What are your thoughts on menswear/men's fashion post-18th century? I personally think that it's been pretty stagnant, but I don't know much about menswear in general. I don't really read/hear people talk about it in (terms of historical dress) too much, so I might be completely wrong
Men’s Regency Fashion
transition of men’s fashion from the 18th century to the early 19th
century can best be described as the desire for a more casual and active look. At
the end of the 18th century the politics of the established, as well
as new, governments were becoming less rigid and embracing the ideas of
Enlightenment and more reliance on the self. This emphasis on the self and
intelligence inspired a Greek revival, which is why this era is referred to as
Neoclassical. This revival influenced fashion as well as politics and
popularized the “new natural style” of women’s dress modeled after Greek
statutes. This also affected the way men’s clothing was cut and worn, making
the fabric more form fitting in order to portray its beauty.
fashion historians attribute this era’s look to Beau Brummell, a young man
close to the Prince of Wales. He drew his fashion sense from his time in the
military and the less formal “riding” look. He was well known and considered
one of the most handsomely dressed men in the country, which didn’t help his
already inflated ego, or his image as a dandy. Men followed his lead and chose
to transition their day wear from frock coats (which would take on another meaning in the years to come) and stockings to tailcoats and
longer breeches that ended below the knee for a seamless look with the hessian
or top boot.
As with a more casual look, wigs fell out of style, with the help of a 1795 powder tax, and the longer hair kept in a pigtail was abandoned for a cropped windblown look often helped with hair wax. Many of the hairstyles were named after notable Romans-Caesar, Titus, Brutus- as well as the angelic cherub.
Napoleon sporting the Caesar
The shorter TItus
The Brutus, the popular hairstyle worn by Brummell and his “followers”
evening look of this fashion era remained similar to the day look but with different
footwear. Rather than sporting the popular boots of the day, men wore dress
shoes with a low heel, some with buckles. Wearing heeled shoes also required
the men to abandon their longer breeches for knee breeches and stockings. For
the torso, the tailcoat was usually dark in color, navy being the most popular.
These darker coasts covered white shirts and white waistcoats. A common
accessory was the Chapeau-bras or bicorne which was carried under the arm. The use of wigs during the evening was usually one of personal preference and was more popular with older generations.
court dress, there is little difference between the late 18th c. and
early 19th c. The frock coats with beautiful metallic embroidery and
matching breeches took on darker jewel tones and white waistcoats were the
standard dress for men at court. They continued to wear the shorter breeches
with stockings and slippers and festooned themselves with wigs, which for the
younger generation were only worn at court, swords on their hips, and the bicorne
under their arms.
accessory that was of great importance to men of this era no matter the time of
day was the cravat or neck-cloth. A simple white cloth cravat became popular in
regency fashion over the lace frills of the late 18th c. Our old
friend Beau Brummell played an important role in popularizing the many looks of
the cravat. It is said that he had the idea to have his neck-cloths starched in
order to get a better knot and wear out of them. This also created a lot of work
for his valet Robinson who would have to remove the piles of limp failures that
did not meet Brummell’s standards.
next installment of men’s fashion in the 1800s, we’re going to talk a lot about
pants so get ready!
Machine-knitted cotton with applied silk braid, metal and pearl buttons and linen tape
“An intricate pattern of loops and applied braid decorates the front of this pair of pantaloons. Pantaloons were a form of close-fitting trousers or tights introduced into fashionable dress during the 1790s. They complemented the close-fitting lines of early nineteenth-century men’s coats as they were shaped to the leg, often ending just above the ankle where the button fastenings or straps kept them in place. Although difficult to cut and put together without causing unsightly creases or wrinkles when the leg was moved, they could look extremely elegant. The tailor J.Golding extolled their merits in his publication of 1818: ‘This is an article of dress very generally worn, and when made to fit well, are [sic] exceedingly neat and convenient, as they may be worn either with gaiters, boots, or over stockings only’.
Pantaloons also brought the glamour of military uniform into men’s fashionable dress, especially when teamed with Hessian boots. Uniforms worn by the various armies during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) were often very colourful and lavishly adorned with braid and tassels. It is hardly surprising that some of these attractive trimmings should have infiltrated fashion, particularly when nationalistic feelings ran high. Civilian pantaloons were often ornamented with military-style braid that was applied in a vertical band of topside Russia braiding. They were not, however, generally decorated on the front, which suggests that this pair was for military use. The silk braid is applied in the form of an Austrian knot, which was a popular motif on pantaloons of the light cavalry such as the hussars and light dragoons.”
It amazes me how fine they were able to get the knit of this fabric so long ago. I’d like to learn some textile history to answer some of my questions of 'How did they do that?’.