Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts


Today we'll talk about men's clothes in the Regency era, which occurred about two hundred years ago in England. This post is a primer on the subject, because I'm no expert. But in order for my stories to ring true, I must know how to dress--and undress--my hero.

Our modern world began to take shape in the Regency. Many facets of the era are recognizable to our eyes, including men's clothes.

Here’s a list the Regency gentleman's wardrobe, and the modern equivalent, as close as I can find: (I apologize for the ragged table, but blogger is not cooperating.)

Modern--Regency

jacket--coat

shirt--shirt

undershirt--no equivalent

vest--waistcoat

suspenders--braces

tie--cravat

belt--no equivalent

boxer shorts--drawers

trousers--breeches, pantaloons, trousers (the Regency gentleman had 3 lengths)

socks--stockings (not quite the same)

boots--boots

shoes--shoes

Fabrics of choice were wool and linen because they were produced in the British Isles. Imported fabrics, like silk, and our everyday workhorse material, cotton, were luxury items and used mainly by the rich.

Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard:

Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.

This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.

The Regency hero--a handsome man with a great physique and gorgeous clothes. What a fantasy. Stay tuned for part 2.

Thank you all,
Linda

16 comments:

Maggi Andersen said...

Great post, Linda. Some men padded the shoulders of their coats and others resorted to wearing corsets!

Linda Banche said...

Hey, Maggi, nothing like enhancing your assets!

StephB said...

Linda,
very interesting post. Regency clothes sure were tight fighting, huh? I'm working on a Steampunk now and receiving quite the education in clothing! *smiles*
Steph

barribryan said...

This is a fascinating article. I like reading about this period in history and I love Regency romances.

Barri

Amber Scott said...

Great information! Now I shall dream of tightly clad muscular thighs all day long.

catslady said...

Not too many men could pull off that look nowadays (sigh).

Linda Banche said...

Hi Steph, looking at great clothes is always fun, especially if the wearer is a gorgeous male.

Hey, Barri, nice to meet another Regency lover.

Amber, we all need some fun in our days. Enjoy!

Too true, catslady. That's why we have romances.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating and fun article, Linda! The Regency was such a dashing era for males dress.

Rachel Rager said...

I LOVED the title of this post!!! Of course, the entry was good too! :)

Sherry Gloag said...

They recently did a tv program (in the UK) where a chosen family lived and dressed in the period. The selected period was - you guessed it - Regency. Even the kids said how much efect the clothing of the era had on their deportment - I mean can you imagine tyring to bend down in such tight clothes? Ladies, what a view if a man... whoa better not go there!
The children also said they kinda hadn't seen their parents as 'people' until they were forced to spend time with them passing the evenings with games and interests of the period.
The adult men, - father and eldest son - said the cloth made them feel 'a million dollars', and the women heartily thanked the Lord above for modern clothing :-0)

Great post Linda, thanks for sharing.

Celtic Chick said...

Great post. I have never read a Regency--men's clothing is too dandy for my taste (I prefer the leather/chain mail of the Dark Ages), but I have to admit that the tight Regency clothing is kind of sexy. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

kelleyheckart.com

Linda Banche said...

LOL, Rachel, thanks. I like the title, too. And I enjoyed writing this.

Sherry, I can understand how clothes can shape people's lives. Unless you were very poor, your clothes were made for you, and anyone will look and feel better in tailored clothes. There are exceptions. Most women's corsets came down to their hips, so they couldn't bend at the waist.

As for the rear view of the men, that's why their coats had tails!*G*

Hi Kelley, tight is sexy only if the right man wears the clothes. Regency men's clothes were tame in comparison to Georgian clothes, when men wore powdered wigs, makeup, silk, velvet, satin and high-heeled shoes.

Linda Banche said...

Lindsay, how could I have missed you! Thanks for coming over. I like the Regency male clothes. I think an already gorgeous man looks even better when he wears those clothes. Sigh.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Great blog. I was never into Regency, but wow, all those tight breeches, I'll have to investigate further.

Cheers

Margaret

P.L. Parker said...

Sounds really uncomfortable (from she who dresses in baggy clothes all the time--for comfort mind you).

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Margaret. The silhouette is certainly a draw.

Hi P.L. I remember one period letter in which the man wore doeskin (tight leather) breeches. Then he had to sit in a carriage for hours. He was suffering! But then, we all have to suffer for fashion. *G*