An overarching term used for dinner suits, morning suits, white tie, and other official attire, formalwear can be a bit of a minefield. With this in mind, we understand that unless you’re the personified ultimate male “James Bond” and donning a lethal handgun and classic tuxedo is a regular occurrence, receiving an invitation to that special event can send alarm bells ringing trying to decipher what you’re expected to wear. With Harris & Howard, you’ll be sure to arrive at any occasion in luxury, comfort, and style. Whether you’re looking to dress with allure and excitement in a classic black dinner suit with satin black lapels for the ball, a sophisticated morning coat with a contrasting waistcoat for the races, a crisp white tuxedo for a formal garden party at the palace, or a luxurious velvet smoking jacket for an exquisite dinner, we’ll look after you and help you find the appropriate attire for the event, ensuring you’re the best dressed at the party.
If formal dinners and special events habitually appear in your calendar, you will need a selection of jackets, trousers, dress shirts, and ties so that you make a different impact at each event. Embrace a midnight blue suit or stand out amongst your colleagues in a double-breasted dinner suit. If you’re feeling bold, opt for a fine velvet dinner jacket with smart black trousers. Depending on your occasion, you could be playful with a fancy lining under the formal exterior that will flash as you hit the dance floor. Whatever you choose or your occasion may demand, we can help you feel confident, stylish, and comfortable in a perfectly fitted garment right for the night.
Morning dress is formal attire of remarkable distinction and prestige. Traced back to the 18th century, morning dress, also known as “formal day dress,” is a signature style of British heritage and the single-most formal item of the modern gentleman’s wardrobe. Nowadays known for being the strict dress code requirement for the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot, it’s also generally worn at extravagant weddings, race meetings, reserved dinners, formal daytime events in attendance of the queen and should not be specified to be worn at an event starting after 6 pm.
Originating from the tradition of a gentleman riding horses in the morning, there’s a certain etiquette to follow if you opt to wear the prestigious morning dress. With a beautifully sculpted back cut into tails, the morning coat is to be worn as single-breasted with peak lapels in either matt grey or black wool. The trousers, either in a matching cloth to the coat or grey with black stripes and the waistcoat, single or double-breasted in linen or wool and can be a choice of grey or duck-egg blue. Finally, accessorise with a gallant grey or black top hat, polished black lace-up shoes and preferred over the cravat, complete the ensemble with a beautifully woven silk tie.
The Smoking Jacket
The smoking jacket started as a relatively informal overgarment that first came into fashion in the 17th century when tobacco and opium came into widespread use. The coat would be worn after dinner while the gentleman smoked in the luxury of his home, thus becoming synonymous with a gentleman’s comfort at home. The plush thick velvet of the jacket would absorb the smoke from the tobacco, decreasing the smell and protecting the undergarments from falling ash.
A bold, grand fashion statement, the smoking jacket is worn today as an elegant, versatile piece of evening wear, perfect for lounging or partying. We make our smoking jackets from exceptionally soft velvet, silk, or both with classic details of plain or quilted shawl lapels, velvet buttons on a functional cuff, and if sought, traditional hand-rolled or braided piping.
Less formal than the white tie, but more formal than business dress, black-tie is a sophisticated dress code for a social function. The classic attire for a black-tie event is the dinner suit. Otherwise known as the tuxedo in the US, whether it’s a formal dinner party, chivalrous ball, or prestigious awards ceremony, if the invite says black tie, you can’t go wrong wearing a sharp, tailored dinner suit. Distinguished by the satin or grosgrain lapels and braid down the trouser outseam, a black-tie dinner suit doesn’t have to be black, it’s more popularly midnight blue, but can also be white too.
At Harris & Howard, we make the suit either single or double-breasted, according to your taste, with the classic details of no-vents, satin or grosgrain covered buttons and functional cuffs.
If you’re going to the ballet, opera or a royal banquet, don’t let the phrases “tails,” “dress suit” or “full evening dress” confuse you: these are all otherwise known as the most elegant attire of all formal wear, white tie. Reserved for ceremonial occasions, to be of white tie standard, the event must be an exclusive affair of high standing, indicating that the calibre of guests have high social notoriety, titled or of royalty. By far the most delicate dress code to wear correctly – white tie comes with strict dress code expectancies. For men, there can be no deviations; the attire consists of a black tailcoat worn over a starch white shirt.
At Harris & Howard, we make our long sweeping tailcoats from traditional worsted wool, with the definitive details of grosgrain satin peak lapels, a single vent with pleating at the back and covered buttons on functional cuffs. The classic shirt is thick broadcloth with Marcella bib detailing and has the classic winged collar. A piqué Marcella waistcoat and a clean, white bowtie is a vital must. The trousers should have a high fishtail waist with double black satin braids running along the outseam. It’s optional, but you can stylise the outfit with period white cotton gloves, a top hat, and dress cane. The complete outfit should blend together, establishing a sleek and sophisticated look.
Wesley proved extremely helpful and knowledgeable when it came to a new business suit. I am very happy to recommend his services.
Robert Askey, Barrister