Fine wool morning coat, designer unknown

Fine wool morning coat, designer unknown

Morning coat
Designer unknown
1870-5
Great Britain
Fine wool, with a velvet collar; edges bound with wool braid; buttons covered in sateen; partially lined with twilled silk, and sleeves lined with twilled cotton
Museum no. T.5-1982

The morning coat was originally a single-breasted tailcoat, worn in the early 19th century, and also known as the riding coat (or 'Newmarket'). By the 1850s it was shaped halfway between a riding coat and a frock coat. It was usually single-breasted and was known as the 'cutaway', as the fronts sloped away elegantly to the broad skirts behind.

This example is a variation of the morning coat. It was introduced in 1870 and was known as the 'University' or 'Angle-fronted' coat. The fronts were cut at an acute angle from the second button, exposing much of the waistcoat.

The morning coat was worn during the daytime, as the name suggests. It became so popular that it began to rival the frock coat for day and business wear. Manners for Men (1897), by Mrs Humphry, stated:' For morning wear the morning-coat or jacket of the tweed suit is correct. After lunch, when in town, the well-dressed man may continue to wear his morning coat or the regulation frock-coat, with trousers of some neat, striped grey mixture.'

Morning coats were usually made of dark colours, and the fabrics included worsteds, diagonals, hopsack, ribbed meltons and beavers. The collars were often faced with velvet and the edges were bound, corded or stitched.

This example has large wide sleeves, as was fashionable for the period. It also has wide lapels and is buttoned very low on the chest. After 1875 coats tended to be buttoned much higher. The Gentleman's Magazine of Fashion (1875) justified this fashion for health reasons: 'Medical men ascribe many deaths during the past winter to the fashion of low collars and to gentlemen not being sufficiently protected by their clothing at the throat and neck.'