With Reticence coming out soon, and it being Percy’s book, I thought I might do a bit on men’s fashion for a change, Fashionable Reader.
Here’s a quote from Reticence on the subject of Percy’s appearance…
“The others looked interested, surprised, and resigned according to their natures. Except Percy, who looked like none of those things, but just like Percy.”
I know the power of my prose (dum dum dum) in the Custard Protocol books ought to cast into your mind exactly the image of what men looked like in the 1890s, but frankly pictures are better.
The eagle eyes and costume-minded among you will have already noticed that Percy is NOT dressed appropriately to the 1890s in either of his covers…
Yes that’s regency wear he has on, around 1840s NOT 1890s. (Actually when I asked you to judge the covers I was expecting a bit more outrage on this matter). Suffice it to say, there is a VERY GOOD reason for his cover outfit. But no, what’s on the cover is absolutely NOT what a Victorian gentleman would ordinarily wear in the mid 1890s.
So shall we talk about what Percy should be wearing?
Here is a sample of 1890s clothing for gentlemen of the kind the Percy & Quesnel are oft described as wearing throughout the series.
|Fashion plate, 1880s-90s via shewhosorshipscarlin tumblr|
Hats have begun to get smaller and more refined than the earlier parts of the Victorian era.
The cravat is tied more simply, leans towards muted colors, and is beginning to look more like a tie. In fact we start to see the word “tie” being used for this piece of clothing, or something similar but cut of a thicker fabric and shaped more precisely and thinly around the neck. Also the bow tie becomes the rage for evening.
Higher collars, narrow lapels, and vests (singled breasted) instead of waistcoats (double breasted) are more fashion forward. Trousers are draped and tapered but not tight. Shoes have become more uniformly black, shiny and laced. Rarely boots outside of the countryside and sporting events.
“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?'”
“The mood will pass, sir.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters
|J.W. Losse Tailoring, 1897 via dandyads-tumblr
Adjusted for inflation, one of these spring overcoats would run you $400-720 today.
This advert is an example of something it’s important to know about the late Victorian era, that professional garb is becoming ever more important, i.e the idea that you wear a specific kind of clothing for your specific job (as opposed to your station in society, although the two are linked). This is a concept in fashion that often collates historically to a rise in the middle class.
This next image is a little more modern but I imagine, given the prevalence of dirigibles in the Parasolverse, that something like this driving outfit would have been around earlier in the Parasolverse as a gentleman’s floating outfit. I can see Madame Lefoux rocking it.
|1906-1908 Driving Coat The Victoria & Albert Museum|
‘Jeeves,’ I said coldly. ‘How many suits of evening clothes have we?’
‘We have three suits full of evening dress, sir; two dinner jackets—’
‘For practical purposes two only, sir. If you remember, we cannot wear the third. We have also seven white waistcoats.’
‘Four dozen, sir.’
‘And white ties?’
‘The first two shallow shelves in the chest of drawers are completely filled with our white ties, sir.’
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
So why is Percy on the cover of Reticence in REGENCY garb?
“…the jacket was of the kind one’s grandfather wore in the 1820s. It was blue with puffy shoulders and large collar, and cropped in such a manner as to exaggerate certain frontal sectors of a chap’s anatomy, sectors Percy was tolerably certain a respectable gentleman ought to be exaggerating. Which was to say, he had received compliments in the past, but only from ladies who were monetarily encouraged to be positive on the subject.”
You have to read the book to find out why…
Note that in this one Percy’s trousers are awful tight? THere’s a reason for THAT too.
Yours in designer men’s wear,
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