First may I direct your attention to this post on thrifting for Victorian menswear for shopping tips?
Now that we have that out of the way, let us move on to more of a timeline retrospective on the fashionable male. My personal passion is for Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian menswear so the focus will be on that in particular, but we will touch on some earlier stuff as well. What I'm going to talk about is what aspects give the look of the time period, that is are iconic in our minds and inspire the viewer to think on a specific style in history. I'm not thinking in terms of absolutes, there are always exceptions, but mainly generalities.
|Full Attire and Doublet & Breeches both 1630-1640 The Victoria & Albert Museum|
|1600-1624 Man’s Nightcap The Victoria & Albert Museum|
|1620-1640 Collar Manchester City Galleries|
|1760 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1790 The Mint Museum|
The feeling of the time period: buckle shoes, stockings, knee britches, long waistcoats, long jackets in the frock or morning style usually single breasted, lace at the neck and wrist, gloves, lots of embroidery and gilt detail, fabrics very opulent including velvet and brocade. Outfits are very coordinated and matched.
|Waistcoat 1790 The Los Angeles County Museum of Art|
What women were wearing? Crazy paniers, huge fluffy dresses, madness.
Want inspiration? Watch Dangerous Liaisons, Marie Antoinette, or the Slipper and the Rose
Early 1800s (Regency)
|1815 Man’s Suit 1815-1820 The Victoria & Albert Museum|
|1830s The Kyoto Costume Institute|
The feeling of the time period: stockings & knee britches for evening, boots, short waistcoats, jackets in the cut-away or morning style, stock and cravat in crisp white or silk colors, fabrics more conservative. Outfits are more complimentary colors than matchy matchy.
|1820 Top Hat 1820 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1830 Stock 1830 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1834 Stock The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Waistcoats often characterized by a high small collar or a shawl collar, could be double or single breasted. They were commonly the most colorful and patterned part of an outfit.
1835 high collar vest 1835-1840 & shawl collar waistcoat 1840s both Metropolitan Museum of Art
|Mandarin Collar Vest 1845-1859 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
A note on terminology: in most literature a vest was single breasted, a waistcoat was double-breasted. I tend to refer to them all as waistcoats so as to keep the feel of a past time period. Ah the concessions of a writer.
For above stairs, the gentleman often wore a banyan.
1830 Banyan and Waistcoat The Metropolitan Museum of Art
What were women wearing? Nightgowns. Sigh.
|My preferred Sense & Sensibility|
Want inspiration? Watch some BBC Austen.
Middle 1800s (Early Victorian)
|1856 Boy’s Ensemble The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1850s The Museum at FIT|
1865-1870 and 1867-1868 The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The feeling of the time period: the three piece suit is introduced in force, shiney shoes close to modern formal wear, waistcoats/vests stay short, jackets range from cut-away to frock to morning style (as occasion dictated), narrow trousers were popular, stock and cravats in crisp white or black, fabrics quite conservative. Jacket and trousers often match.
1850s Morning Vest The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1860s Waistcoat Victoria & Albert Museum
Waistcoats often came in plaid, possibly due to Queen Victorian's love of Scotland.
|1862 Riding Boots The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1850 Top Hat The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|1865 Derby The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
What were women wearing? Increasingly wide (horsehair petticoats to hooped crinoline supported) dresses
|1858 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Want inspiration? Watch North & South, Cranford or Under the Greenwood Tree
Late 1800s (Classic Victorian)
|1871 Wedding Suit The Victoria & Albert Museum|
The feeling of the time period: similar to above only more and more specialty outfits for specific occasions, waistcoats/vests stay short, jackets range from cut-away to frock to morning style (as occasion dictated), narrow trousers were popular, stock and cravat in crisp white or black mainly, fabrics quite conservative influenced by Victoria's mourning. Jacket and trousers often match. Dandy's or Pinks (named after the high collar points) distinguish themselves partly because of their more brightly colored preferences.
|1872 Godeys Sept 1872 Nightshirt|
Shirt for gentleman, with embroidered bosom.
|Socks for men 1872|
|1880s Boating Cap and Jacket Kerry Taylor Auctions|
|Evening Suit 1880s The Victoria & Albert Museum|
|Evening Vest 1885-1895 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
What were women wearing? Huge oval hoop dresses evolving to the bustle through natural form, back to the bustle, finally A-frame.
|Fashion overview Alfred Roller (modified)|
|1894-1896 The Indianapolis Museum of Art|
Want inspiration? Watch Forsythe Saga, The Buccaneers or one of the longer running time series like The Pallisers.
|Opposing Votes for Men|
Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.