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
Links to all four posts on the topic of Regency gentleman’s fashion are here:
Cover that Manly Chest!
Loving the Cravat!
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.
I think that men would have been delighted to move on to trousers. That is unless they had trouble tucking them into their boots. LOL. Great post.
Thanks for the interesting and informative post, Sharon. You truly are an expert in Regency fashion. I can’t wait to learn some new things about cravat tomorrow.
You have some really interesting things on your blogs Sharon, loved the photos especially. I learned some things I didnt know.
Great to hear, Cherri. I try to have a lot of information as well as fun stuff.
False calves! You have to love vanity 🙂 Thank you for sharing the inexpressibles with us.
Thank you for this. I am so glad that our modern clothes are so much more comfortable and utilitarian. Getting dressed in regency clothing was almost a ritual in it’s own back then. No wonder the upper classes hired people to assist them in getting dressed.
That is a big reason why valets and lady’s maids were essential. To dress fully, as the upper classes did, was next to impossible to do by oneself. Just tying the cravat was an art that a valet was needed for.
Love men’s Regency fashions. Thanks.
You are welcome, Suzi! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 And I know how much you love fashion because I repin from your Pinterest boards constantly. You are my go-to gal for cool Regency stuff 🙂
Love the articles (clothing and otherwise)! Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to the cravats.
Thanks for the description. As we read these Jane Austen variations, these do help a lot and clear up ideas in our minds as to how people dressed in those days. It is very interesting and my mind was on the right track all along. Thanks once again.
You are most welcome, Mary Ann. Visuals always help, which is how I ended up with so many pictures of places and things that I created the Portrait Gallery for each novel. And this is why I love Pinterest. I am forever finding new visuals to aid my understanding of what I learn through research.
Dressing in those days was indeed an undertaking. That is why having a lady’s maid and valet was essential.
Oooooo did you say cravat!!!!! Must be patient 😉
Today’s passage was very informative and I feel quite sorry for the poor men wearing all these weird and wonderful garments. I love the word inexpressibles!! Why oh why can’t we use these words in our current vocabulary? Sounds better than undies hehe
When placed on their own, the garments seem quite uncomfortable and are not particularly attractive. However all together with waistcoat tailcoat shirt inexpressibles and breeches the whole package looks quite nice especially on Mr Darcy 🙂
I don’t mind the trousers they looks very elegant and quite comfortable too. The slippers are too feminine for my liking. The hessians and half boots are definite winners in my eyes 🙂
I will not complain about any piece of my clothing from now on 😉
Looking forward to learning more about the sexy cravat next week. Thanks for all the fun Sharon xx
I did say cravat, Vee! Gotta wait a week 😉
The clothing does seem a bit much, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine wearing all of it. Of course, compared to other eras, clothing in the Regency was very light and breezy. Especially for women, in comparison (that will be a later series). I suppose it is what one gets used to. Zipper flies are easier for the fellows, I imagine, but I would venture to guess the “fall” fronts gave their, ahem, “package” more room to settle into. One of those questions to ask an actor like Matthew Macfadyen who so often dresses in period clothing! LOL! Seriously, I wonder if anyone has ever asked that? How hysterical that would be!
Anyway, better stop before I get into trouble with this line of topic. Shall we talk about cravats instead? 😉
Haha yes let’s move on to the cravat although I find it pretty sexy on our regency men 😉
I have read random interviews and when asked about the breeches most of the men say they are very uncomfortable and not so kind to their ‘package’. You are absolutely right in that other eras have much more elaborate costuming than the regency clothes. No wonder they did not generally have any other occupation. It would take them half the day to dress the other half to undress!