Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Brief Evolution of Men's 18th Century Fashion

I will do a head-to-toe post on men's 18th century fashion later, a head-to-toe post being a basic overview of one particular style from head to toe, but for the purposes of this post, here is what you need to know about men's 18th century fashion. Men wore what we know today as the three piece suit. This consisted of a coat, a waistcoat (like a vest), and breeches, which are very tight pants that go to the knee. There are other components of men's fashion, but as I said I'll discuss them later. What I want to look at today is how these three pieces evolved throughout the century. Or rather how two of the three pieces evolved, as the breeches pretty much stay the same. Here is what you probably think of when you hear "18th century man".

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This is Gustav III of Sweden and his brothers in 1771. Sleek, fitted, and very suave. But at the beginning of the century, fashion was still retaining some of the bulkiness and heavy feeling of the baroque period.

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These two gentlemen are from an illustration from 1725 (I apologize for the size, it's the best I can do). Their coats have a huge amount of fullness in the skirt and the cuffs are enormous, lending a sense of heaviness to the garment. If you've ever studied art history, you know that one characteristic of 17th century art is that it's very heavy. Eighteenth century art, in contrast, has a very light, frothy feel. This translates to fashion (as well as architecture, music, all art forms reflect each other, it's really fascinating). These styles retain the heaviness and bulk of the 17th century, whereas the clothing worn by Gustav and his brothers has the light feel associated with the 18th century. Another thing to notice is that the coats also have the ability to close all the way.

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This gentleman from 1724 has his coat open, so that you can see his waistcoat. It continues in the fullness of the coat, and goes down to his knees.

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Our next dashing gentleman is from 1746. His waistcoat is also long, but the fullness in the skirt of the coat has gone down, and his sleeve cuffs have gotten smaller. In all, his coat is starting to get a sleeker appearance.

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Here we've made it to 1753-4. As you can see, things have definitely slimmed down. The sleeve cuffs have shortened considerably, and in doing so have lost a lot of their fullness. Although he's sitting down, you can see the the coat skirt is significantly narrower. The coat itself has started to slope back at the bottom, and so it can't necessarily button all the way down. This is a great example of a really common phenomenon in fashion- something starts out as functional and becomes non-functional but very fashionable. Buttons and buttonholes started as function, at this point they are mere decoration. His waistcoat has also gotten shorter.

Here's a gentleman from 1771 who is standing, to give you a better idea of what I mean.

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Note how these changes give a much lighter, more elegant appearance.

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Our final contestant is from 1795. His sleeve cuffs are gone, the waistcoat ends at the actual waist, and his coat slopes back considerably, creating what you might think of as a tailcoat. Men are now ready to enter the Regency period.

Please note that these are just general trends, and individual styles my vary.

26 comments:

  1. Well done, Katy! I'm not sure I could have been so thorough without all my resources. A handsome post on all counts. Bon chance with your theatre!

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  2. Medieval fashion always liked too is very original and makes it look very smart people!

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  3. This blog is really wonderful, i liked too much because is related with men themes and i became interested. Of course i like all about the men. They are really beautiful.
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  4. I'm still amazed how people in the age of Gustav III covered their bodies so extremely that only the hands and head of the person was notorious and the rest of the body was concealed beneath that bunch of clothes.

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  5. This is a really impressive and informative article. I like how you quickly detailed the evolution of the fashion, it inspires a broader and more meticulous and less stereotypical and restrained scope for artists to work with. It beats google image

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  6. This post is really beautiful. I like your post so much because this post related with men and men's fashion and i interested in your blog. Actually i search and found online shoes market like shoes uk because i want to go my friends birthday

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  7. Great history on the men's fashion in the 18th century! Thanks for the great post!

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  8. I Love Your Painting . it's very nice and Simple . but I really Love it. :)

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  9. Wow, what an awesome blog! I've always been curious about the evolution of men's fashion. Now I can't wait to watch "Amadeus" again and compare. :P

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  10. A coat was the uppermost layer of the 18th century man's suit, worn over waistcoat and breeches.

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  11. Great post dear keep it up

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  12. I like 18th century because it is connected through men style and I became interested in this fashion. I really impressed by Katy Werlin…

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  13. Hi Katy! I value an amazing fashion blog you have a lot of knowledge about this issue, and so much passion, Great job

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  14. Looks extremely stunning older men fashion I really like fashionable outfits and this is my favorite dressing...

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  15. To build a fashion story, you need a couple of young people, but to reflect on the nature of fashion, you're better off with old ones. That is a fact of life and of the business.

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  16. London is a good fashion city. They're a little more daring. There's the element of the aristocracy, which is always interesting.

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  17. I Love Your Painting. it's very nice and Simple. Great history on the men's fashion in the 18th century! Thanks for the great post!
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  18. I'm an old-fashioned guy... I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake or something.

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  19. It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.

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