Fashion for the Regency Gentleman ~ Inexpressibles!
Every Monday in this month of love I am posting a blog on fashion and accessories for the Regency gentleman. Along with a wealth of awesome pictures I will give a bit of history and detail. The images chosen for this series of post are of real garments kept in museums and fashion plates from magazines. The examples posted here are a small number compared to what I have on my Pinterest boards: Sharon Lathan on Pinterest
Today, as promised, I am carrying on the lesson beginning with clothing designed to cover the lower portion of a man’s body. Indeed, those areas of a gentleman’s anatomy that a true lady would never look at or even think about! *gasp
Polite company referred these garments as “inexpressibles” if they talked about them at all. Clearly, the gentlemen did not know this fact about the fairer sex since they went to a great deal of effort to accentuate their assets, as you can see in this drawing of fashion maverick Beau Brummell.
Breeches remained the standard but were gradually fading out during this period. They were the proper item for evening wear and very formal occasions. Breeches did not disappear entirely for day wear until about 1825, and even then were worn for riding.
Breeches could be made of wool, cotton, linen or silk with the latter best for the most formal events. They tended to have a higher waist in front and a little less baggy seat than the late 18th-century version. They had a drop front, or “fall,” that could be “broad” or “narrow” depending on the width, were fitted tightly in the thighs, and buckled, laced, or buttoned just below the knees.
Pantaloons and Trousers
Pantaloons were popularized early in the 1790s by French revolutionaries. They had a drop front, were anywhere from mid-calf to ankle length and were worn exceedingly snug. Trousers reaching to the ankles became commonplace. They too were snug, had a high waist that came up at least to the naval, fall fronts, and often had foot straps to keep them tucked tightly in place.
Each of these lower body garments – called “inexpressibles” by delicate females – were held up by means of braces (suspenders). Braces fit over the shirt and crossed in the back, hidden underneath the waistcoat. Fabrics could be of wool, linen, cotton, nankeen, or buckskin. False calves were worn by the lesser man as a padding to render a more muscular physique.
Cossacks were a Russian inspired trouser, very loose fitting all around, and quite comfortable, if not so stylish. The image to the left shows the mannequin wearing an 1820s ensemble of cossack trousers with the foot straps visible (in real life they would be tucked inside the shoe) with a double breasted tailcoat and accessories.
Shoes, Boots, and Stockings
As much as we adore the vision of a man in boots, Regency gentlemen wore light slip on shoes most of the time. These pumps were leather, low-heeled shoes, typically black, some with buckles or laces but usually not, that fit below the ankle. Half-boots, more common for women, were worn by some men as well.
Do not despair, however, since boots were worn! As the Era progressed boots even for casual wear grew more common. Boots were high and of black or brown leather. Hessians with their tassels dangling from the front was a style of boot derived from the standard military wear. The low heel and pointed toe were perfect for mounting a horse and fitting into a stirrup. Wellingtons were similar to Hessians, but made from softer calfskin, cut closer to fit around the leg, and stopped at mid-calf. The taller riding boots that we see in the movies and many portraits of the era were the standard-bearers for a man’s country, outdoors footwear.
Stockings were long and of wool, cotton or silk. Always white.