For June, in honor of Father’s Day, I shall be blogging about more masculine pursuits and interests. In truth, I am fulfilling a request of my friend, badwolf101, also known as Mr. Jordan, who lamented the dearth of focus on gentlemen in the 19th century. Many of the posts will touch on conversations I had with My Suitor on the subject, so this is also for him. So Ladies sit back this month and let the Gentlemen rule the words.
Today, we discuss . . . Fashion. Men’s fashion, precisely. In Modern day it seems the male options are a bit limited in color, cut and texture. . . Let me retract that; the averaged Modern American male does not fully take advantage of the various options available; preferring comfort over appearance. Fair enough. In ages past, clothes truly made the man, they were articles of distinction between classes. Comfort was not really important as was the show of status. Upper class gentlemen were expected to change outfits multiple times a day; although not nearly has often as his feminine counterparts. (Some things never change.) Take a gander at the plate above at the various choices in outfits. How could we emulate their dress in these times?
Completed in 1828, this portrait falls under the Regency period. I really like the monochromatic thing going on. However, I am confused about the braided cord of his coat across his chest. It might just be decorative or symbolic. More than likely he is wearing tapered trousers or stirrup pants. His cream colored waistcoat is unbutton, sort of a rakish look. The coat looks to be textured, perhaps a velvet or other sumptuous fabric. I challenge any Modern man to don a fitted velvet coat just for effect. The gloves are probably of kid leather. The subject is in a casual pose, so he doffed his hat.
This example is more congruent with spring and summer attire, believe it or not. Victorians did love their heavy fabrics! Frock coats such as these were often made of tweed. The coat falls right above the knee and is nipped at the waist. I could easily imagine this outfit in a brown or hunter green hue.
This portrait was painted in 1890, depicting a clearly modern guy. First, the shoes! Brown with grey?! What a rebel. The cut of the suit and the fabric draping is much more relaxed. The neckcloth is practically a tie, although boarding on a small ascot. The vest, watch, and a crisp white shirt are there. Classic gentlemen attire. Basically, this is the 19th century equivalent to “jeans and a t-shirt” look.
From an 1896 Vanity Fair spread. This older gentlemen looks marvelous! Now, I cannot be certain (so correct me if you are more knowledgeable!) but I do not believe this is “formal wear.” In modern parlance, I think his outfit is more “dressy casual,” given his lack of ostentatious neckwear. I enjoy the grey pin stripe contrast with the black jacket. It is a rather traditional pairing. The jacket covers the rear end and it may have tails. The shirtwaist or vest with gold chain watch fob always looks fabulous on men of any size. If I am not mistaken, this Gent wears a cravat with a short folded down collar. The pocket square adds a bit of class.
These Gentlemen cut a dashing figure! While the weather warms up, here is a parting thought for Autumn. Let us observe from the ground up. Those heels! Modern translation may be dress shoes or boots. The plaid trousers need not be so garish in present day. Look for trousers with subtle plaid that appears almost a solid color from a distance, if the pattern generally turns you off. The real beauty in this fashion plate is the overcoat. Goodness! What beauties! I like both of them for myself! Also note how long these coats are. The trims really elevates the style factor. The high collared shirts are standard issue, but any modern collar shirt would do. Or if you are feeling trending, a turtleneck in Fall. The walking cane adds style points to the outfit but is purely optional. As, always a top hat, to . . . top it off.