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Formal Attire Dress Code

Morning/Day For Him

(UK and Commonwealth)


Top Hat
Grey or black silk.

Take it off when inside.



Traditionally grey.
Ascot / Cravat
A wide tie normally secured with a band these days.


Popular for the head table at weddings.


Black or grey.

Also known as a Swallow Tail Coat.

The standard White Tie day time dress.

A tail coat has a horizontal cutaway design, waist length at the front and sides and knee length at the back.
Morning Coat
Black or grey.

Also known as a Cutaway.

The standard "Morning Dress" dress.

Single breasted.

In the modern era, the Morning Coat is normally reserved for weddings, funerals,and formal horse racing events such as Royal Ascot.

Traditionally when worn at weddings, only the Bridegroom and bride's father wear grey coats.

The cutaway design was originally designed to accommodate horse riding, and is therefore slightly less formal than a Frock Coat but the latter has fallen out of fashion.

A morning coat has a curved cutaway design.
Frock Coat
Double Breasted.

Peaked Lapels.

Knee Length with no cutaway.

More traditional and archaic than a Morning Coat which has since replaced it for most daytime formal events. It is still sometimes chosen for weddings.

Waist Coat

Waist Coat
Grey or buff are traditional, although other colours can be acceptable. Black is normally reserved for funerals.

Double breasted.


Formal Shirt
Stiff Collar.

Double cuffed with long collar if worn with a long tie.

Single cuffed and winged if worn with a cravat such as at weddings.


Cotton, linen, or silk.

True traditionalists have detachable collar and cuffs.

If not worn with studs the shirt often has a flap of material over the buttons.


Formal Trousers
Grey to match a grey morning coat or grey/black striped with a black coat.

Two satin seams down the outside leg.

No turn ups/cuffs. No belt loops (normally worn with braces).



Knee length.

Silk (ribbed)


Formal Shoes

Lace up.

No toe cap or decorative brogueing.

Patent leather in the evening, non-patent leather during the day.
Oxford Boots
Button Boots
Jodhpur Boots
Are acceptable at the races.
Chelsea Boots
Are acceptable at the races.
Court Shoes / Opera Shoes / Formal Shoes
Patent leather.

Silk (ribbed) bow.


Opera Coat


Preferably pearl.
Formal Gloves

Kid leather, suede, or chamois.

Normally carried rather than worn.

Preferably pearl.

To support the trousers.
White silk or linen.

A flower for your jacket button hole.
Buttonhole Flower


Black Tie and Evening Dresses
White Tie or full formal dress is actually very rare in the modern era and only normally required at Royal events, high class opera or ballet, or by the wedding party at a marriage ceremony.

As a result, formal dress often means Black Tie and Evening Dresses in common usage (what was historically known as semi-formal dress).

Christmas dinners, award ceremonies, proms, and charity dinners, all commonly expect Black Tie, but may often be described as formal. This is often worth clarifying to avoid mis-understandings.
Military Dress Uniform
A military mess uniform is suitable for a formal event.

You must be entitled to wear the uniform.

In the navy 'Mess Dress' is worn for formal events.
Scottish Dress
Scottish dress is suitable for formal events, and is common in Scotland. However, you should be sure to have a claim upon a tartan before wearing it.

Scottish dress consists of a black jacket (Prince Charlie, Montrose, Sheriffmuir, Argyll, Regulation Doublets), black waistcoat, kilt or trews (a form of high top trouser without side seams, and cut on the cross-grain), collarless dress shirt (see above), white bow tie or lace jabot, kilt hose, black Ghillie brogues, flashes and sporran.
Traditional Dress
Traditional dress is always appropriate for formal events.


Formal and Semi-Formal
In high society, White Tie and Ball Gowns was the standard formal form of dress for social gatherings. It shows the wealth of the upper classes and their familiarity of etiquette, and is still expected at the very highest class of event.

However, such elaborate presentation is not very practical for frequent usage, and so the semi-formal dress code Black Tie, consisting of Dinner Jackets and Evening Dress or even the shorter Cocktail Dress was established, for dining in a sophisticated manner, without the impracticalities and lavishness of full formal dress. Overtime, this has become the more standard form of dress for most formal events.