Thursday 7 March 2013

Victorian men's fashion

In the Victorian era, daily dress was much more formal than it is today.  Unless they were a workman or a labourer, every gentleman was expected to wear a coat, vest and hat.  To walk around in shirtsleeves without a vest or coat was like the modern day equivalent of walking around in your underwear.  It was seen as very ungentlemanly and unseemly.

An authentic Victorian vest was the centrepiece of any outfit.  Vests were used to make a fashion statement, either bold or conservative and gentlemen would often own several vests to accessorise the same dark suit.  Victorian gentlemen wore a wide variety of vests in almost every combination of cut, colour and cloth imaginable.  With trade beginning with China during the 1840's silk became readily available and inexpensive, therefore men wore extremely fancy silk vests during the day.  many men would wear their jackets with just the top button fastened so more of the vest could be seen.

Like vests, hats were available in a wide variety of styles.  Top hats were de rigueur for parties and formal events throughout the century, but were also worn as day wear by more established gentlemen.  Derbies or bowlers, short-brimmed with rounded crowns, became more common as the century progressed and by the mid 1890's outnumbered most other hat styles.

The second half of the nineteenth century was dominated by the frock coat, a man's coat with full skirt both front and back that reached just above the knee.   It was common for both day and evening wear through the 1880's, making it the most versatile coat of the Victorian wardrobe.  Tailcoats were popular for most of the century, often used for parties and formal events.  The styling included single and double breasted as well as straight and pointed fronts.

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