Last month my blog was about writing a Pinkerton Detective Agency story, and I'd mentioned how this story was about a woman agent. During my research, I also found how my hero is supposed to look in America, 1871. I've always enjoyed historical movies - mainly to see the clothes the men and women wear - but I'll admit, I enjoy seeing a sharply-dressed man just as much as a beautiful ball gown worn by a woman.
The late 1800's had the men changing their appearance from top hats and cravats and breeches, which was what they wore in the early 1800's. So let's do a little comparison to see how the years changed the fashion.
Early 1800's - the tall, elegant style of hats expressed a look of wealth and decorum.
Late 1800's - the top hat shrunk a little, and they became rounder and more square. Wool caps were even making their grand appearance, and a lot of men thought this was a great fashion trend. Men were rarely seen without a hat, because - just as in the early 1800's - wearing a hat somehow turned them into a true gentleman.
|YUM-ME, right? Regency guy|
Early 1800's - men's coats were tailored to fit the gentleman. They were mostly solid colors and had padded shoulders to help make the man's waist slimmer. (can you believe it??)
Late 1800's - the suits were a big fashion hit with the men in those days. There were many different styles, which were worn during different times of that day (pretty much like a woman's gown). These suits added a variety of colored fabrics, fancy stitching, and the fashion even dared to use stripes or plaid. The suits were more colorful, as well, which of course made them more appealing. Combined with the standing collared white shirt and necktie (instead of a cravat), and decorative sewn vests, women found that men were more attractive and confident in their new fancy duds.
|Hubba-Hubba - Regency man|
From what I could tell, there weren't a lot of differences in the way trousers had changed throughout the years. Some had button flaps on the front, some only had one button to fasten the flaps together to keep the family jewels discreetly hidden. But from the pictures I'd found, trousers seemed to become more relaxed in the later 1800's. Men didn't wear them so tight that they could be confused for the French acrobatic leotard (created in the late 1830's). Pinstriped trousers became more popular, as well.
Sadly enough, men kept the same undergarments throughout the 1800's, and into the early 1900's. They wore tight-fitting, knee-length flannel drawers, also called breeches and pantaloons. During the US Civil War, men wore union-suits - a one-piece, long undergarment that was long-sleeved and long-legged. Let's just hope they wore these during the cold winters because they'd cook to death during the summer!
Now that you know the difference, I bet you'll be watching those historical movies a little closer now, right? I remember when I first learned about everything a woman had to wear back in those days, but now... <groans> Those poor men!
By the way... my favorite website to find these awesome historical clothing and very fine models is Period Images. Permission was given to use these watermarked pics.