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Cutaway coat vs frock coat...

ericcomposer

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OK, this may be a very quirky idea I have, but when I get an idea, I go with it!

I was considering wearing (purchasing) a 3/4 length frock coat with a vest & ascot for my wedding this coming May. I wanted a more "19th Century" look, and I was even hoping that I might use the frock coat again when conducting concerts (with orchestra/choir), as I'm sure it would stand out from the usual tailcoat or tuxedo.

Now, I was thinking about going for a single-breasted coat. I know double-breasted coats worn unbuttoned with a vest were quite popular at one time, but I feel having all of that fabric flapping around may be a bit much- I want it to look slightly cleaner...


This look may be a stretch for my fiance to go for it... she is, however, very much into the cutaway coat look. Now, same idea- if I were to purchase a cutaway coat, I'm worried that it wouldn't be appropriate to wear when conducting for two reasons: 1. It is usually designated for daytime wear, and 2. In itself, to the untrained onlooker, it may not look that much different from a normal tailcoat, so the idea of making a "statement" would be diminished.


Anyone have any thoughts? How about the idea of wearing a cutaway coat for evening concerts? Do you think it would be passable to say that I am "making a statement" by wearing daytime attire for an evening event? Is the distinction obsolete this day in age?

Thank you!
 

Anthony Jordan

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I would certainly favour the single-breasted frock coat option if you are looking for something which you can later wear in lieu of evening dress, as I suspect that your wearing a morning coat in such contexts is more likely to be seen as a faux pas than a statement. I have a vintage s/b frockcoat which I would happily upload some pictures of if that would be helpful to you in informing your decision. Because it is not so obviously an item of daytime formal wear as the morning coat is, I feel that it is rather more versatile abd probably could be carried off in an eveningwear context, although I haven't tried.
 

ericcomposer

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I would certainly favour the single-breasted frock coat option if you are looking for something which you can later wear in lieu of evening dress, as I suspect that your wearing a morning coat in such contexts is more likely to be seen as a faux pas than a statement. I have a vintage s/b frockcoat which I would happily upload some pictures of if that would be helpful to you in informing your decision. Because it is not so obviously an item of daytime formal wear as the morning coat is, I feel that it is rather more versatile abd probably could be carried off in an eveningwear context, although I haven't tried.

I would very much appreciate if you could upload some pictures! It is so difficult for me to actually take this plunge (no pun intended), as I feel it is almost impossible for me to try on such a coat before making a decision. I may have to do it blind based on faith!

Thanks!
 

GBR

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Morning or day dress NEVER passes muster in the evening. It suggests that the wearer is either ignorant, stupid or worse.
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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Why not get a swallowtail coat (what you call "a tailcoat") in midnight blue and wear it for your wedding? If it's a day wedding, it would only be a hair more unusual than wearing a frock coat. If it's an evening wedding, you're perfectly traditional. And it'll be a lot easier to wear than a frock coat when conducting in the evening. The other advantage is that it's harder to make a frock coat look good than it is a swallowtail coat. Unless the wearer is slender, a frock coat needs an excellent bespoke tailor to make it look good. The swallowtail silhouette, by contrast, flatters all body types.

It would be great if conductors wore cutaway/Newmarket coats for daytime concerts.
 

ericcomposer

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I am really leaning towards the single-breasted frock coat- I just feel I am more likely, at this point in my career, to have evening concerts (or other evening events) than daytime ones, so I will add the cutaway coat to my wardrobe when the daytime events become more regular. I appreciate the suggestion of the dress coat (tailcoat), but I see that all too often and am looking for something slightly different...

I am more on the slender side- I'm about a 39 (US) coat size and a 33 pant size (I do fit into 38 jackets if they a more high-end make), and I am also somewhat on a budget. Do you think it is possible to find an off-the-rack frock coat that might suit me well?

Any other suggestions for obtaining one of these coats? I am in NYC, and I have heard some people mention going to Brooklyn to pick one up, as the Jewish community still wears this type of coat as an everyday wardrobe item.

Any other suggestions highly appreciated!
 

Anthony Jordan

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Well, here are the pictures, such as they are:















I'm not entirely happy with them but they are probably the best I can manage tonight! Key points, I would suggest, are the waist seam and shaped back, rounded-off front, three button fastening and, on this example, gauntlet cuffs. The notched lapel could equally well be replaced by a peaked version. There is no way of dating it that I can see but I would guess that it is Edwardian.
 
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ericcomposer

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Thank you so much for the pictures- looks like you have a really wonderful piece there!

I have been scouring eBay & the internets for a winner- I have also read a detailed dialog on another forum about how, historically, the frock coat was a true test of a tailor's craft, and how nowadays, to get one made-to-measure the way it should be (the way they used to be made) will set one back thousands of dollars...

I have decided that, for the purposes of my wedding (unfortunately), I will be unable to afford to commission such a piece, but I have found an interesting item on eBay, which is pre-owned (I believe was actually used for rental, from the UK), but is now being sold.

The brand is Wilvorst, and the only size they have available in black is 36. I am usually a 38/39, but I'm almost willing to take a risk and see what it looks like, since I will be wearing it unbuttoned. I'm hoping that if there are any problems, a tailor might be able to sort it out. They do have a navy coat in my size, but I don't think that will cut it if I'm with an orchestra/choir dressed in black tuxes...

Here is the link to the eBay item, btw: http://www.ebay.com/itm/black-frock-coat-pure-wool-wilvorst-excellent-condition-/251007208408?pt=UK_Wedding_Clothing&var=&hash=item8014819983#ht_500wt_1150

Anybody think I'm on the right track?
 

Testudo_Aubreii

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I think it very unlikely that you will find a ready-made frock coat that will suit you well. It is harder to make one look good than any other cut of coat familiar these days: swallowtail, morning/Newmarket, lounge, or reefer.

If your chest measures 38 inches, you will have great difficulty fitting into a coat cut for a man with a 36 inch chest.

I don't understand why you don't want to wear a swallowtail coat to conduct. You have the opportunity, which very few men nowadays have, to avoid raising any eyebrows while wearing what is perhaps the most elegant and flattering cut of coat ever invented. Why don't you want to seize that opportunity?
 
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ericcomposer

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I think it very unlikely that you will find a ready-made frock coat that will suit you well. It is harder to make one look good than any other cut of coat familiar these days: swallowtail, morning/Newmarket, lounge, or reefer.
If your chest measures 38 inches, you will have great difficulty fitting into a coat cut for a man with a 36 inch chest.
I don't understand why you don't want to wear a swallowtail coat to conduct. You have the opportunity, which very few men nowadays have, to avoid raising any eyebrows while wearing what is perhaps the most elegant and flattering cut of coat ever invented. Why don't you want to seize that opportunity?
While I truly, sincerely appreciate your recommendation, and to a great extent agree with you about the appeal of a swallowtail coat, it is really something that I see other conductors wear all too often. Perhaps I will go with it at some point, but now, the mystique of this other item has really enchanted me. Perhaps I won't be able to find something suitable, though, and will end up with something else.
 
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ericcomposer

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Anthony Jordan

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If you can tolerate a shorter coat, possibly with pocket flaps, then the so-called "Prince Edward" coat/jacket may be worthy of consideration:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw="prince+edward"+jacket&_sacat=See-All-Categories

It is quite popular for wedding hire here in the UK as an alternative to a morning coat or full-length frock coat.

I believe that the coat that you linked to is double-breasted, albeit possibly made so that it doesn't close - are you favouring the d/b option now?
 

ericcomposer

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If you can tolerate a shorter coat, possibly with pocket flaps, then the so-called "Prince Edward" coat/jacket may be worthy of consideration:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw="prince+edward"+jacket&_sacat=See-All-Categories
It is quite popular for wedding hire here in the UK as an alternative to a morning coat or full-length frock coat.
I believe that the coat that you linked to is double-breasted, albeit possibly made so that it doesn't close - are you favouring the d/b option now?
As you pointed out, I noticed that this coat seems to be made so that it's not meant to be close. It seems like an interesting option. I do like the look of the d/b, but as I mentioned before, I worried about too much loose fabric flapping around if I wore it open- this may help me to avoid that, depending on how it's made.

Thanks for the link to the Prince Edward coats- I think those look very nice as well, and I may consider going down that road. Do those usually have the same pleating/tails as a standard frock coat or morning coat?
 

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