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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Ball Gowns: Regency vs. Victorian

When I selected a time period for my book, right or wrong, I picked a time when dresses had the Victorian look, but women had not yet started to wear corsets. It was a time just before Queen Victoria’s reign. Somewhere around the middle to the end of the 19th century was when women began to wear the big hoops under their dresses like you see in “Gone With the Wind”.

In the first chapter of my book (which you are welcome to read here on my blog), my heroine, Cynthia, wear’s a  late Regency dress. I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to spoil the fun of who the dress once belonged to. To get an idea of what she was wearing compared to what all the other ladies were wearing I’ve put together a chart.

Regency

Victorian

Filmy, gauzy material Heavy material
Usually made of muslin Usually made of velvet or silk
High waistline Waistline at waist
Bolder ladies dampened their chemises underneath As many as 6 petticoats and a corset

As I’ve mentioned before, ball dresses were white, but did you know that most wedding dresses were not white? That tradition hadn’t started yet. I’m not sure when it started. I’m sure you can imagine why ladies didn’t wear white dresses. After a year or two of going to balls and having to wear white gowns, I suppose a different color was refreshing.

With the Victorian dress, there would have been an elaborate necklace. Women word their hair up and decorated with a hat often times with a long feather or two sticking out.

Of course, I’m not an expert on what was fashionable for the Regency lady or the Victorian lady. If you know something of interest, leave a comment and tell us. 🙂

Which do you prefer? Regency or Victorian? Why?

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?