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Question on attire for driving

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    Question on attire for driving

    Sort of . . .I am tall, so finding a traditional frock for fox hunting has always been a challenge. My dad had one made for me when I was 20 something --it still fits, but it is a heavy weight. For years (35) I've searched for a light weight that was long enough. Meanwhile, I've made do with what I can sew myself. Then on Ebay I found and bought coat listed as a "hunting frock" ---before I even bought it, I knew it wasn't. It is, I THINK, a coat used for formal driving --for one, it is longer than normal (great for me!) --two, it has two buttons on the black pleat. A hunt coat, or dressage coat, only has one. Third, it has an unusual piece in side the front of the coat --I THINK it is where one puts extra gloves. I have searched the www for descriptions of driving coats (like formal four-in-hand) but nothing comes up to explain WHAT the little piece in the front is for --meanwhile, I have slightly altered this coat (took it in a bit) so that it fits like a hunting frock coat. Any insight on what the little piece is for? Is it indeed a coachman's frock?

    here's the ebay listing with pictures ...

    I'm guessing, but from the term "coaching" in the ad, I'd say this is a coat intended for the groom riding on a coach. Pulled either by a pair or 4-in-hand.
    ADS has very specific requirements for attire worn by both Drivers (Whips) & grooms.
    Including the number & placement of buttons.

    Hopefully someone better-acquainted with Rules will chime in.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      Original Poster

      Thanks 2DF ---I drew a blank search --grooms dress and whips attire did little --hoping someone knows --lovely coat. Hope to see you soon IRL!


        That is a livery jacket used for a groom on a carriage. It could be used with a formal carriage for a single, pair or 4 in hand. There is a rule about the amount of buttons on the front and back but I honestly can't remember - and I have had judges count my buttons! We had a livery jacket made a few years ago by a "specialist" in Ontario and he did ask what type of carriage we drove as he then made sure it had the correct amount of buttons and the colour of the collar as well.

        Here is a picture of our livery jacket. We have used it for singles and pairs put to our phaeton. If we only take one carriage to a show and drive our marathon carriage, I would not use this jacket as a turnout as it would be inappropriate (I would use a black suit jacket and a bowler hat).

        I don't have that inside pocket in my jacket, but it would come in handy for sure!

        Attached Files


          You might ask the Carriage Association what that is. They are the "keepers of tradition." They had a website question area, you could photo your jacket, send pictures. Looking at your Ebay pictures, I saw what appeared to be a triangular piece of fabric buttoned on the inside of jacket. I am presuming this is the item in question? We never saw one of them before. Husband has ridden as groom for a stable that was up on obscure details! They asked if he would come to Walnut Hill years ago. He fit the coat!! Ha ha They went in almost EVERY class, it was exhausting even with two regular barn grooms changing harness, vehicles, to suit the next class. Kind of killed our pleasure show ambitions, having to meet those kind of standards! No hired help here to get 4 horses ready!!

          Button counting is a detail that can move your turnout up or down in the placings. Having buttons on the coat and where, had reasons. Footman as opposed to grooms, were not in the same places because footman rode standing, not seated. Buttons would make sitting uncomfortable. Coachmen (hired help) as opposed to Gentleman Drivers, have different quantity of buttons than grooms.

          There might be information about formal livery buttons in the Pleasure Driving section of the ADS Rulebook. I have found many interesting things in there! Quite a bit of information is in people's heads, learned as trainees in big Coaching stables and from old books during the Golden Age of driving. "That is just how it is done properly," if you ask questions. Americans copied the English in driving details, formal manners, ways of doing things back then and now.

          We turnout informally, usually for Dressage at a CDE. We are not big horse show competitors. Our carriages are not formal, more sporting types with natural finishes, driven casually at picnics, club drives. Formal grooms' attire would be incorrect on them even at a show. Horses are not fancy movers, do the sporting look very well.


            Original Poster

            DiamondJubilee and Goodhors --thank you for the interesting information! DiamondJubilee --I think this coat is identical to the one in your picture (standing person). And it was made in Canada. The collar is a custom color added by hand at some point. The buttons were replaced. Goodhors much of the driving button rules have found their way into fox hunting-- members wear 3 buttons, staff wear 4, and the MFH wears 5 (as I recall). Now-a-days most hunt coats have three buttons --and the ones in back are vestigial --no longer used for lifting up the tail of the coat to keep the horse cool. Buttons are there on the back, but no button hole on the tail lining (usually). Anyway --like my new coat!


              Foxglove 👋
              I may be at the Topeka Spring auction in March.
              And possibly near Millersburg before then.
              Depends on weather & if I choose to ride along with the FGS (Taylor)
              If it looks like I'm headed your way, I'll PM & maybe we can GTG.

              Same for goodhors if you & Mr gh are thinking about Topeka
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015