Clothes Make the Man
About 1912, 20th century
Gift of Mrs. Clement M. Badgley
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Suit (38)
Keys to History
The morning coat, with its cutaway skirts, evolved from the sporting styles originally worn at the beginning of the 19th century for riding and shooting. Following the pattern set by the frock coat, the morning coat gradually lost its sporting associations and eventually became formal wear, rather than casual.
By the late 19th century, the once-casual morning coat was not only considered proper business attire, it was also an elegant daytime alternative to the frock coat, which was by this time considered very formal. A man in a morning suit was thought to be "well enough dressed for an afternoon wedding, reception, or tea or any other festive occasion where a dress suit must not be seen."
A New York Clubman, Hints about Men's Dress (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1888).
This morning suit was made for Mr. C. M. Badgley in 1912 by the St. Pierre tailoring firm in Montreal.
The versatile morning coat was as likely to be worn at the office as to a tea party in the 1890s. Bridegrooms still occasionally wear morning coats.
As its name suggests, the morning coat was originally worn before noon, prior to embarking on the real business of the day. Eventually it became acceptable to wear it throughout the day, but never in the evening.
Fashionable men with extensive wardrobes considered the morning coat essential. Men on a budget in the late 1890s were advised to choose the morning coat in preference to the frock coat.