Fashion for the Regency Gentlemen ~ Finishing Touches!
I am finishing my four-part series on fashion for the stylish Regency Era gentleman. I happen to adore fashion from these bygone days, so can promise I will revisit the topic from time to time. If nothing else the ladies need a series to even the score! And as I have said before, the images I share in these posts are a sliver of what I have available on my Pinterest Boards, and those collections are a sliver of images floating around on Pinterest and the internet in general.
Links to all four posts on the topic of Regency gentleman’s fashion are here:
Cover that Manly Chest!
Loving the Cravat!
Today I’ll finish the series with the finishing touches to a sharp-dressed man’s ensemble. Much like the females, a completely put together dandy did not leave the house unless perfectly attired and coiffed. Heaven forbid! And at the end of the day, he took it all off – mind out of the gutter, ladies! – and lounged before bed, so I talk a bit about that too. The clothing, that is, not the bed part. My novels cover that 🙂
A very tall, straight top hat with a narrow curled up brim was the height of fashion during much of this period. These were called beaver hats due to being made of beaver skin, or “toppers” or simply top hat. The curve, slant, and size of the brim varied, as did the height of the hat. Typically black, top hats could be of any color.
The bicorn was popularized as a military fashion and was worn by Napoleon, though some civilians wore it too. Many specialized types of headwear were in use as well such as the flat, round hats of sailors, the shakos of soldiers or the coonskin caps of American frontiersmen.
Men’s hairstyle of the Regency Era was short to medium at the sides and back but longer on top where the hair was often brushed upwards for height. Volume and curl was the key! If one was follicly-challenged the hair was ruffled with wax, twisted, and fluffed into a wild style. Short curly bangs and curls at the sides of the face above the ears were also fashionable. Some men did wear their hair long, particularly on the European Continent. Sideburns became increasingly common, but virtually all men were clean shaven. Mustaches were worn by a few military officers, but beards and goatees were unheard of. Wigs were only worn by the older gentlemen who clung to their ways.
Accessories, or Accourtements
Gloves, canes, pocket watches, watch fobs, snuff boxes, and wallets of leather or fabric all enjoyed wide usage. Rare was the item owned by a wealthy gentleman not of the finest materials and adorned lavishly. Swords were not carried by civilian men by the late 1700s, although the smart man did not travel without protection. Blades were frequently hidden inside walking sticks, and small pistols were kept in jacket pockets.
Long overcoats, or greatcoats, with collar and lapels styled similarly to the tailcoat, were worn for cold or inclement weather.
Nightshirts, usually, would have been the same shirt worn all day long tucked into pants or breeches. This long shirt also filled the role of underwear for men, as drawers were still decades away from popular acceptance. Some men did wear hats to sleep in, primarily for warmth. When lounging about or eating a casual breakfast, a “nightgown” was worn over the nightshirt and trousers were added. Essentially this “nightgown” is what we think of as a “robe.” These nightgowns were heavy or lightweight fabric, depending on the time of year, with pockets on the inside, styled and sewn in a variety of ways but always long. A “banyan” was another name for this type of garment.
Thank-you so much for all this wonderful information. Do you have any idea how the gentlemen carried their money as, for the majority of them, their breeches, waistcoats and tail coats do not seem to have any pockets! Very intrigued!
I hate to admit my ignorance, but in the section on hairstyles, who in the world is the gentleman on the right that everyone is supposed to recognize? I have been familiar with the Regency for about 20 years now and I have no idea who he is, and cannot find the portrait via any sort of search. I would greatly appreciate finding out who it is I should apparently recognize! My thanks, in advance, for relieving my curiosity!
A trick, sparklepunch! LOL! Seriously, he isn’t “famous” to most. A portrait artist named Léon Cogniet (August 1794, Paris – November 1880, Paris). He is well known to me and my readers as the portrait chosen to depict Dr. George Darcy on my novel, The Passions of Dr. Darcy. With a minor bit of photo manipulation to make his eyes blue rather than brown, Cogniet fits my vision of Dr. Darcy to a T! Quite yummy too. 🙂
These are fascinating stuff and I have a wonderful time looking at the pictures and reading the information on Regency men’s fashion. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us, Sharon.
My pleasure, Luthien. I hope you checked all the images I have on Pinterest. Scads of stuff out in cyber world!
Sharon, I have enjoyed this series on men’s fashion so much ….. please, may we have some more?
Thank you, Clorinda. Next I am posting an every Monday series on Regency marriage, including the fashions. Perhaps after that I can tackle women’s clothing. It is very fun stuff!
Thanks for another interesting and entertaining passage about men’s clothing Sharon. I will admit they probably appeal to me more than women’s clothing 😉
Oh my goodness I cannot get past the fact that the mans shirt is worn all day and for sleeping AND as underwear! Thank goodness in romantic novels we don’t discuss how smelly the gentlemen would be by the end of the day/night! Luckily we focus on how handsome they look in their finery 😉
Top hats are sensational! What a statement! I don’t mind any of the hats really, I think they would all work depending on the situation in which they are worn.
I admit to being very surprised at men coiffing their hair. I thought it was pure luck that you either had beautiful hair with waves that sat perfectly or you didn’t and you hid away in the shadows 😉 well I never thought of men taking so much time to prepare their hair anyway 🙂 my handsome hubby has naturally wavy hair which always sits perfectly, lucky for him.
Love the great coats once again a fabulous statement, they exude finery and elegance to me. And I thoroughly enjoyed all of the amazing portraits and pics you provided Sharon, esp Doc Darcy 😉
More interesting tidbits! I never knew (well most, if not all of it!) that a man’s nightshirt (and underwear?) was usually the shirt that they wore that day.
Thank you for this series!
Thank you for amother part! I thought all the accessories were interesting. When I saw the nightwear, I instantly thought of the jacket Mr. Darcy wore walking through the field in the early morning in the 2004 version of Pride and Prejudice-WOW! 🙂
The quizzing glass seems so feminine. Were the styles for men encrusted in jewels or pearls like that? Enjoyed the article!
Good question, Kathy. I can’t say for sure if the image here is for a man or woman, to be honest. You do see more pictures and drawings of men with the quizzing glasses than you do women, although that may have more to do with the vanity aspect. Surely women used them too. Still, as for the fanciness of the design, while a lady’s object might in general be more ornate, in this era the craftsmanship of just about everything leaned toward a grander style. The line between “masculine” and “feminine” wasn’t quite as stark as we think of it today. Plus, having an item with superior crafting, jewels and other costly materials, was an immediate indication of one’s wealth and importance.
Thank you for the information. The greatcoat is as I pictured it & I now know what a banyon is. Also, thanks for the series. It was fun as well as enlightening.
You are most welcome, Deborah! So happy you have enjoyed the series, and learned some things too!