Tropical Mess Dress Jacket

Despite the high heats of the tropics, officers still enjoyed their formal mess dinners in mess dress. Although the shirts and bow ties were never dropped, they did make some concessions to the climate by having a set of trousers and jacket made up in a lightweight white cotton fabric that was more comfortable to wear than the woollen mess dress worn in the UK. This tradition continues to this day and officers stationed in tropical climes can still wear the tradional hot weather version of mess kit. The mess dress jacket we are looking at today probably dates from the 1960s by the style of the tailor’s label and is stypical of these garments, copying the style and cut but in white cotton:

When I purchased this jacket, all the buttons and insignia had been removed. They are of course secured with split rings and cotter pins to allow them to be taken off for laundering. I have added buttons and pips back to the shoulders to better display the jacket, however I do not have enough staybrite pips so each shoulder has a mix of brass and staybrite pips until I can find enough of the same type:

There are two sewn holes on each lapel where collar badges can be attached, and I will be keeping an eye out to see if I can find a correct set of dogs and buttons to finish off this jacket:

I rarely include the backs of uniforms as often they are quite plain, however in this case it is worth showing the intricate seams sewn here that not only give the jacket its shape, but add extra decoration and definition to this part of the garment:

Most officers would not have a set of tropical mess dress jacket and trousers when they were first deployed to the tropics, instead one of the first trips was to a local firm of tailors who could sew up a fine garment such as this in short order and for a fraction of the price of a tailor in the UK. This example was bought in Singapore and so has the tailor’s label inside above a small interior pocket:

In this image from the 1950s, members of the Canadain Provosts can be seen wearing tropical mess jackets:

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