Jedburgh30 Dagger: Hello everyone! Ladies and Gentlemen, Viv, Serafina and I are pleased to welcome you to the February Aether Salon – Haberdashery! An exploration of Victorian men’s fashion and how the styles developed during the era. I would like to thank each and every one of you for joining us today
As many of you know, the Aether Salon meets to discuss steam and Victorian topics on the third Sunday of each month, in Palisades and Academy, New Babbage. This is our 15th salon and I hope you are all as excited about being here today as I am.
Just a few matters of housekeeping before we get started. If you are standing in the back, please move forward onto the maze so that you can be assured of hearing the speaker. Please hold your questions until the end, and as a courtesy to all, please turn off everything that feeds the lag: all HUDs, scripts, AOs and so on. Please no weapons, bombs, rogue scripts, or contagious bioweapons. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Edited and unedited transcripts will be posted this week on aethersalon.blogspot.com so you can revisit today’s merriment, read transcripts of past salons, and for a laugh, peruse “overheard at the salon.” Please join the Aether Salon group and receive notifications of future salon events, click the lower right hand corner of the large brown sign by the entrance. We sincerely appreciate the support we receive from everyone in the community and we humbly thank you all.
Many fine people have contributed to today’s salon: We are grateful to Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings for the wonderful salon chairs, our speaker Edward Pearse for our craft contribution, Miss Ceejay Writer, Mr. Rafael Fabre, Miss Redgirl Llewellen, Miss Breezy Carver, Miss Ahnyanka Delphin for the stage and the citizens of New Babbage who make this event possible.
Mark your calendars for next month’s salon, Music Boxes! with Canolli Capalini, or as Viv has said “MINEMINEMINE!!!”. Upcoming Salons will include Ironclads with Commodore Hotspur O’Toole, Photography with Mr PJ Trenton, and Airwaves with Miss Gabrielle Riel. As a reminder, all speakers’ fund jar donations go directly to the speakers.
Now I will turn the stage over to Miss Viv for the introduction of today’s speaker. Viv?
Viv Trafalgar: Thank you Miss Jed – welcome everyone! We are so pleased to welcome Mr. Edward Pearse
Edward Pearse waves
Viv Trafalgar: He opened his first Menswear shop in Caledon Victoria City in December 2006 and one in New Babbage in January of 2007. Others in various Steamlands have followed. With his typist an accomplished amateur costumier, Edward was able to draw on personal research and his own wardrobe to find the references for making menswear in SL.
When he started out there was a distinct lack of Victorian Menswear. Since the ladies had been well catered for he decided to focus exclusively on men’s garments. Though pressure from female customers has lead to creations of ladies uniforms and the tartan skirts.
In addition, we find him perfectly charming and very fun
Edward Pearse grins
Viv Trafalgar: please give your attention and appreciation to Mr. Edward Pearse
Edward Pearse: Good morning all. Well it’s morning here
The Victorian Era lasted over 70 years and many of the influences of the latter part followed over into the 20th century up until the start of the Great War. In that time a great deal of society changed but one of the benefits of this change is that a great deal was recorded about how things should be done and a great many traditions and practices were written down and their changes noted.
“Fashion” itself usually started in Paris and spread to the rest of the world. It is worth remembering that the way clothing was made underwent huge change during this time as well. Typically clothing in the Regency Period or the Napoleonic Period (think Jane Austen or the Richard Sharpe telemovies) was all hand made from start to finish. Sewing machines had only started to be attempted in various forms.
Yet even towards the end of the 19th century “off the rack” clothes were still a rarity and most clothing was made to order and fit. Personally my typist has always favoured the later Victorian dress. Napoleonic fashions were not made for one whose build is decidedly not that of the svelte athlete. There are even stories of the French Imperial Guard using pigfat on their legs so as to squeeze into the ultra tight trousers of their uniforms. I’m not sure how they managed their reputation with the ladies
Thankfully gentlemen’s clothing had eased somewhat towards the late 19th century. While considerably restrictive by modern standards the clothing was more tailored than tight fitting. By and large a man’s wardrobe consisted of trousers, shirt, waistcoat and topcoat. And next time you hear the ladies bemoaning their corseted state, corsets were not exclusively a female domain
The colours for men’s clothes by this stage were usually dark. Black was worn by businessmen and the upper classes and dark browns, greens or blues by the poorer people. Black dye was notoriously difficult ((And I know this even with modern dies it’s damned hard to get done right)) While dark colours were not uncommon before the 1860s, bottle green, russet and plum were seen in gentlemen’s coats.
With Queen Victoria’s move into full mourning dress after Prince Albert’s death, her court and then the Ministers of Parliament adopted more sombre colours. This had a trickledown effect to the rest of the country and even to the East Coast of the US.
Colour still turned up in men’s jackets but was mostly left to the Music Hall, Vaudeville and travelling showmen. Gus mentioned recently on the Ning that the description of the clothes in “Puttin’ on the Ritz” hadn’t changed that much from what was worn in the 19th century. This is quite true. Menswear changes slowly but it does change.
Usually a case of the formality moving up. In the late 19th century formal Courtwear would have been knee breeches and hose with coatee style jackets for men. The “second most” formal was white tie with tails.
Then came the Lounge Suit (or the sack suit as it became called in the US). The tuxedo was a derivation of a lounge suit taken back to New York. But the shawl collar of the formal dinner jacket has given way to the peaked lapel of the modern suit. For a long time to 20th century men, the shawl collar was the difference between a tuxedo and a dinner jacket.
Proper dress was considered the mark of a gentleman. He would not be seen in mixed company in only his shirt sleeves and waistcoat, but would always put on a jacket. It’s also worth noting that in H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine, when the time traveller returns from his harrowing ordeal in the future he does not slump into the dining room ragged and gasping as in the George Pal movie, he changes for dinner first before coming downstairs to be with his guests.
This is the typical male silhouette for morning dress; not to be confused with mourning dress. The cutaway coat or swallow tail was a less formal dress than a frock coat and supposedly derives from the habit of gentlemen going for a morning horse ride in Hyde Park
The sack suit, which I believe was a disparaging name, originally; was less tailored and easier to make. Note that the top button is done up rather than the middle ones. This still allowed you to show off your waistcoat and chain
Rowan Derryth ponders the multi-course Victorian meals
Edward Pearse: Shoes are something else worth noting too: most menswear was ankle high boots.
Oh, minor tangent. Hunt down a documentary called “Edwardian Supersize Me” The chap lives for just a week on an Edwardian diet
Because streets were in many cases unpaved, or those that were were covered in the exhaust fumes of horses, getting your boots dirty was a common problem. “Spats” were an accessory to prevent mud spats from marring the finish of your boots, and like all menswear were slow in disappearing after their use had been outlived. Eventually boots with a suede upper were being made to give the appearance of spats without wearing them. Gaiters in general came up to the knee
Jedburgh30 Dagger: right, but the same concept as spatterdashes
Edward Pearse: But it can often be like the difference between suspenders, garters and braces, or pants and trousers. Braces and suspenders and cross Atlantic words for the same thing; however, suspenders and garters are cross Atlantic words for something different
One little thing I want to touch on is waistcoats. Now admittedly this picture is from 1935, but it shows my point.
Edward Pearse points to the waistcoat
Note there is no wide gap between the top of the trouser and the bottom of the waistcoat. Trousers were higher waisted back then and the modern problem of old length waistcoats with modern “hipster” trousers has been imported into SL
Also with the formal wear, note the waistcoat does not come below the edge of the jacket. Another common problem of the modern age brought into historical settings
Lastly, face fuzz. Or chin furniture. This gentleman for those who may not recognize him is WS Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. Young men commonly went clean-shaven, and it really wasn’t until WW1 that clean-shaven became the norm. Even then the officers still had a ‘tache. Also shaving with a cut throat razor while they’re shelling is not fun.
Edward Pearse: This is Arthur Sullivan
Gabriell Anatra: I recall reading about that. They needed to be sure the gas masks fit right.
Edward Pearse: Also sporting a nice set of whiskers. Oh, and as a note, if any of you have seen pictures of soldiers in the 1860s and 1870s (which I should have prepared) the huge beard many of them sport became a fashion after the Crimean campaign in Russia. Months of no access to razors gave rise to large beards. It became something of a mark of distinction
Most of men’s fashions have slowly passed away, but things like sleeve buttons on jackets or buttonholes on lapels are still added to mens clothing long after their original function has vanished in the past. It’s been close to 200 years since men’s jackets had buttonable sleeves, but they’re still added to modern suits
Edward Pearse: Miss Viv, how do you want to run questions?
Viv Trafalgar: well usually we ask people to say they have questions in open chat and then sera will call on each in turn and add to the list
Edward Pearse: OK
Jedburgh30 Dagger: Edward, the trend during Georgian times was to be clean-shaven. When did facial hair come in style?
Edward Pearse: who has questions? I can’t guarantee I’ll know the answer
Viv Trafalgar: Rowan, then Jed
Edward Pearse: But I can make stuff up
Rowan Derryth: Go ahead Jed…
Viv Trafalgar: Ok Jed then Rowan. Someone go 🙂
Rowan Derryth: I think Jed asked already
Viv Trafalgar takes a swig of medicinals from somewhere
Edward Pearse: I think the facial hair fashion was an outgrowing of the Crimean War beards. Obviously not everyone was at Sebastopol, but when beards became fashionable the trend changed over the passing years, men got experimental with their facial hair. I don’t know if any of you have seen teacups with a piece added onto the inside?
Rowan Derryth: I’m interested in the point about men’s fashion not changing too much in the Victorian era, but also particularly how some more Bohemian persons dressed…. it seems to me that where female dress could depart rather drastically from normative dress, men seemed to express themselves in their accessories more… hats, coats, etc… Can you speak to that a bit more?
Edward Pearse: The addition was there mainly so as not to get tea on the gentleman’s moustache. Moustache wax was commonly beeswax at the time. Hot tea on it did not help its style.
Rowan Derryth: Sorry if I asked out of turn
Edward Pearse scrolls back to reread the question
Edward Pearse: I can’t speak hugely on the Bohemians, but there were several attempts at dress reform, usually aimed more at the ladies
Rowan Derryth: I’m thinking of artists like Leighton, Watts, Hunt, wearing smoking caps… the Aesthetes at the Grosvenor… Wilde and Whistler of course
Edward Pearse: But menswear came under fire for its conservatism
Rowan Derryth: I wonder how far their activities departed from typical male dress
Edward Pearse: Artistes are their own breed really, though having something unusual made for you was not as hard back then as it is now
Viv Trafalgar: well self expression seems to be always restricted – in men’s clothing a tie pin and some cufflinks can only say so much
Rowan Derryth: Yes, it seemed more subtle…
Edward Pearse: Wilde was known to wear colour quite often
Rowan Derryth: Well, except for those writing about it… Baudelaire, the idea of the Flaneur. Yes, and breeches, etc.
Edward Pearse: As for gents accessories they were usually were they got to individualise themselves, between styles of walking cane, styles of waistcoat
Viv Trafalgar: oh – I have a question about walking canes
Edward Pearse: Even the assortment of fobs you had on the end of your watch chain
Viv Trafalgar: but I’ll wait – are there other questions?
Rowan Derryth: What did various fabrics/textiles signify… velvet for example?
Edward Pearse: Personal preference and wealth. A lot of fabrics were expensive or prone to fast wearing. Velvet being one that wore quickly. Velvet collars did not last as long as a crossgrain or a satin lapel
Viv Trafalgar: what about the significance of different walking canes
Edward Pearse: And both of those were shorter than a broadcloth lapel. There’s a lot been written about colours and fabrics and deeper meaning. I think a lot of it has been invented later on, sort of like “Clan tartan” 🙂
Edward Pearse: What was the next question?
Viv Trafalgar: walking canes – different meanings?
Edward Pearse: There were different styles of walking cane but I’m not aware of any specific meanings to them. Of course it’s very possible it’s something I’ve not read about
Viv Trafalgar: Edward would you put out the craft box?
Edward Pearse: Or at least there’s a lot of meaning added to it where most people just want to give “flowers”
Jimmy Branagh: (ominous silence)
PJ Trenton: shhhh
Viv Trafalgar: wondering
Rowan Derryth: Mmm
Bookworm Hienrichs holds her breath…
Beq Janus listens for the soft mewling of kittens?
Jedburgh30 Dagger crosses fingers
Ceejay Writer starts to get nervous.
Stargirl Macbain fidgets
Jimmy Branagh makes a secret sign
Edward Pearse: We switched to bunnies 🙂
Jasper Kiergarten: crashed and is quite confused
Beq Janus: glad to hear my suggestion was accceptable 🙂
Viv Trafalgar: next month will be Canolli Capalini’s music boxes, so please don’t come because i want them ALL
Edward Pearse: Fashion is one of those things you could spend months on and still not cover it all
Elilka Sieyes: Good night, and thank you for encouraging the appreciation of facial hair in New Babbage ;D
Viv Trafalgar: oh and this is a wonderful walking stick!
Edward Pearse: And thank you all for your patience 🙂
Serafina Puchkina: thank you, everyone, for coming today. Our next salon is Music Boxes! on March 21. Miss Capalini is the speaker
Beq Janus: Don’t forget that the Salon itself deserves your support people, the sign outside allows you to show your appreciation for the venue