie should also be worn. The waistcoat and tie have traditionally been dove grey, but coloured waistcoats and ties are a perfectly acceptable alternative as they add tone and individuality to an outfit. NB: We strongly suggest that grooms consult the bride-to-be on colour schemes for waistcoats, ties and buttonholes!
The dress code at Royal Ascot falls into two categories. If you are attending the Royal Enclosure, other than top hats in black or grey which are compulsory, the rules are similar to a wedding where a degree of individual colour is acceptable. However for guests not in the Royal Enclosure a lounge suit or other morning wear is preferred choice of most.
For Trooping the Colour, Buckingham Palace Invitations / Ceremonies, Royal Garden Parties and important memorial services, the dress requirement is stricter and traditional rules have remained in place. Morning coats must be either black or grey. Waistcoats should be plain grey and worn above a white shirt, with no decorations. A grey or black top hat is also often compulsory.
Evening Wear (Dinner Jackets / Tuxedos / Evening Tailcoats / Black & White Tie etc):
- Balls and Receptions
- Dinner at sea while cruising.
- Evening Events
Dinner jackets can be either single or double breasted and should traditionally be worn with a dress white shirt with a classic collar (although wing collared shirts are also extremely popular). Simple black and white is still the most popular (and the most correct) and should still be worn to most formal occasions. Rules and traditions, however, no longer restrict most "Black Tie" functions and so it is possible to pick and choose your own colour preference of bow tie, waistcoat and/or cummerbund.
We also supply white tuxedo jackets. These are still worn with white dress shirts, black dress trousers and a black bow tie but offer an alternative “look”. This look is extremely popular with those who are traveling to hot countries and with North Americans.
This traditional Scots outfit was once worn only by the Scots themselves and then only when in the Highlands.
However since today's man requires more individuality and has less care for etiquette, Highland wear has evolved from a purely Scottish tradition to a fashion alternative for men's formal hire and is now suitable for any day or evening event. Strictly speaking though Englishmen who choose to wear the kilt should only wear the Blackwatch, Royal or Highland Stewart tartan. If the event is an evening one then the Highland kit should be worn with a black bow tie and wing collared shirt. A sporran must be worn with a kilt and remember "a true Scot will wear nothing under his kilt except his bravery ". Sporrans are designed to weigh the kilt down so as to avoid embarrassing moments while dancing. For the complete Highland ensemble there are various other accessories that could be worn and they include a belt around the kilt, a skean-dhu (a ceremonial dagger) and black laced ghillie brogues (shoes) tied over cream hose (socks) held up with coloured flashes (garters)!
If the Highland wear is to be worn during the day then an Argyll jacket will do instead. It is a slightly different cut from the black Prince Charlie jacket and does not have a waistcoat.
The final alternative is the Ghillie Shirt. This is an open necked shirt with lace across the front. It is traditionally worn without a jacket.
- The bottom button on a waistcoat should always be left undone except with Evening Tailcoats (White Tie).
- A cummerbund & waistcoat or cummerbund & braces should never be worn together.
- If a cummerbund is worn the pleats should face up (as, traditionally, the pleated belt was designed to carry opera or theatre tickets between the folds).
- A cummerbund or waistcoat is not usually worn with a double breasted dinner jacket.
Children's Formal Wear
We stock children's sizes for morning wear and Highland wear. The same dress rules apply to children as for grown ups.