Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1861 Victorian gentleman

Subject: aristocratic gentleman
Culture: English
Setting: Victorian era, England mid-late 19thc
Evolution: ... > 1763 Georgian Engl. gentleman > 1811 English dandy > 1861 Victorian English gentleman

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



* Manchester Art Gallery > Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men's Fashion
"After Brummell's example, decoration and display declined during the 19th century as black and navy represented sobriety and respectability.  Society commentators even asked why men wanted to dress as if going to a funeral.  Alongside this increasing plainness in men's clothing, tailoring, particularly in London, developed rapidly from around 1800 to facilitate a better fit with a more precise cut.  The later 19th century saw an increasing formality as men's coats became ever darker and moved from the frockcoat to the morning coat to the lounge suit for urban daywear." ...

* Yarwood 1992 p97-98
"The trend in these years was towards heavier, formal garments from which colour was gradually deleted.  By the 1850s the typical stereotyped masculine attire was established, an appearance of severity in shades of white, grey and black which, in England we characterize as Victorian but it is a picture equally representative of the rest of the western world.
    "The most typical garment was some type of coat with tails or skirt.  By now this appeared in three forms: the tail coat, the frock coat and the cutaway.  the tail coat continued in fashion for town wear until about 1860 but was seen less often after 1855.  Like the other coats it was made of black or dark cloth with collar and revers buttoned high on the chest.  The tails were knee-length or slightly shorter.  The style survived as evening dress 'white tie and tails' until the mid-twentieth century.  The black tail suit had become an evening dress uniform by the 1860s.  It was made from worsted with black silk-covered revers and braid outside seams to the trousers.
    "The frock coat continued to be worn as formal city attire into the early years of the twentieth century.  At this time it was the chief town coat.  Its full skirts reached to the knee, level all round and there was a vent at the back.  The skirt was seamed at the waist.  The coat was double-breasted and most often worn open.
    "The third design, the cutaway, had largely replaced the tail coat by the 1850s.  It was the preferred wear for less formal occasions and was popular with younger men.  It was single-breasted and the skirts were cut back in front to rounded short tails.
    "In the 1850s a short coat was introduced for very informal wear -- indoors, the country or on holiday.  It was made of black or dark cloth and was worn with trousers of a different material; these were usually checked, plaid or striped.  These garments were known as sack coats because of their shapeless, ill-cut form but by the 1860s were better fitting and became accepted for informal street wear.  In style they were single-breasted and had a high-buttoned small collar and revers with only the top button generally fashioned.  Some designs were braid-edged and had velvet collars.
    "Pantaloons had now become trousers which were less tightly fitting so did not need to be strapped under the instep of the boot.  They either matched the coat in colour and material or were plain or striped in grey.  The waistcoat, cut straight across at the waist in front, was usually light-coloured or white.  By mid-century the fob watch had been replaced by a gold watch and chain suspended across the waistcoat front.  In shape these body garments continued to be waisted in the 1830s and early 1840s with some padding on the chest and at the shoulder.  After this a natural figure became the mode in a more formal masculine appearance.
    "From about 1840 there was considerable variety in outer wear for men.  The voluminous, caped Garrick overcoat was still widely worn for travelling in cold weather and the more fitting redingote style in dark cloth for town.  Alternatively men could also wear shorter hip-length coats with fur collars and patch pockets.  In the evenings it was fashionable to wear a long cloak or cape which might be lined with coloured silk -- plain or quilted -- or fur."

* Manchester Art Gallery > Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men's Fashion
"[...] Although British menswear took a more sober turn in the 19th century, even then, colour and decoration could be incorporated in subtle ways according to personal taste.  Striped, checked and patterned trousers and waistcoats remained popular into the 1860s.  Middle and upper-class Victorian men also dressed flamboyantly in a domestic context wearing decorated or patterned gowns or smoking jackets to receive guests.  Men dressed themselves as dandies, revelling in military-inspired frogging (ornamental braiding), subverting the seriousness of army uniform and wearing garments with deliberately aesthetic decoration such as floral embroidery."