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By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com
Antique Fashion & Costume Plates - Part 13
Male Fashion Through Fashion Plates 1800-1900
The carefully selected fashion plates from James Laver's Fashions and Fashion Plates 1800 - 1900, a petite little 18cm by 12cm book of 1943, includes some reprints of men's fashion plates from all the well known fashion journals of the C19th century.
Male fashion changed comparatively little throughout the century once the John Bull style was set at the turn of 1800. Generally it remained rather sober in keeping with Victorian industry. It was only after 1900 and the practical requirements necessitated by the 1914-18 war that more relaxed styles entered general fashion styling. As always this was mostly initially through sportswear or battle dress which is always more accommodating to the realities of function in dress. Eventually the more relaxed way of dressing enters mainstream fashion.
This site concentrates solely on female adult fashion history my main interest, but the fashion plates from this little book are so representative of male dress in the C19th that I include them here with their original text description for those who need a very basic image of Victorian male dress. You can see all the female fashion plate selection from this book here.
Male Fashion Through Fashion Plates 1800-1900
Le Beau Monde, 1807
No description by Laver on the male dress, but the female dress is described so is included here:-WALKING DRESS
An elegant walking dress, is a straw gypsy hat, tied down with a white silk or a rich half-lace handkerchief; a muslin gown, ornamented with knotted work crossing the shoulder to correspond with the bottom of the dress. The body is made quite plain to draw round the bosom, and fulled in the back to imitate the frock waist, with a light-yellow sarsnet or camel-hair scarf, richly diapered at the ends with various colours; the scarf is worn so that the dress may be exposed, tastefully tied with a careless knot in front. Lilac gloves and half boots made of kid, a beautiful white down muff, adds much to the elegance and splendour of this much-admired Walking Spring Dress.
Le Petit Courrier des Dames, 1840
MEN'S MORNING DRESS
Cut-away coats like frock-coats are made lighter and more supple, stiffening being suppressed. The revers are a little wider, opening wider across the chest. It is young, it is dashing, it is elegant, all at the same time, and what is more important, it is new. The waistcoats are of the fashionable Valencia. The trousers are of light woollen cloth.
Le Petit Courrier des Dames, 1850
Most men wear the frock-coat with two rows of buttons, with a short skirt, the sleeves and body of the garment easy-fitting, the collar and revers plain. The trousers are of coutil, white, or with widely spaced stripes, rather narrow and falling straight over the boots.
The Gazette of Fashion, 1861
MEN'S WALKING COSTUME AND SPORTS COSTUME
The first figure on our engraving represents an easy form of walking coat. It is single-breasted, with a bold turn at top. The waist is long comparatively to the length lately worn. The back is cut broad across to the scye (armhole). The side-seam is tolerably straight. There are three holes and buttons only at front, the top one reaching nearly on a level with the bottom of the scye. The skirt is plain, and reaches to the knee. There is no seam across the waist, as the coat is cut with a side-body let in, a style still retained in France, although totally exploded in this country. The pockets are in the plaits, one outside the left breast, and one in the right fore-part at the hollow of the waist.
Another style of morning-coat is illustrated on the centre figure. It is very different in character, and partakes more of the jacket form. It is single-breasted, with low waist. The back skirt is only open a short distance from the bottom without a tacking. The fore-part and skirt are cut in one, and a long fish taken out under the arm to reduce the coat at the hollow of the waist and give freedom over the hip. There are three buttons and holes at front. Narrow collar and low in the stand. Sleeve easy.
Single-breasted morning waistcoats without collar having been much worn during the summer, will continue in favour for the autumn. They are usually made to button up rather high.
Trousers for morning wear continue to be straight in the leg. The side-seams are lapped rather broad.
On the third figure we have the representation of the costume for shooting worn by French sportsmen. The jacket is single breasted, long in the waist, and also in the skirt. There are four buttons and holes at front, and a narrow collar; sleeve roomy. A pouch pocket in each skirt and one to each fore-part.
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This Fashion Plates Page Added 8 Oct 2005
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