Some form of neckwear is always required with morning dress, there really isn’t any conceivable way that you could get away without it. Your choice essentially boils down to three kinds of neckwear.
The ascot is not as popular with morning dress as it used to be, and you will (hopefully) never see an ascot cravat worn with anything other than morning dress. Before proceeding to the details, it may be necessary to address some transatlantic confusion on the subject. An ascot tie is a cravat more or less wherever you hail from. In the UK it generally refers to a formal kind of cravat that is worn outside the collar of a shirt, tied neatly and secured with a pin.
In the USA, the term ascot is more generally applied to a more informal style of cravat, with a slightly different construction, that is tied loosely and worn on the inside of the collar.
It’s not really part of our remit to discuss the merits or otherwise of the latter kind, often simply called a ‘day cravat’ in the UK, but remember that regardless of what the word means to you, the former, formal style is the only one of the two that should be worn with morning dress. There isn’t a lot of difference in the overall shape of the two types, the main discrepancy being that and ascot is cut with two wide ends with a narrow neckband in the middle, ordinary day cravats are cut straight and pleated around the neckband.
An ascot, done properly, can look very elegant, but this is also a look that is very much redolent of the past and so would best suit a vintage-inspired ensemble. This highly informative guide not only demonstrates usefully how to make an ascot tie, but also shows how to tie the standard ascot knot and illustrates some of the technical details of an ascot. We tried it ourselves with very satisfactory results.
There are several ways to tie an ascot. The best way, sometimes called a dress knot, is illustrated in the above link. They can also be tied as for a day cravat but outside the collar. This look was briefly popular with morning dress in the 1930s, but fell out of favour quite quickly as it simply doesn’t look as good:
Finally the Ruche or Cocolupa knot was popular in the late C19th with aesthetes and dandies. It has a certain charm and is still worn fairly often at british weddings, though to a certain extent this is only because hire shops tend to push slightly shoddy pretied versions of this knot.
If you must know how to tie one of these, it’s basically a standard schoolboy’s four-in-hand tie knot. We really wouldn’t recommend it, though. If you are going to go to the bother of wearing an ascot, you might as well do it properly and opt for the dress knot.
Some people call this a necktie, but doing so only reduces ambiguity to the extent of excluding any neckwear not worn about the neck. Some call it a four-in-hand, but really that’s no less ambiguous as it also refers to a kind of knot. We’re going to call it a tie, I hope you don’t mind. You may have seen one before, it looks like this:
This kind of tie is what 99% of people are likely to opt for with morning dress because it’s classic, safe and fairly versatile. I won’t be investing a lot of energy into explaining all of the details of a tie which many people will already know. If you don’t, or you just love to read about them, then you can always read the Wikipedia Article (warning: the colour categories section may have been concocted by a tarot reader or Victorian florist.)
Yes, bow ties can be worn with morning dress. Partly, I think, owing to the steady fossilisation of ‘black tie’ as such an iconic and universally-recognised style, it has become easy to assume that bow ties should only be black and only worn in the evening. Thankfully for all, this not the case!