It’s well-known that women took care of their appearance, but men’s style was just as important. Men didn’t wear make-up or indulge in as many cosmetic enhancements as women, but they had to follow rules just the same.
The Rules of Men’s Style in the Victorian Era
Today, men’s and women’s clothing is much more interchangeable. While you’ll find fewer men wearing dresses than women, you can certainly find women who wear pants, shorts, “men’s hats,” and other clothing that used to be male-only.
Like women’s clothing, men’s clothing tended to be stiff, formal, and didn’t expose much flesh. Most people don’t think of Victorian clothing as bright and colorful, but blues, greens, and other brilliant colors were quite popular throughout this time period and are making somewhat of a comeback with a modern twist today.
Here are some of the most common outfits and clothing items worn by men in the 1800’s:
- Outfits – The outfits were designed to impress and make a statement. It was important to wear the right outfit for the right occasion. There were specific outfits for all of the popular leisure activities, from golf to horseback riding. Also, it was important to wear the right outfit for the time of day, and there were outfits to wear to social gatherings, at home in the morning, changes for dinner and so on.
- Coats – Men must have several types of coats: morning coats, frock coats, dress coats, and overcoats. Many coats were very long and buttoned up high, though others opened low, showing off the linen underneath. Detachable capes were also available, and popular during the latter part of the century. Later, the blazer was introduced and worn at casual gatherings, sporting events, and other leisure activities.
- Hats – Hats were an essential element of every man’s wardrobe. Top hats were sophisticated and classy. They were to be worn on formal occasions and at business meetings. Boater hats became more popular later in the 1800’s, since these straw hats offered good protection from the sun, plus ventilation for the heat. Bowlers were another very popular look for this time period.
- Chamber Garments – Men were careful of their garments and appearance both indoors and out. At home, “chamber garments” ranged from robes and dressing gowns to negligee. There were special garments to be worn in smoking rooms, such as smoking jackets, with outward-facing trim and labels. The more money a man had, the more expansive his clothing collection, which could include poker jackets, shaving coats, pajama suits, and so on. Think Hugh Hefner, but with less money!
- Mustaches – It may sound silly, but a “fancy mustache” in this time period said a lot about a man’s status. Handlebar mustaches became extremely popular at this time and the longer the twirl, the better! These age-old facial hairstyles have made a come back in the millennium, bringing this time period back into style as well. Contests and clubs have actually been formed around these particular looks and are gaining popularity as time goes on.