1800s clothing for men

Written by verity jones
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1800s clothing for men
A top hat was a luxurious accessory for men in the 1800s. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

As the 1800s progressed, men's clothing changed in style. However, the styles of men's shoes and accessories remained about the same. Napoleon was a significant influence on the changes during the century, as he wore more tailored attire. However, peasantry could not afford fashionable clothes and wore the same style of clothing right until after the 1920s.

Early 1800s

During the first half of the 19th century, men generally wore trousers with a short fitted jacket. Underneath, men wore a frilly vest, while for more formal occasions, men included a wide cravat. The look was also defined by the mismatched colours of the trousers and jacket. In comparison, peasantry wore cast-off clothes; since many worked in factories, they favoured more practical, ill-fitting and comfortable clothes.

Mid-1800s to Late 1800s

Toward the end of the 1800s, black became the colour of choice. For example, for formal occasions, men wore black trousers; a vest; and tailcoats, which is a full-dress coat with two long skirts at the back. Colours became duller -- blacks, browns and greys. Men no longer preferred mismatched colours and the often flamboyant fabrics of the early 1800s. However, shirts had higher collars than the early 1800s and men tied sashes around their waist to streamline their look.


During the 1800s, peasants wore wooden clogs while noble gentlemen had leather shoes with buckles. The middle classes also wore leather shoes and boots, and this continues up until the present day. Both long boots stretching up the knee and shorter ankle boots were available in a two-tone leather. Depending on the gentleman's preference, he could have buttoned-up, laced-up or slip-on shoes.


Accessories often defined a man's status during the 1800s. For example, a high-quality top hat signified nobility and wealth. White gloves were fashionable and accompanied any gent wearing a formal suit. Men wore different types of material, for example, a lace shirt, a silk cravat and chamois gloves. Men tarted up their collars or lapels by pinning flowers to them, while wealthier individuals pinned diamond studs to their cravats. Toward 1900, canes became an important Victorian accessory.

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