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Putting on the Ritz - Morning Dress in America

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I just had a listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing Irwin Berlin's Putting on the Ritz and it suddenly dawned on me she is singing about dapper chappies down Park Avenue in morning dress with the 'cutaway' coat and striped trousers:


Have you seen the well-to-do
Up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air

High hats and narrow collars
White spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

Now, if you're blue
And you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits
Puttin' on the Ritz
Different types who wear a daycoat
Pants with stripes and cutaway coat
Perfect fits
Puttin' on the Ritz

Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper
Super-duper

Come, let's mix where Rockefellers
Walk with sticks or "umberellas"
In their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz

------ short instrumental break ------

Tips his hat just like an English chappie
To a lady with a wealthy pappy
Very snappy

You'll declare it's simply topping
To be there and hear them swapping
Smart tidbits
Puttin' on the Ritz


Without recycling old arguments about whether morning dress is historical costume in the United States, I couldn't help but think what a shame if that were indeed the case.




post #2 of 16
I notice that Mr. Cooper wears a wing collar with his morning attire in both photos. I was under the impression that people considered the wing collar to be a faux pas or at least an anachronism with morning clothes by this time.

I am not familiar with the movie. Are Irving Berlin's lyrics written about this Gary Cooper movie/story? Perhaps the storyline depicts an earlier time not contemporary with Mr. Cooper?




Are you able to offer some sartorial light for my dark nook of confusion?
_______________________________________________
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Canvas
I notice that Mr. Cooper wears a wing collar with his morning attire in both photos. I was under the impression that people considered the wing collar to be a faux pas or at least an anachronism with morning clothes by this time.

I am not familiar with the movie. Are Irving Berlin's lyrics written about this Gary Cooper movie/story? Perhaps the storyline depicts an earlier time not contemporary with Mr. Cooper?

http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i6...ers-Detail.jpg
http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i6...WeddingDay.jpg

Are you able to offer some sartorial light for my dark nook of confusion?
_______________________________________________

I too am unfamiliar with the setting of the Gary Cooper films. However, in the first picture you can see a gentleman over his right shoulder in what appears to be a winged collar with very old fashioned large wings worn with what could be a cravat tied in a Ruche knot. This would also suggest that the setting is a period one.

The practice of wearing a long tie with winged collars is indeed old fashioned, although once a common practice with both a lounge suit as well as morning dress:



The other thing that is equally old fashioned is the wearing of a bow tie with morning dress:



You see bow ties from time to time with frock coats and striped trousers but the practice fell away after the 1910's.. Clemenceau still wore a bow tie and frock coat at the formal signing of the Treaty of Versaillles in 1919.

In the modern era turndown collars become the norm for morning dress. This comes from the Royal Ascot in 1914:



Charles too wore a turndown collar with long tie to his recent wedding:



However, cravats are still favoured by Italian writers for weddings. This examples comes from Brioni:

post #4 of 16
Thanks. So . . . the debate continues! Even a Club Collar enters the fray at Ascot.

I just visited Mr. Gilchrist's rumpus room and saw your remarks among the others there. http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/f...252#post450252

It's just after three p.m. Nevertheless, Mr. Kabbaz's banter about a martini does sound rather appealing. I am at the office though. So, I shall wait until later to indulge!
______________________________________
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Canvas
Thanks. So . . . the debate continues! Even a Club Collar enters the fray at Ascot.

I just visited Mr. Gilchrist's rumpus room and saw your remarks among the others there. http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/f...252#post450252

It's just after three p.m. Nevertheless, Mr. Kabbaz's banter about a martini does sound rather appealing. I am at the office though. So, I shall wait until later to indulge!
______________________________________

Let's hope some of the Brits join in the discussion as morning dress is worn much more commonly in that part of the world.
post #6 of 16
If I ever saw someone walking down Park in that level of dress, I would probably shed of tear of joy.

Wing collars. I know you'll come back some day. Please.

Arg
post #7 of 16
It is in my intentions to have a morning dress made sooner or later... I'm just debating with myself over a traditional morning coat, a mid-gray morning suit, or a black lounge jacket with striped trousers.
Of course the goal is to look uniquely sharp at daytime celebratory occurrences without looking like a confused time traveler. I'm tending toward the mid-gray morning suit as per http://www.blacktieguide.com/Supplemental/Morning_Dress.htm.

Also, I have trouble placing the cravat in formality. It's definitely not for black tie, it not being black, nor a tie... Does it really work with morning formal wear? What sort of collar do you need for cravats?
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post

I just had a listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing Irwin Berlin's Putting on the Ritz and it suddenly dawned on me she is singing about dapper chappies down Park Avenue in morning dress with the 'cutaway' coat and striped trousers:


Have you seen the well-to-do

Up and down Park Avenue

On that famous thoroughfare

With their noses in the air


High hats and narrow collars

White spats and lots of dollars

Spending every dime

For a wonderful time


Now, if you're blue

And you don't know where to go to

Why don't you go where fashion sits

Puttin' on the Ritz

Different types who wear a daycoat

Pants with stripes and cutaway coat

Perfect fits

Puttin' on the Ritz


Dressed up like a million dollar trooper

Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper

Super-duper


Come, let's mix where Rockefellers

Walk with sticks or "umberellas"

In their mitts

Puttin' on the Ritz



short instrumental break


Tips his hat just like an English chappie

To a lady with a wealthy pappy

Very snappy


You'll declare it's simply topping

To be there and hear them swapping

Smart tidbits

Puttin' on the Ritz

A tiny quibble. I think it's supposed to be "High hats and Arrow collars", a reference to a very popular brand of detachable collars at the time.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJosef View Post

It is in my intentions to have a morning dress made sooner or later... I'm just debating with myself over a traditional morning coat, a mid-gray morning suit, or a black lounge jacket with striped trousers.
Of course the goal is to look uniquely sharp at daytime celebratory occurrences without looking like a confused time traveler. I'm tending toward the mid-gray morning suit as per http://www.blacktieguide.com/Supplemental/Morning_Dress.htm.

Also, I have trouble placing the cravat in formality. It's definitely not for black tie, it not being black, nor a tie... Does it really work with morning formal wear? What sort of collar do you need for cravats?

I have to admit that I've been thinking more and more about getting a morning coat made too. I've taken the plunge with regard to tails (white tie): I had one made last year.

I'm struck by the irony that today, there are relatively more occasions for white tie than there are for morning dress, especially given that the former is more formal than the latter. I received delivery of my tails in November and I've already had two occasions to wear it (there was actually a third event calling for white tie but I was out of town). And there are at least two white tie events coming up between now and March.

But morning dress? I struggle to think of any occasion when it would be appropriate to put one on, short of attending Royal Ascot or my own wedding. Unless people are actually wearing morning dress to Royal Ascot equivalents in the U.S. e.g. the Kentucky Derby (which I doubt) I can't quite imagine how owning morning dress would actually make sense today.

And if I ever were to get a morning coat made, I would ditch the cravat and wing collar option and go the modern route: turndown collar and a tie.
post #10 of 16

The safest route seems the most boring, the black lounge jacket with striped trousers.

Even though they are rather obscure, President Reagan wore them to his inauguration, which kind of validates them, and they are subtle enough not to offend those not in the know, while sending a message to those who are.

post #11 of 16
I'm having a black (dark charcoal actually) getup made for my upcoming wedding. Even though I'm in the UK, I can't see myself going to enough morning coat events to justify the cost of having one made. I had been doubting a shorter morning cutaway, as provided by Favourbrook, but decided that in the end, black lounge would be slightly more versatile. These are the fabrics and the tie I intend to wear:



It is, however, wrong to think that white tie is more formal than morning dress. They are equally formal, the difference lies only in the time of day at which they are worn.

In order not to look like a traveler from faraway times, I'd concur. Try to look like this:



Not this:

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJosef View Post

It is in my intentions to have a morning dress made sooner or later... I'm just debating with myself over a traditional morning coat, a mid-gray morning suit, or a black lounge jacket with striped trousers.
Of course the goal is to look uniquely sharp at daytime celebratory occurrences without looking like a confused time traveler. I'm tending toward the mid-gray morning suit as per http://www.blacktieguide.com/Supplemental/Morning_Dress.htm.

Also, I have trouble placing the cravat in formality. It's definitely not for black tie, it not being black, nor a tie... Does it really work with morning formal wear? What sort of collar do you need for cravats?

 



Your best bet to remain under the fashionista radar is to wear a stroller [black lounge with striped, check, or plaid trousers] and avoid the wearing of a cutaway as required by the other two choices of morningwear.  A morning suit is a very limited utility and practically an orphan, even where it is embraced and respected. Not all morningwear has a practical application at present, except a stroller which works very well for nearly every day occasion from board meetings to making social calls.

 

I wear a stroller as morningwear all the time and no one is the wiser, especially if I leave the waistcoat at home or replace with a cardigan for additional warmth.

 

I most commonly wear a black cashmere SB jacket with black and white Glen plaid trousers to good effect in the winter when stateside for many day to early evening events including calling on friends. When the event is somewhat more formal than attending a gathering or informal reception, such as a matinee performance of some sort, I replace the plaid trousers with others which are appropriately striped and put on a waistcoat.  I will do this until Easter or so, when I put on the single breasted peak lapel black worsted tropical jacket I maintain for warmer weather.

 

The single breasted peak lapel jackets now in fashion are a close approximation of a stroller and near dead on when black fabric of some sort, assuming they lack hacking pockets and such. But then again, maybe you do intend to wear your stroller on horseback where these features might be useful. If you go double breasted, you can leave the waistcoat at home and enjoy fairly warm weather with your stroller if it is a tropical weave.

 

Houndstooth trousers will also supply a proper look when the pattern and color are correct. A SB notch lapel will definitely keep you under the radar, even if it is not entirely correct. But remember, a stroller is IN-formal wear just like dinner jackets and tuxedos, so a little rule bending is more than acceptable.

 

Good luck finding the proper gloves to wear with your stroller as outerwear. It is very tricky business, but possible. While gray lambskin gloves will work, those made from yellow peccary are the outstanding choice.

post #13 of 16
A leaf can be taken out of other countries' books: this is the new government of Japan:

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerC View Post

A leaf can be taken out of other countries' books: this is the new government of Japan:

Looks like a picture of a board of directors. That's how they dress there for their meetings, in contrast to the a board meeting I attended last summer in California where one interesting chap wore flip-flops, because he could.

 

I was at the beach that morning as well, but I somehow found time to tie my shoes.confused.gif

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerC View Post



Those fabrics look great, especially the stripes for the trousers. Is that pattern what would be referred to as a "Cashmere Stripe"?

What sort of waistcoat are you thinking?
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