Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1763 Georgian gentleman
Subject: aristocratic gentleman
Culture: English
Setting: Georgian period, England / British empire mid-late 18thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources,Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Plumb 1980 p8
​"Increasingly from the last quarter of the seventeenth century in Britain there was a change in man's attitude to himself and to the world about him.  Men and women felt that happiness was to be found on earth as well as in heaven, that the works of a bountiful creator were to be enjoyed, not shunned.  Indeed, this attitude strengthened so powerfully that Thomas Jefferson embodied in the Declaration of Independence the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable natural right, on the same terms as liberty and life.   Even if enshrined as a social goal, happiness, alas, is often elusive and usually expensive in its pursuit.  It can, of course, be achieved without money, but the ecstatic happiness of a hair-shirted saint had little appeal for men and women of the eighteenth century.  They were religious, certainly, often with a deep sincerity rather than mere conviction, but their religion was socially orientated. They felt a need to reconcile their increasingly powerful desire to enjoy the fruits of creation and the world about them with a sense of moral purpose.  Happiness could not be derived from license, nor from dissipation, nor from idleness.  Happiness was deepest when linked with self-improvement, either through the social arts or through the enjoyment of nature in all its manifestations -- not only its beauties, but also its secrets -- for where else was the purpose as well as the goodness of God the creator to be found?
    "For the men, women, and children of eighteenth-century England, at least those beyond the borders of poverty, the world became increasingly radiant.  There were more things to possess, more activities -- intellectual, artistic and sporting --to enjoy; the passions of the mind, the heart and the body could be more easily and more socially indulged.  'More socially' is important to stress: happiness became less private, less a state of the soul, a personal relationship with God, than something visible to one's neighbours.  The pursuit of happiness was entangled in social emulation; it therefore became competitive, and competition requires money and time as well as desire."


* Manchester Art Gallery > Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men's Fashion
"During the 18th century, fashionable British men dressed as extrovertly as women.  Highly decorated clothing remained the norm for those men able to afford it until around 1800.  Embroidery represented the costliest of decorative techniques and still provides a rich source of creative inspiration for recent designers such as Versace and McQueen." ....

* Breward 1995 p122-123
"Whilst the rural, equestrian style of the English gentleman proved an effective fashionable export in the latter half of the eighteenth century, it would be simplistic to claim that the flow of influences was one-way only.  In terms of metropolitan style, the standing of London as a cosmopolitan centre of display, together with the rise of the European grand tour as a prerequisite for the education of the elite or aspirational male, ensured that masculine dress also reflected continental tastes.  The Macaroni, a focus of satirical criticism from the late 1760s on, was lambasted principally for his ostentatious adoption of Italian and French style.  Whilst his extravagant make-up and coiffure and choice of bright colours formed a subcultural badge, pitted against sober ideals of 'Britishness', the tightness and brevity of Macaroni dress, revealing the male physique, announced the later and wider popularity of buff-coloured breeches and short waistcoats amongst all levels of male society in the 1780s and '90s.  To these items of dress were added a more relaxed 'Augustan' treatment of the hair, resulting in the gradual rejection of the wig for all but the most formal events.  The dark enveloping frock-coat, lacking trimming other than the addition of velvet collars and large metal buttons, with a cut-away front and tails at the back by about 1790, epitomised the supposed grace of English patrician style.  The arrangement of high cravat and stiff shirt collar allowed for a degree of individual expression otherwise denied by a code of dressing that was rapidly anticipating the inexpensive but apparently 'democratic' masculine uniform of the following two centuries."


* Fryer 1969 p67
"Small-sword   The successor of the rapier worn in the late seventeenth and through the eighteenth centuries.  It was both a civilian and military weapon.   The hilt usually had a double shell guard, short quillons, knuckle-bow and spherical pommel.  Many hilts were elaborate and were finely pierced or chiselled in silver, gilt metal or steel.  The blade was frequently of slender triangular section and often of colichemarde type."