PDF The Gentlemans Guide to 18th Century Fashion

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Men of the upper-classes continued to wear double-breasted dress coats of fine wool and light-coloured waistcoats over white linen shirts. Buckskin breeches and top-boots were de rigueur for the gentleman in the country see below , while tight-fitting pantaloons and Hessians remained the fashion in town. For evening dress, gentlemen wore knee breeches of black or light-coloured satin or velvet with white stockings, a white waistcoat, and a dark tail-coat.

In , the frock coat was introduced. Unlike long-tailed dress coats, frock coats had a waist seam and a full skirt which hung down to the knees. Initially viewed as being rather informal, the frock coat would eventually become a wardrobe staple. Met Museum Frock Coat. Coat sleeves began to puff at the shoulders, chests swelled out, and waistlines narrowed to an often extreme degree. Meanwhile, trousers or trowsers were becoming fashionable for day wear.

Trousers generally had a fall front which buttoned at the waist and a strap at the foot to ensure that they fell smoothly on the leg.

Georgian Fashion

Some gentlemen preferred loose-fitting Cossack trousers. At the same time, waistcoats became a bit more elaborate. By the late s, elaborately tied white cravats and neck cloths had fallen from favor for day wear. Moving into the s, the Victorian era was well and truly underway. Trousers of the s were fuller and, as the decade progressed, the strap at the foot disappeared and fall fronts were replaced by a fly front design. The s is also notable for being the decade that introduced the sack coat. Unlike a frock coat, the sack coat was short, single-breasted, unlined, and loose-fitting.

The sack coat was generally worn for sporting or country pursuits. For all other occasions, men donned a frock coat or a tailcoat.

Georgian Fashion Revolution

Advancing into the s, the waistline of frock coats began to lower, eliminating the high-waisted look of earlier decades. Through much of the s and into the s, gentlemen could be seen wearing striped or checked trousers, often in relatively bright colors. With the invention of aniline dye in , these colors became even more vivid and—on occasion—rather garish. Moving into the s, frock coats were no longer as fashionable as they had been in previous decades. Instead, for informal occasions, most gentlemen preferred the sack coat.

Trousers of the s were creased, with many gentlemen continuing to opt for striped or plaid fabric. Different designs of checks or stripes were popular in different seasons. The s is notable for being the decade when the three-piece suit began to emerge. Made in matched black, brown, or other dark hues, three-piece suits were generally worn with white shirts and dark-coloured cravats.

The World of Fashion in the 18th Century – Part 1: Accessories for Gentlemen | Regency Explorer

Coats were also straighter and cut closer to the shape, with longer waists and narrow sleeves. Frock coats were still in fashion for formal day wear. Morning coats, which were single-breasted and cut away from the front, were also quite popular.

Georgian Fashion Revolution

For business dress or less formal day dress, the sack suit dominated the decade. Waistcoats continued to be worn, but were usually hidden behind high-buttoned coats. They were generally made to match coats and trousers. During the s, they were cut a bit fuller for day wear, with the knee measuring the same width as at the ankle. For evening wear, trousers were slightly narrower. Advancing into , most gentlemen of fashion owned several styles of coat, including a frock coat, tailcoat, cutaway coat, and sack coat.

The sack coat was initially the least formal option, however, toward the end of the decade, a dressier version of the black sack coat was introduced in Tuxedo, New York. Matched three-piece suits in blacks, browns, and tweeds continued to be quite fashionable.

For informal occasions, the sack coat remained popular. By the s, most men were wearing either neckties or bow ties. For day wear, these ties could be solid or patterned. For evening wear, they were white. Again, I remind you that this is just a brief, primarily visual guide. The following links may provide a starting point:. The Clothier and Furnisher, Vol. New York: Masson Publishing, New York: DK Publishing, Fischer, Gayle V. Kent: Kent State University Press, Johnson, Lucy.

Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. Norris, Herbert and Curtis, Oswald. Nineteenth-century Costume and Fashion, Volume 6. Mineola: Dover Publications, Nunn, Joan. Fashion in Costume, Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, London: Kent and Co.


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What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history. Find out more…. You can also connect with Mimi on Facebook and Twitter.


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  • Another great post! It seems from on we see the modern silhouette of a straight waist. Beau Brummell was in the military and one can see that influence in his innovations. He wears his own hair, but for formal occasions he would have a powdered wig, dressed high and tied at the back. Embroidery and trimming were no longer fashionable except for formal wear. This dress is typical of the simple countrified styles which became fashionable towards the end of the century.

    The hair is dressed in a mass of loose curls and the lady wears a huge hat inspired by a midth century riding hat. Woollen cloth, cotton and linen had become fashionable materials, while silks were worn for evening, as were small hoops since wide ones were only worn for court. The waist is high and uncorsetted, and the materials light in colour and texture. Muslin had become a fashionable fabric.

    Her gown is still 18th century in cut, but for day wear it would have bodice, skirt and petticoat in one piece. Her accessories are varied: she carries a huge swansdown muff, wears long white gloves, has a tasselled girdle and a feather-trimmed turban. In , in order to raise revenue, a tax was imposed on hair powder by William Pitt.

    Regency Origins of Black Tie – The Tale of the Tailcoat – 1800s

    However this tax failed as people promptly abandoned the wearing of powdered wigs and the tax raised just 46, guineas. Informal day dress is shown here, the illustration taken from a sketch portrait of George Beau Brummell, the fashionable ideal and famous dandy of his age. He persuaded men to think that dark, well cut and fitted clothes were smarter than colourful ostentatious ones. He usually wore a cut-away cloth coat with brass buttons, plain waistcoat matching his pantaloons which replaced shorter breeches in about , hessian riding boots and a hard conical riding hat, introduced in the late 18th century.