THE ORIGINS OF THE MODERN MEN'S LOOK
|18th & Early 19th Century England|
By Maggi Andersen
It was not in France but Britain that the classic style of clothes worn by men today began to evolve.
During the Georgian period, upper-class Englishmen were busy running their country estates. They needed fabrics which supported their sports, travel and life in the countryside.
|18th Century Frenchmen's clothing|
18th Century Frenchmen’s clothing
Surprisingly, the French, who remained in court and dressed accordingly, came to admire the sensible dress of the English. And in the 1780s, France became obsessed with all things English. This frenzy was known as Anglomania. Sir Walter Scott describes it well: “France, who had so long dictated to all Europe in matters of fashion, seemed now herself disposed to borrow the more simple forms and fashions of her ancient rival.”
Aside from the adoption of English butlers, carriages, dogs and horses, the French began to use wool for jackets instead of the traditional silks and satins. The French Revolution influences this, with the turning away from aristocratic forms of dress.
This resulted in a turning away of bright colors for men. The colors of jackets were limited to brown, grey, dark green, blue and black. Blue was acceptable for any occasion, and black reserved for morning (informal) or for eveningwear.
Regency riding boots
Boots were de rigueur, and by the 1820s trousers became the dominant item of clothing for men instead of breeches and pantaloons. The colors were predominantly tan, white, blue, grey and, occasionally, black. Normally one plain color but sometimes pin-striped. Materials were wool, cashmere, corduroy, cotton, linen, leather and silk.
Waistcoats were the main item used for color and variety. Sometimes two waistcoats were worn simultaneously to show contrasting colors. They were made in a variety of fabrics and often exhibited expensive embroidery. Many wore white or flesh colored waistcoats to give the impression, should the man remove his coat, that he was naked. Influenced by the Grecian Ideal, men were proud of their bodies and sought by fair means or foul (a little padding or corsetry) to display them at their best.
Shirts were white linen. A great symbol of flair and individuality was the cravat, which required several meters of expensive cotton. Tying it took a considerable amount of time and assistance. These were predominantly white, although some striped fabrics were used, similar to ties worn today. By the Regency era, cleanliness became an important factor and white fabrics demonstrated that the wearer’s clothing was clean. Regular bathing and the use of soap replaced the heavy use of perfume to disguise body odor.
The movement away from powder, perfume wigs, silks, lace, embroidery and stockings segregated the fashions of men and women to become more like our modern day understanding of menswear and masculinity, through the many changes during the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
1900′s-1920′s (Edwardian Period): A frock coat (a double breasted long coat) was widely worn as part of men’s formalwear during the Edwardian and Victorian periods. By 1910, three-piece suits became more popular than frock coats, but the slim fitted jackets and trousers were still worn.
And up to the present day...
|Contemporary Male Attire|
Maggi Andersen, Author of The Reluctant Marquess
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiandersenFacebook: Maggi Andersen Author
Resource: NAPOLEON and the Empire of FASHION 1795-1815 Skira.
FASHION IN THE TIME OF JANE AUSTEN Sarah Jane Downing Shire Library.