Gentlemen’s fashions are a touch more difficult for me than the ladies’ fashions. It’s a real challenge to find pictures and corresponding descriptions. Even more important, I want my heroes wearing…well, for lack of a better word, manly clothes. Look at these descriptions of some of the men’s fashions of 1829:
Light blue embroidered gloves:
some young men have appeared at balls with blue dress gloves embroidered with white…
and silk cloaks:
…cloaks of the gentlemen lined with plush silk of celestial blue…
and hankies with embroidered corners:
…at balls our young exquisites sport pocket handkerchiefs of fine lawn with a hem as broad as their thumbs the corners only are embroidered.
and flowery shoes:
…shoes tied with a small rosette.
and stylishly curled coiffures:
…a young gentleman now suffers his hair to grow has it curled and parted on the left side of the forehead.
(these examples are all from The Mirror of literature, amusement, and instruction, Volume 13 By Reuben Percy, John Timbs, 1829)
Worst of all, corsets were in style for men. Here’s a caricature of the styles for 1827. Look how tightly those poor men are cinched up! (Also look at the poor ladies’ hats–but that’s a whole ‘nother post!)
© Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection
I suppose the Gentleman’s Magazine of Fashion (1827) said it best:
…they say that a tall, thin man with his waist pinched in, and if he is withal very full, looks like grasshopper in an asthma.
Sigh. Maybe I should stop researching and go directly to the Pride and Prejudice movies. Of course, these movies represented a time several years earlier than the settings of my books… Nevertheless, with some variations the basic idea is there: shirts, cravats, tailcoats…
So I’ll just think of Mr. Darcy.
Better yet, Mr. Darcy just after a swim…