Read CHAPTER II - HOW A BACHELOR SHOULD DRESS of The Complete Bachelor Manners for Men , free online book, by Walter Germain, on

There are three rules of dress which, for the ordinary man in his everyday life, might be resolved into two. These originally are morning, afternoon, and evening. Morning and evening are absolutely necessary; afternoon dress is donned on special occasions only.

Morning dress is that which is worn during business hours or at any time in any place, where semiformal dress is not required until candlelight or seven o’clock in the evening. It consists usually in winter of a lounge or single-breasted sack suit made of many different kinds of material, the favorites being Scotch tweeds or black and blue cheviots, rough-faced and smooth. Fashions are liable to some variation season after season, and the general rule can only be laid down in a book of this kind.

With the morning or lounge dress in winter is worn the Derby or soft-felt Alpine hat, called the Hombourg. The Derbies are black, brown, or drab, and the felts are gray, brown, drab, or black. The colored shirt with white standing or turned-down collar is the usual accompaniment to the lounge suit. The fashion for colored shirts in stripes has been that the patterns run up and down and not across the bosom. The tie is a four-in-hand or an Ascot, or a simple bow, the boots black leather or dark-brown russet, and the gloves of tan or gray undressed kid or of dogskin. For ordinary business wear, suits of black or gray mixed cheviot, vicuna or worsted, or fancy Scotch goods, the coat of which is a “cutaway,” are also popular; but the black diagonal “cutaway” has passed entirely out of fashion, and is utilized at present in riding costume.

The lounge suit in summer is of blue flannel or very light cheviot or tweed. Straw hats are worn in place of Derbies and felts. Fashion sometimes dictates fancy waistcoats of linen to be worn with business suits; otherwise the entire costume trousers, coat, and waistcoat is of the same material.

In the country, at the seaside, or in communities where golf, wheeling, tennis, yachting or other sports and pastimes are the order of the day, the costumes appropriate for these are in vogue for lounge or morning suits. This is what the English call “mufti.” Such costumes are, however, not in good form in the city.

Black leather, tan, or russet shoes are worn with morning dress. White duck or flannel trousers, with black or blue cheviot coat and waistcoat, make fashionable lounge suits for summer resorts.

Afternoon dress consists of a double-breasted frock coat of soft cheviot, vicuna, or diagonal worsted with either waistcoat to match single-breasted or double-breasted of fancy cloth, Marseilles duck or pique; trousers of different material, usually cashmere, quiet in tone, with a striped pattern on a dark gray, drab, or blue background; boots of patent leather, buttoned, not tied; a white or colored shirt with straight standing white collar; a four-in-hand, puffed Ascot, or small club tie; silk hat and undressed gray, tan, or brown kid gloves. The colored shirt is an innovation, and it should be used sparingly, white linen on any semiformal function being in better form. When spats are used they should be of brown, gray, or drab cloth or canvas, to match the trousers as nearly as possible. Some ultra faddists wear white kid gloves with afternoon dress, but the fashion is not universal.

Afternoon dress, is the attire for weddings for the bridegroom, best man, ushers, and male guests; at afternoon teas, afternoon receptions, afternoon calls, afternoon walks on the fashionable avenue, garden parties (but not picnics), luncheons, and, in fact, at all formal or semiformal functions taking place between midday and candlelight, as well as at church on Sundays, at funerals, and in the park in London after midday.

Gray frock-coat suits are recent introductions from London, and have been worn at all the functions at which the black is required, but the latter is more conservative and in better taste. The afternoon dress is seldom worn in midsummer, morning suits being allowable at seaside and mountain-resort day functions.

Evening dress is the proper attire, winter or summer, on all occasions after candlelight. There are two kinds of evening dress, formal and informal.

Formal or “full” evening dress, as it is sometimes vulgarly called, consists of the evening or “swallowtail” coat of black dress worsted or soft-faced vicuna, with or without silk or satin facing, with waistcoat and trousers of the same material, the latter plain or with a braid down the sides. The “dress” waistcoat can also be of white duck or pique, in which case it is double-breasted. The shape of the dress waistcoat shows the shirt bosom in the form of a “U.”

The evening shirt is of plain white linen, with two shirt buttons and link cuffs, straight standing collar, white lawn or linen tie. The gloves are white with white stitching, the hose of black silk, and the handkerchief, which must be present but not seen, of plain white linen. The shoes are patent-leather pumps or “low quarters,” tied, not buttoned.

The overcoat is an Inverness of black cheviot, lined with satin and without sleeves, and the hat a crush opera. These two latter adjuncts are not indispensable, but most convenient. An ordinary black overcoat and top hat can be worn with evening dress. No visible jewelry not even a watch chain is allowed. The shirt buttons are either of white enamel, dull-finished gold, or pearls, and the sleeve links white-enameled or lozenge-shaped disks of gold, with a monogram thereon engraved.

Evening dress is de rigueur at balls, dances, evening receptions, evening weddings, dinners, suppers, the opera, and the theater, when calling after candlelight, and in fact at any formal evening function and generally when ladies are present.

Informal evening dress differs from formal in the wearing of the Tuxedo or dinner coat in place of the “swallowtail,” and the substitution of a black silk for a white lawn tie.

The dinner coat is of black worsted or vicuna, satin-faced. It is the badge of informality. Formerly it was only worn at the club, at small stag dinners, and on occasions when ladies were not present. Now it is in vogue during the summer at hotel hops and at small informal parties to the play, at bowling parties, restaurant dinners, and, in fact, on any occasion which is not formal. From June to October men wear it in town every evening without overcoat.

As the dinner jacket is short, a top or silk hat can not be worn with it. The proper headgear in winter is a black felt soft hat, in summer a straw.

The dinner jacket is becoming a necessity. It is worn also by all youths and boys from twelve years to seventeen, at which latter period they can assume the toga virilis or swallowtail.

I here append a few cautionary hints which must be taken if you wish to dress well.

All scarves and ties should be tied by one’s self. Made-up neckwear of any kind is not worn by well-groomed men.

White evening waistcoats and Tuxedo coats do not agree; black is only allowable.

Jewelry is vulgar. The ring for a man is a seal of either green or red stone, or of plain burnished gold with the seal or monogram engraved upon it. It must be worn on the little finger.

Watch chains and watch fobs are not in vogue. Watches and latchkeys are attached to a key chain and hidden in the trousers pocket. Diamonds are only in good form when set in a scarf pin, and even then they are in questionable taste. Diamond buttons and diamond rings are absolutely vulgar.

The fashionable overcoat in winter is a Chesterfield or single-breasted frock of kersey or like material in brown, blue, or black, with velvet collar. For autumn and spring the tan covert coat is in vogue.