To understand the origins of the morning suit, we must go back to Victorian England, some time in the 1880s. It evolved as something of a compromise between that of the frock coat, the formal style of the time, and the sack suit, an altogether more casual option. The morning coat provided the perfect balance of formality and practicality with its more slender lapels and sweeping curvature in the tail. But what of morning suit trousers? Unlike the morning coat, the accompanying trousers did not take any great design leap. Gentlemen of the time were obliged to wear grey, striped trousers with their frock coats, and these were deemed perfectly reasonable for use with the morning coat. Not much has changed 140 years on. As they say, “if it aint’ broke…”
When most of us think of morning suit trousers, it is the charcoal gray “Cashmere Stripe” variety that typically springs to mind, those being the most traditional style. But in fact there are a number of different options and permutations you can consider, which we shall go into next. Let’s start with fabric…
The Cashmere Stripe
The tried and tested, can’t-go-wrong, classic, traditional morning suit trousers. If in doubt, these are your no.1 option and are perfectly suitable for any and every event wherein morning dress is a requirement. While the stripes may differ slightly in width from trouser to trouser (and most are made from wool rather than actual cashmere), most styles will follow a very similar pattern. Apart from fit, there really isn’t a great deal of aesthetic wiggle room. In other words, you’d have to try very hard to get a pair of cashmere stripe trousers wrong. At Favourbrook, our classic trousers consist of our Calvary stripe trousers in a high-waisted style with a classic fit and a single pleated front. Cut from soft and lightweight Yorkshire wool in a mid grey, these trousers would contrast beautifully with a black jacket for Ascot or a formal wedding. Designed to be worn with braces, the Cavalry trouser has a fishtail back and is finished with adjustable side tabs at the waist and a button fly. Should you find yourself in a more daring mood, there are some other fabric options that should be on your radar:
The least common of the morning suit trousers, check styles are nevertheless an option, particularIy if you hark from the frozen recesses north of the border! One must be careful that checked trousers don’t appear too gimmicky, so we would suggest opting for a classic Prince of Wales check in a rich but deep green. A windowpane check looks too contemporary for our tastes so keep it traditional and you’ll be able to pull it off. Our Blackwatch Tartan trousers are a perfect alternative to the cashmere stripe or houndstooth, with a high waist, slim flat-fronted style, cut from mid weight Scottish tartan wool. Finishing touches are provided by adjustable waist tabs, zip fly and buttons for braces.
Increasing popular these days are the black and white houndstooth check trousers. We say black and white, but the houndstooth is subtle enough to make the trousers generally appear a pale grey colour. They can be particularly elegant when worn with a darker waistcoat and while some may consider the houndstooth to be a slightly less formal style, we’re having none of it. They can be excellent for summer events when one wants a lighter alternative to charcoal grey without going the whole hog with a light grey morning suit a la Prince Charles. Our Houndstooth Trouser is cut from soft and lightweight Yorkshire wool in a black and cream houndstooth weave. Flat-fronted and high-waisted, they have a slim fit leg with adjustable side tabs at the waist, a zip fly, and buttons for braces provide the finishing touches.
Herringbone fabric, woven in a chevron pattern, is rarely seen in formalwear these days but when you can find a pair of morning trousers cut from it, do consider them an excellent step out of the formalwear comfort zone. Much like the houndstooth and cashmere stripe, they should be cut from a contrast grey fabric to the black morning coat. The herringbone pattern should be subtle and imperceptible from distance, revealing itself on closer inspection.
Mastering the fit
The style or cut of the trousers largely comes down to your personal preference. Flat-fronted, single pleats, double pleats, English or Italian pleats, tapered, roomy - all depend on your tastes and your body shape. Pleated styles will naturally have a little more room around the hips whereas flat-front styles will maintain a svelte silhouette. Regarding leg length, the typical rules apply - there should be a slight break at the mid point of the shin, with the trousers gently resting on the laces of your Oxfords. Do not be tempted to modernise the unmodernisable by going for a cropped leg. You’ll find you will be cropped out of all photographic evidence of you attending the event, even if it is your own wedding.
One rule that cannot be bent, broken or forgotten concerns the rise of the trousers - that is, the height of the waist. Under no circumstances must you be able to see any piece of shirt or tie between the bottom of the waistcoat and the top of the trousers. That waistcoat must overlap, so if you are happy with your trouser selection, ensure you consider where your waistcoat must finish when purchasing one. High-waisted trouser styles go some way to eradicating this faux pas but do not always provide the bigger of waist with much comfort.
We hope that covers all your questions regarding how to wear morning suit trousers. If you are in any doubt, please do drop by the store on Pall Mall - our team would be delighted to guide you through the process to ensure you look your very best in formal attire.
Shop all of Favourbrook's trouser styles here.