Formal wear

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Red carpet fashion: Italian actors Gabriel Garko and Laura Torrisi wearing designer formal wear at Venice Film Festival, 2009 Gabriel Garko and Laura Torrisi - nicogenin - 66eme Festival de Venise (Mostra) - The Road (3).jpg
Red carpet fashion: Italian actors Gabriel Garko and Laura Torrisi wearing designer formal wear at Venice Film Festival, 2009

Formal wear, formal attire or full dress is the traditional Western dress code category applicable for the most formal occasions, such as weddings, christenings, confirmations, funerals, Easter and Christmas traditions, in addition to certain state dinners, audiences, balls, and horse racing events. Formal wear is traditionally divided into formal day and evening wear; implying morning dress (morning coat) before 6 p.m., and white tie (dress coat) after 6 p.m.[ citation needed ] Generally permitted other alternatives, though, are the most formal versions of ceremonial dresses (including court dresses, diplomatic uniforms and academic dresses), full dress uniforms, religious clothing, national costumes, and most rarely frock coats (which preceded morning coat as default formal day wear 1820s-1920s). In addition, formal wear is often instructed to be worn with official full size orders and medals.

The protocol indicating particularly men's traditional formal wear has remained virtually unchanged since the early 20th century. Despite decline following the counterculture of the 1960s, it remains observed in formal settings influenced by Western culture: notably around Europe, the Americas, South Africa, Australia, as well as Japan. For women, although fundamental customs for formal ball gowns (and wedding gowns) likewise apply, changes in fashion have been more dynamic. Traditional formal headgear for men is the top hat, and for women picture hats etc. of a range of interpretations. Shoes for men are dress shoes, dress boots or pumps and for women heeled dress pumps. In western countries, a "formal" or white tie dress code typically means tailcoats for men and full-length evening dresses with opera-length gloves for women. A most formal dress for women are full-length ball or evening gowns with evening gloves. Some white tie functions also request that the women wear long gloves past the elbow.

Formal wear being the most formal dress code, it is followed by semi-formal wear, equivalently based around daytime black lounge suit, and evening black tie (dinner suit/tuxedo), and evening gown for women. The male lounge suit and female cocktail dress in turn only comes after this level, traditionally associated with informal attire. Notably, if a level of flexibility is indicated (for example "uniform, morning coat or lounge suit", such as seen to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018), the hosts tend to wear the most formal interpretation of that dress code in order to save guests the inconvenience of out-dressing.

Since the most formal versions of national costumes are typically permitted as supplementary alternatives to the uniformity of Western formal dress codes, conversely, since most cultures have at least intuitively applied some equivalent level of formality, the versatile framework of Western formal dress codes open to amalgamation of international and local customs have influenced its competitiveness as international standard. From these social conventions derive in turn also the variants worn on related occasions of varying solemnity, such as formal political, diplomatic, and academic events, in addition to certain parties including award ceremonies, balls, fraternal orders, high school proms, etc.

History

Clothing norms and fashions fluctuated regionally in the Middle Ages.

More widespread conventions emerged around royal courts in Europe in the more interconnected Early Modern era. The justacorps with cravat, breeches and tricorne hat was established as the first suit (in an anarchaic sense) by the 1660s-1790s. It was sometimes distinguished by day and evening wear.

By the Age of Revolution in the Late Modern era, it was replaced by the previously causal country leisure wear-associated front cutaway dress coat around the 1790s-1810s. At the same time, breeches were gradually replaced by pantaloons, as where tricorne hats by bicorne hats and ultimately by the top hat by the 19th century and henceforth.

By the 1820s, the dress coat was replaced as formal day wear by the dark closed-front knee-length frock coat. However, the dress coat from the transition period was maintained as formal evening wear with white tie, remaining so until this day.

By the 1840s, the first cutaway morning coats of contemporary style emerged, which would eventually replace the frock coat as formal day wear by the 1920s.

Likewise, starting from the 1860s, fashion was further variegated by the gradual introduction of the sportive, shorter suit jacket, likewise originating in the country leisure wear. This evolved into the semi-formal evening wear black tie from the 1880s and the informal wear suit accepted by polite society from the 1920s.

Dress codes

The dress codes counted as formal wear are the formal dress codes of morning dress for daytime and white tie for evenings. Although some consider strollers for daytime and black tie for the evening as formal, they are traditionally considered semi-formal attires, sartorially speaking below in formality level.[ citation needed ]

The clothes dictated by these dress codes for women are ball gowns. For many uniforms, the official clothing is unisex. Examples of this are court dress, academic dress, and military full dress uniform.

Morning dress

Morning dress is the daytime formal dress code, consisting chiefly for men of a morning coat, waistcoat, and striped trousers, and an appropriate dress for women.

White tie

The required clothing for men, in the evening, is roughly the following:

Women wear a variety of dresses. See ball gowns, evening gowns, and wedding dresses. Business attire for women has a developmental history of its own and generally looks different from formal dress for social occasions.

Supplementary alternatives

Many invitations to white tie events, like the last published edition of the British Lord Chamberlain's Guide to Dress at Court, explictely state that national costume or national dress may be substituted for white tie. [2] [3]

In general, each of the supplementary alternatives applies equally for both day attire, and evening attire.

Ceremonial dress

Diplomatic reception in West Germany (1961); the Danish ambassador wears a red diplomatic uniform, the British ambassador a dark one. Danish and UK diplomatic uniform 1961.jpg
Diplomatic reception in West Germany (1961); the Danish ambassador wears a red diplomatic uniform, the British ambassador a dark one.

Including court dresses, diplomatic uniforms, and academic dresses.

Full dress uniform

Prior to World War II formal style of military dress, often referred to as full dress uniform, was generally restricted to the British, British Empire and United States armed forces; although the French, Imperial German, Swedish and other navies had adopted their own versions of mess dress during the late nineteenth century, influenced by the Royal Navy. [4]

In the U.S. Army, evening mess uniform, in either blue or white, is considered the appropriate military uniform for white-tie occasions. [5] [ citation needed ] The blue mess and white mess uniforms are black tie equivalents, although the Army Service Uniform with bow tie are accepted, especially for non-commissioned officers and newly commissioned officers. For white-tie occasions, of which there are almost none in the United States outside the national capital region for U.S. Army, an officer must wear a wing-collar shirt with white tie and white vest. For black tie occasions, officers must wear a turndown collar with black tie and black cummerbund. The only outer coat prescribed for both black- and white-tie events is the army blue cape with branch color lining. [6]

Religious clothing

Certain clergy wear, in place of white tie outfits, a cassock with ferraiolone, which is a light-weight ankle-length cape intended to be worn indoors. The colour and fabric of the ferraiolone is determined by the rank of the cleric and can be scarlet watered silk, purple silk, black silk or black wool. For outerwear, the black cape (cappa nigra), also known as a choir cape (cappa choralis), is most traditional. It is a long black woolen cloak fastened with a clasp at the neck and often has a hood. Cardinals and bishops may also wear a black plush hat or, less formally, a biretta. In practice, the cassock and especially the ferraiolone have become much less common and no particular formal attire has appeared to replace them. The most formal alternative is a clerical waistcoat incorporating a Roman collar (a rabat) worn with a collarless French cuff shirt and a black suit, although this is closer to black-tie than white tie.

Historically, clerics in the Church of England would wear a knee-length cassock called an apron, accompanied by a tailcoat with silk facings but no lapels, for a white tie occasion. In modern times this is rarely seen. However, if worn, the knee-length cassock is now replaced with normal dress trousers.

Folk costume

In Western formal state ceremonies and social functions, diplomats, foreign dignitaries, and guests of honor wear a Western formal dress if not wearing their own national dress.

Many cultures have a formal day and evening dress, for example:

Frock coat

Heads of government wearing frock coats at the formal signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 Versailles 1919.jpg
Heads of government wearing frock coats at the formal signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919

Although ceased as a protocol-regulated required formal attire at the British royal court in 1936 at the order of the short-reigning King Edward VIII, the frock coat - embodying the background for all contemporary civil formal wear - has not altogether vanished. Yet, it is a rarity mostly confined to infrequent appearances at certain weddings.

The state funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965 included bearers of frock coats. [7]

To this day, King Tupou VI of Tonga (born 1959) has been a frequent wearer of frock coats at formal occasions.

Also more recent fashion has been inspired by frock coats: Prada's autumn editions of 2012, [8] Alexander McQueen's menswear in the autumn of 2017, [9] and Paul Smith's autumn 2018. [10]

Morning dress

White tie

See also

Related Research Articles

Black tie Semi-formal western dress code; dinner suit, tuxedo

Black tie is a semi-formal Western dress code for evening events, originating in British and American conventions for attire in the 19th century. In British English, the dress code is often referred to synecdochically by its principal element for men, the dinner suit or dinner jacket. In American English the equivalent term tuxedo is common. The dinner suit is a black, midnight blue or white two- or three-piece suit, distinguished by satin or grosgrain jacket lapels and similar stripes along the outseam of the trousers. It is worn with a white dress shirt with standing or turndown collar and link cuffs, a black bow tie, typically an evening waistcoat or a cummerbund, and black patent leather dress shoes or court pumps. Accessories may include a semi-formal homburg, bowler, or boater hat. For women, an evening gown or other fashionable evening attire may be worn.

<i>Changshan</i>

A changshan is a traditional Chinese dress worn by men. In function, it is considered the male equivalent of the women's cheongsam (qipao). It is also known as a changpao or dagua. It was often worn by men with a magua or "riding jacket". These types of dress were widely adopted beginning under the Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty, who required that men in certain positions wear this style.

White tie Style of formal dressing

White tie, also called full evening dress or a dress suit, is the most formal in traditional evening western dress codes. For men, it consists of a black tail coat worn over a white shirt, white piqué waistcoat and the eponymous white bow tie worn around a standing wing collar. Mid or high-waisted black trousers with galon, a trim one with two silk stripes that conceal the outer seams of the trousers, along with black highly polished or patent leather oxford or optionally court shoes, complete the outfit. Orders, decorations and medals may be worn. Acceptable accessories include a black top hat, white gloves, a white scarf, a pocket watch, a white pocket square, and a boutonnière. Women wear full-length ball or evening gowns with evening gloves and, optionally, tiaras, jewellery, and a small handbag. Some white-tie functions also request that the women wear long gloves past the elbow.

Court dress Style of clothes prescribed for courts of law

Court dress comprises the style of clothes and other attire prescribed for members of courts of law. Depending on the country and jurisdiction's traditions, members of the court may wear formal robes, gowns, collars, or wigs. Even within a certain country and court setting, there may be times when the full formal dress is not used, such as in trials involving children.

A tailcoat is a knee-length coat characterised by a rear section of the skirt, known as the tails, with the front of the skirt cut away.

1870s in Western fashion Costume and fashion of the 1870s

1870s fashion in European and European-influenced clothing is characterized by a gradual return to a narrow silhouette after the full-skirted fashions of the 1850s and 1860s.

Frock coat Mens formal knee-length coat

A frock coat is a formal men's coat characterised by a knee-length skirt cut all around the base just above the knee, popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods (1820s–1920s). It is a fitted, long-sleeved coat with a centre vent at the back and some features unusual in post-Victorian dress. These include the reverse collar and lapels, where the outer edge of the lapel is often cut from a separate piece of cloth from the main body and also a high degree of waist suppression around the waistcoat, where the coat's diameter round the waist is less than round the chest. This is achieved by a high horizontal waist seam with side bodies, which are extra panels of fabric above the waist used to pull in the naturally cylindrical drape. As was usual with all coats in the 19th century, shoulder padding was rare or minimal.

Morning dress Jacket worn with mens morning dress

Morning dress, also known as formal day dress, is the formal Western dress code for day attire, consisting chiefly of, for men, a morning coat, waistcoat, and formal trousers, and an appropriate gown for women. Men may also wear a popular variant where all parts are the same colour and material, often grey and usually called "morning suit" or "morning grey" to distinguish it; considered properly appropriate only to festive functions such as summer weddings and horse races, which consequently makes it slightly less formal. The correct hat would be a formal top hat, or if on less spacious audience settings optionally a collapsible equivalent opera hat.

Clerical clothing is non-liturgical clothing worn exclusively by clergy. It is distinct from vestments in that it is not reserved specifically for services. Practices vary: is sometimes worn under vestments, and sometimes as the everyday clothing or street wear of a priest, minister, or other clergy member. In some cases, it can be similar or identical to the habit of a monk or nun.

In Western clothing, semi-formal is a grouping of dress codes indicating the sort of clothes worn to events with a level of protocol between informal and formal. In the modern era, the typical interpretation for men is black tie for evening wear and black lounge suit for day wear, corresponded by evening dress or cocktail dress for women.

1850s in Western fashion Costume and fashion of the 1850s

1850s fashion in Western and Western-influenced clothing is characterized by an increase in the width of women's skirts supported by crinolines or hoops, the mass production of sewing machines, and the beginnings of dress reform. Masculine styles began to originate more in London, while female fashions originated almost exclusively in Paris.

Court uniform and dress in the United Kingdom

Court uniform and dress were required to be worn by those in attendance at the royal court in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

1880s in Western fashion Costume and fashion of the 1880s

1880s fashion in the in Western and Western-influenced countries is characterized by the return of the bustle. The long, lean line of the late 1870s was replaced by a full, curvy silhouette with gradually widening shoulders. Fashionable waists were low and tiny below a full, low bust supported by a corset. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in reaction to the extremes of fashionable corsetry.

Western dress codes are dress codes in Western culture about what clothes are worn for what occasion. Classifications are traditionally divided into formal wear, semi-formal wear, and informal wear (undress). The first two are sometimes in turn divided into day and evening wear. In western countries, a "formal" or white tie dress code typically means tailcoats for men and full-length evening dresses with opera-length gloves for women. A most formal dress for women are full-length ball or evening gowns with evening gloves. Anything below this level is referred to as casual wear, although sometimes in combinations such as "smart casual" or "business casual" in order to indicate higher expectation than none at all.

Informal wear

Informal wear, also called business wear, corporate/office wear, tenue de ville and (colloquially) dress clothes, is a Western dress code for clothing defined by a dress shirt with necktie or a polo shirt, sometimes with a business suit for men, and cocktail dress or pant suit for women. On the scale of formality, it is considered less formal than semi-formal wear but more formal than casual wear, yet retaining availability for more personal expression than semi-formal wear. Thus, informal should not be confused with casual wear such as business casual or smart casual despite that some people may refer loosely to informal dress as "formal" in contrast with merely casual.

Black lounge suit Mens semi-formal daytime attire

The black lounge suit (UK), stroller (U.S.), or Stresemann, is a men's day attire semi-formal intermediate of a formal morning dress and an informal lounge suit; comprising grey striped or checked formal trousers, but distinguished by a conventional-length lounge jacket, single- or double-breasted in black, midnight blue or grey. This makes it largely identical to the formal morning dress from which it is derived, only having exchanged the morning coat with a suit jacket, yet with equivalent options otherwise, such as necktie or bowtie for neckwear, a waistcoat, French cuffs dress shirt of optional collar type, and black dress shoes or dress boots. The correct hat would be a semi-formal homburg, bowler, or boater hat. Just as morning dress is considered the formal daytime equivalent of formal evening attire dress coat i e. white tie, so the stroller is considered the semi-formal daytime equivalent of the semi-formal evening attire dinner jacket i.e. black tie. Unlike other dress codes, there is no clear equivalent for women, though typical morning dress and cocktail dress have both been identified as alternatives.

1900s in Western fashion Costume and fashion in the decade 1900-1910

Fashion in the period 1900–1909 in the Western world continued the severe, long and elegant lines of the late 1890s. Tall, stiff collars characterize the period, as do women's broad hats and full "Gibson Girl" hairstyles. A new, columnar silhouette introduced by the couturiers of Paris late in the decade signaled the approaching abandonment of the corset as an indispensable garment.

Religious clothing is clothing which is worn in accordance with religious practice, tradition or significance to a faith group. It includes clerical clothing such as cassocks, and religious habit, robes, and other vestments. Accessories include hats, wedding rings, crucifixes, etc.

The man's suit of clothes, in the sense of a lounge or business or office suit, is a set of garments which are crafted from the same cloth. This article discusses the history of the lounge suit, often called a business suit when made in dark colors and of conservative cut.

Formal trousers

Formal trousers, also known as formal striped trousers or colloquially spongebag trousers, are grey striped or patterned formal trousers for day attire in traditional Western dress code, primarily associated with formal morning dress or secondly its semi-formal equivalent black lounge suit. Traditionally made from heavy wool ranging from worsted, melton to partial twill weave, the pattern is most often of a muted design in stripes of black, silver, white and charcoal grey in various combinations. In addition, formal trousers may also come in check patterns, such as houndstooth check, or plaids, although these variants are widely considered as not the most formal.

References

  1. https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/tuxedo-black-tie-guide/vintage-evening-wear/waistcoats-vests-cummerbunds/
  2. Canadian Heritage (1985). "Dress". "Diplomatic and Consular Relations and Protocol" External Affairs. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  3. Nobleprize.org. "The Dress Code at the Nobel Banquet: What to wear?".
  4. Knötel, Knötel & Sieg (1980), pp. 442–445.
  5. http://www.ncoguide.com/files/da-pam-670_1.pdf
  6. http://www.ncoguide.com/files/da-pam-670_1.pdf
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQldUeevrQQ
  8. https://www.vogue.co.uk/shows/autumn-winter-2012-menswear/prada/collection
  9. https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/frock-coat/
  10. https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2018-menswear/paul-smith/slideshow/collection