Gentlemen’s Fashions, 1851
Three versions of fashionable dress for the suave man-about-town appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine, October 1851. The admired mid-nineteenth-century silhouette was slender and all three figures wear the narrow trousers then in vogue, their sleek effect accentuated by subtle stripes or a contrasting band or stripe along the outside seam. However, the male wardrobe was just beginning to diversify around this time and a choice of upper garments is displayed here: on the right the traditional frock coat; in the centre the ‘cutaway’ or morning coat; and on the left one of the new loose ‘paletot’ jackets.
Gentleman usually wore a tall top hat of felted beaver fur, the crown typically around 7-8 inches high in the 1840s and 1850s. Prominent bushy sideburns were popular, as seen here, and these would begin to extend into beards after mid-decade. Cravats and waistcoats could be rather colourful in the early 1850s, but increasingly most gentlemen favoured a discreet appearance and over the following decades the trend was for growing uniformity and sobriety in Victorian men’s dress.