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.
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.