What a Regency Gentleman Wore
As a Regency author the topic of what a gentleman would wear is high on my list of need to know information, and it’s one of the reasons I love the Regency era so much. I morn the, relatively new, failure of men to dress for the occasion. Sometimes when my husband and I go out, it looks as if we’re going to two different places. No, no, no, when it came to dressing, there was no ‘guy culture’ during the Regency. Some men might prefer to be able to put their jackets on themselves, while others wore them so molded to their shoulders, they required help. Yet, gentlemen could be as persnickety when it came to their clothing, and who was to care for it as the ladies. Beau Brummell is given credit for the clean lines and darker colors of men’s dress during the era.
Shirts were mainly white muslin. You will see they did not button all the way down, and are quite long. That is because many men didn’t wear drawers to protect the fabric, they tucked their shirts under them.
Waistcoats, worn over the shirt, ran from plain to elaborate. Here are some examples.
The cravat, which came next was the piece de reistance of a gentleman’s ensemble. It was a foot wide, long piece of muslin and starched ironed. Valets were never supposed to tie the cravat. It was considered a gentleman’s responsibility to get the thing exactly right. They had names such as Trone d’Amour, Mathematical, Hunting, Ballroom and many others. Some men made up their own style. Brummell was known to go through up to a dozen neck clothes when tying his cravat. Gentlemen generally changed cravats three times a day.
Here are the directions for the Mathematical.
The Mathematical Tie (or Triangular Tie), is far less severe than the former. There are three creases in it. One
coming down from under each ear, till it meets the kust or bow of the neckcloth, and a third in an horizontal
direction, stretching from one of the side indentures to the other. The height, that is how far, or near the chin is
left to the wearers pleasure. This tie does not occassion many accidents.The colour best suited to it, is called
couleur de la cuisse d'une nymphe emue.'
There were even illustrated directions.
Regency jackets were cutaway style with tales. Many gentlemen had them so fitted that they required help to don them.
Moving lower, next came breeches, pantaloons, and trousers. Though trousers did not become generally popular until after 1816.
In the country and when riding men wore buckskin breeches. They were normally made of deerskin, form fitting, and said to be extremely comfortable.
Here you can see a man dressed for riding.
For regular daytime wear, gentlemen wore either breeches or pantaloons, trousers became popular after 1816. Generally pantaloons were made of a knit and cut 2 inches smaller than the
For the evening, although pantaloons were gaining in popularity, breeches were still required at Almacks. None other than the Duke of Wellington was turned away for wearing pantaloons.
Here is an image of evening dress.
Finally we get to footwear. Boots were worn during the day but never in the evening. For balls and all other evening entertainments, even going to ones club, pumps were required.
In my Regency novel, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, Anna is particularly fond of the way our hero dresses.
That evening she met the rest of the guests in the dining room. Rutherford started to approach more than once, but Anna stayed with a group of ladies, chatting as if she hadn’t noticed him. When it was finally time for dinner, a Mr. Matthews escorted her in. Thankfully, they were seated several places away from Rutherford on the same side of the table, so she’d not have to see him.
The best thing she could do was keep her mind busy with the problems at home and on her smuggling gang. That would keep her occupied.
After dinner, she excused herself early and went to her room. Sitting in the window seat, she tried to shake off her disappointment over Sebastian. She never really thought of him by any other name, though she called him Rutherford now. Tonight he had been perfectly dressed as always. His black jacket fit snuggly setting off his magnificent shoulders, with not a wrinkle to be seen. His shirt points were high enough for fashion but not so high he couldn’t turn his head. And his cravat. Anna wanted to sigh. No one but Brummell could tie a cravat like Sebastian.
How do you like your man dressed?