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Mens Early Victorian Clothing

Mens Early Victorian Clothing (1830's - 1870's)

The lengthy Victorian Era brought about changes in men's fashion, whether prince or pauper. Beginning with the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837 and lasting until the turn of the 20th century, the early decades of this period ushered in cultural and industrial changes impacting what men wore at home, work and social situations.

In general, clothing continued to bear much of the staid yet sophisticated style of the preceding Regency era. But, unlike the expensive, custom-made fashions reserved for the wealthy, clothing became increasingly accessible to the everyman as the Industrial Revolution took off and newly-invented sewing machines hummed in high gear to keep up with demand.

Ready-to-wear suits, dress and work shirts, and other garments were increasingly accessible in the bustling department stores of larger cities as well as through catalog companies - it was the beginning of the end for homemade clothes. These efficiencies in manufacturing and distribution drove prices down, providing nearly every man the opportunity to dress a little better whether for farm or fete!

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Complete Early Victorian Outfits

We offer a full line of men's period clothing which are suitable for movie and TV production, theatrical, living history and performing arts requirements, and are also perfect for vintage weddings!

All of the products we sell are sold individually, but we have put together these full outfits to showcase the elements of Regency style for your consideration and inspiration.

Click any image for a close-up and a list of the products shown.

Mens Early Victorian Clothing

Elements of Early Victorian Style

Mens Early Victorian Clothing Mens Early Victorian Clothing

Even with increased availability to the masses, gentlemen's fashion was still heavily influenced by the upper echelons of society, especially the whims of royalty. HRH Prince Albert, the Queen's husband and royal consort, was youthful at the time of his wife's coronation and was fastidious in his appearance, immortalizing him as the poster-boy for this early era's elegance -- what he wore in public most often became the latest fashion rage.

Coats - Frock coats, seamed at the waist and skirted to mid-thigh, were growing in popularity by 1850 and out pacing the tailcoats and cutaways of yore as daywear. The most common style of the frock coat in the 1850s and 60s was a very generous cut - with a full skirt and looser fit through the arms and chest. At the same time, colors grew darker for coats and jackets with black being the benchmark, but also deep browns, charcoals and olive drabs were on the scene. Early in the royal marriage, the Queen's consort popularized the double-breasted frock coat and the regal, refined shape was mimicked by the masses and eponymously dubbed the "Prince Albert."

Vests / Waist Coats - Not all early Victorian fashion was somber-toned; wearing a brightly-hued waistcoat (and/or tie) was the manner in which a gentleman added a pop of color and personality to his ensemble. Open trade routes to Asia, opulent damask, rich jacquard and silk fabric drove down the cost of import of these desirable fabrics -- no white shirtsleeves were complete without a dashing waistcoat. For business, conservative dark vests in wool or cotton appointed bankers, bean counters and merchants. As it was considered impolite, if not plain uncouth, for a man to be seen in bare shirtsleeves by anyone other than his wife, even laborers donned utilitarian vests of denim, dock canvas and heavier cotton.

Trousers - Pants and trousers were also most prolific in black or dark tones with the occasional plaid or striped trousers for the more fashion-forward gentleman wishing to make a statement. Waistbands sat high and pant legs were wider and more accommodating than in the preceding Regency era. Most trousers were also rigged with suspender rivets and a button fly - the previous fall-front style had fallen out of favor by mid-century. The fascination with tight knee breeches and stockings had also discernably waned with the exception of roomier knickers for sporting and leisure events.

Shirts - A white starched shirt was still the staple in dress shirts and as elaborate cravat styles of the preceding Regency era fell out of favor, shirt collars began to change. Shorter collars were common as well as a folded down wing tip style. Detachable collars and cuffs were expected for dressier or formal occasions. Work shirt styles were less rigid and included full-placket and pull-over styles, bib fronts and a wide selection of colors, stripes and patterns.

Hats - Top hats took off again in the 1850s thanks to HRH Prince Albert and were shaped in a belled or straight sided stove pipe style. Newsboy and Applejack style caps with eight panels were prolific as both a working class hats and as gear for golf, croquet and other higher-society sporting activities. As the 1860s progressed, derbies become more common along with billed caps such as the kepis worn by soldiers during the war.

Cravats and Ties - Stiff starched cravats and elaborate neck embellishments declines in popularity, but neckwear was still important during the early Victorian decades. Cravats were often styled into bow ties, which grew back to gigantic proportions by the mid-1860s. True dandies wore large and brightly colored bow ties, but more sedate bow ties and puff ties were more common place.

Footwear - Boots remained the most common style of footwear but were often shorter in length. Laced shoes, made popularized by Thomas Jefferson, and Congress Gaiters were also in step for the time. Spatterdashes (Spats) were sometimes worn to keep mud and muck out of these lower-style shoes, or simply as a fashion statement.

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