19th Century Men’s Attire

Have you ever read something in a book and had no idea what they were talking about or describing? That’s happened to me a few times. Then when you keep coming across the same word you finally go to the internet to look it up. That is why I wanted to write things on my blog that you might find in my book. Today I want to tell you about men’s clothing.

Personally, I find some of it interesting. So here is a list of things you would see a man wear. Then I will tell you the things I found interesting:

  1. Shirts were linen and worn with a stock or cravat.
  2. A stock was a stiff neckband.
  3. A cravat was a square piece of cloth that was folded into a triangle and tied around the neck.
  4. A waistcoat, a type of vest, was standard with every riding coat.
  5. A “dress” riding coat was cut high in the front, double-breasted and was long-tailed in the back.
  6. A frock coat was worn during the day.
  7. Tights (pants) were made of buckskins.
  8. Tall boots.

Well, linen shirts aren’t to interesting unless you are watching the end of Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy is walking through the field toward Lizzy. It was dawn; the breeze blows his frock coat around him as his walks through the grass wet with dew. His linen shirt is tucked into his pants, but is open at the neck. Well, you get the picture. Besides the intriguing glimpses into Lizzy’s life, the wealthy could afford to have several linen shirts. You could say it was a sign of wealth if you were always wearing a white linen shirt.

The color of a waistcoat and dress coat became darker as the century when by until you had the black and white formal attire that you may see even today. We call it a tuxedo. Even with the black and white formal attire there was always the cravat to give your attire some color. Some cravats could be quite extravagant.

Now, as far as the pants and boots, the beginning of the 19th century was a time when a more natural look was desirable. When I say pants were like tights, it means they were really tight. You know, like tights. Seriously, they were so tight men had to carry a separate coin purse because there was no room for pockets. Boots were tall for a very practical reason, what with all the riding men did.

One last thing I find interesting. Before the 19th century, men and women wore powdered wigs. Men wore pants that stopped at the knee, white socks that covered their calves. They had to wear the ruffled shirt and the coat with the big brass buttons. At the beginning of the 19th century men and women’s clothing may have changed but servants had to continue to wear the old style of dress.

We have come a long way in the way we dress, yet we seem to always be repeating the styles of the past. One thing that has gone in and out of popularity has been wearing wigs. Can you think of anything else that has gone in and out of popularity since the 18th century? Is there anything you wish would or would not go in and out of popularity? Leave a comment if you can think of something.

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May I have this dance?

You’ve heard of the waltz. When a couple dances the waltz the gentleman and lady grasp each other’s hands, while the gentleman places his other hand on the lady’s waist and she places her other hand on his shoulder. From this possition they twirl around in a circle and progress around the room. But, in the Regency period it was considered inappropriate. Instead, the kind of dance you might find at a ball was more like a square dance. Couples lined up, men on one side and women on the other, then waited for their turn to dance a figure (a sequence of movements).

In the following video we can get a glimps of what it must have been like. It is a short clip of one of my all time favorite movies, “Pride & Prejudice” with Keira Knightley. It shows Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett as they dance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t start at the beginning of the dance where you see them lined up, but you will see it at the end of the dance. Please ignore the last 30 seconds, as this video comes from YouTube and it would take a lot of work to get the end taken off.

Did you notice how easy it was for them to carry on a conversation? Certainly, the dance is romantic enough, but not conducive for talking.

There are several things you do not do while dancing. Because everyone in the room is eather dancing or watching the dance, you do what it takes to follow the rules. Here are some examples:

  • When dancing, eather you and/or you partner must be wearing gloves.
  • Don’t dance more than two or three dances with the same person.
  • Don’t stop dancing in the middle of a figure.
  • Never leave your dance partner in the middle of the dance.

Dancing has changed a lot since the early 19th century. Yet, there is a lot that’s the same. Which would you reather dance? A waltz or slow dance? Which one do you think is more romantic?

Preston is not his real name?

I am not one of those type of people who tells complete strangers their life’s history. I have to get to know people before I start telling you about myself. So, you’ll be happy to know that I’m not going to tell you what I ate for breakfast, if my son won his baseball game, or whatever else might be going on in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I like meeting new people and getting to know them, but that’s not what this blog is going to be about.

What I want to blog about is the book I wrote, “The Search”, and eventually tell you about the second and third book I have already started on. Yet, I know you don’t want me to go on and on and on and on about that either. So, I think I’ve come up with a solution. I’m going to tell you interesting facts (at least I find them interesting) about the time period and location my book takes place in, 1831 London or England.

For example, during the time when Dukes, Earls, and other peers had titles that meant something, a title was sometimes used as a nickname. In my book the hero’s title is the Earl of Prestonshire. His father’s title is the Duke of Blackfield. These names could come from a nearby town, forest, lake, river, or the county they came from. The Earl of Prestonshire is called Lord Preston by close family and friends. His real name is Mark Hurst III. His father’s nickname is Lord Black, but his wife hates the color black, so, refuses to call him Lord Black. Instead she uses his given name which you can probable figure out.

At this time you may be wondering how a father and son could both have a title when generally a title is inherited. Well, it is not unusual for a monarch to bestow a title of hirer rank to someone already with a title. In this case, an ancestor had the title of Earl of Prestonshire when the reigning king decided to give them the title of Duke of Blackfield. The first son of a titled peer was often granted the use of the lesser title.

So, I hope you found this entertaining. I do not consider myself to know all there is about the Georgian or Victorian era. If I have my fact wrong I welcome your feedback. I’m hoping to find some of the link to websites where I found a lot of my information. I also purchased a book that helped me tremendously. It is called “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist – the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool.

 

 

Did I explain myself well enough? Is there anything else you would like to know?