Morning suit and mourning suit can both be correct depending on the context.
For fiction writers, in particular, it’s essential to use these two attire descriptions correctly.
Morning and mourning are homophones, but with obvious differences in meaning.
But how do they apply to how men dress for formal occasions or ceremonies?
Origins and usage of the two expressions
While it is not as common now, mourning suit was in more general use in the early nineteenth century.
It was only in the late twentieth century that morning suit became the dominant expression.
Perhaps the change was due to the origins of the expression morning dress.
The name originated from the practice of gentlemen in the nineteenth century riding a horse in the morning with a cutaway front, single-breasted morning coat. Source: Wikipedia
Before this time, mourning suit and mourning dress were in use to describe attire related to the period after someone’s death or funeral dress.
That use is still correct today.
As for morning dress or suit, it has lost any meaning related to horse riding.
It is now a general fashion expression to describe formal attire for ceremonies such as weddings, state memorial services, or daytime events in the company of royalty.
So it is easy to use morning suit and mourning suit in the right context.
What is a morning suit?
As a general description, a morning suit consists of a long black or gray coat, a waistcoat, a silk necktie or cravat, striped trousers, and a top hat.
It may also include a silk handkerchief in the coat pocket, black Oxford shoes, lemon or gray suede, or chamois gloves, and, optionally, a walking cane.
As the word morning implies, the suit is suitable for morning or daytime events and is not appropriate for evening occasions.
One last note is that according to Debretts, it does not proscribe to wearing a bow tie.
What is a mourning suit?
It is a suit that is appropriate for a funeral or memorial service.
Most often, it is black or very dark gray. It is usually worn with a gray or black tie and a white shirt.
It can be a two or three-piece suit.
The definition is not as strict as for a morning suit and can be as simple as a dark lounge suit.
Interestingly, the term is now often associated with goth fashion.
Newspapers and magazines sometimes use the term now to highlight celebrities who choose to wear black.
Check your spelling
It’s very easy to differentiate between the meanings of morning suit and mourning suit.
But if you use these terms in writing, take extra care when proofreading your text.
Being homophones, they sound the same but have different spellings.
Because both words are correct, a spellchecker is unlikely to highlight any error in use.
Other common homophones include:
It’s so easy to make a typo with homophones.
Always double-check to make sure you use the correct forms in your writing.
You would rarely use morning suit or mourning suit in general writing.
But for fiction writers, there are often scenes that involve describing how your characters are dressed.
It’s part of the art of writing to show a reader how the attire fits with a setting or period.
Vocabulary for it is almost unlimited in choice and scope.
However, it usually takes a lot of careful research to choose the correct words or terms, especially for period costumes and dress.
But at least you’ve got these two terms ready to use now.
Related reading: When Do You Spell Out Numbers In Writing?