Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

A book I’m really fond of right now is Fashioning the Bourgeoisie:A History of Clothing in the Nineteenth Century by Philippe Perrot, translated by Richard Bienvenu.

When department stores like Le Bon Marché first opened their doors in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, shoppers were offered more than racks of ready-made frock coats and crinolines. They were given the chance to acquire a lifestyle as well–that of the bourgeoisie. Wearing proper clothing encouraged proper behavior, went the prevailing belief.

As opposed to many fashion history books, this one offers not just timelines on when skirts became wider, but tries to explain the meaning of it, the meaning of fashion both in the nineteenth century as well as in contemporary society, and researches issues such as the lack of colour in mens suits since the 1790s. It’s quite academic, (actually, I found it in the university library) and it’s great to see a more serious, scientific approach to Victorian fashion history.

The book contains a lot of interesting images and fun anecdotes, which I will post about soon. Did you know for example that buying secondhand clothes was already in use in the eighteenth century? And buying something, wearing it to a party, and returning it to the warehouse the next morning was a known occurence in the nineteenth century, as well as people who stole things compulsively, and men who visited warehouses in order to sniff women’s clothes and steal their handkerchiefs?

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Last time I gave a link to some great mustaches. But it was not easy to maintain such an accessory for the face. In the movie ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (highly recommended!) you can see Hercule Poirot wearing a special mustache-protecting device when he goes to sleep, in order to keep the ‘stache in the right shape. But, more drastic measures were taken. Fellow blogger Rob Campbell from Dumpdiggers told me:

We sometimes find ‘mustache cups’ when we are digging in century old dumps here in Toronto.

A mustache cup was no different than a regular tea cup (or coffee cup) except it contained a flap of porcelain on the top of the ceramic cylinder that would protect a man’s moustache from becoming soaked with beverage whilst he was sipping the brew. Of course, ladies suffer for beauty, also. Here is how one puts on a hoop skirt:

Found on the great site engelfriet.net, which is sadly all in Dutch. He also mentions that, at the ultimate width of hoopskirts, ladies carried little dogs on them…I so wish this was true, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any picture evidence.

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I first saw this kind of trousers at my job, sorting costumes, and I thought it was pretty smart. They are called ‘fall front trousers,’
‘drop front trousers,’ or sometimes ‘flap pants.’ Zippers were not in use in the nineteenth century, and having a button front closure on trousers might have been seen as uncomfortable or not elegant enough, the trousers were closed with a ‘flap’ which buttons on the sides or top. Under the flap, the waistband has a front closure so you can open the flap without dropping trou (convenient, convenient.) The pockets are also located under the flap. Trousers like this were worn from the French Revolution onwards (1790s), around 1840 the centered trouser closure was introduced but for a long time the two styles existed simultaneously.

Picture credit to vintagetextiles.com

My very favourite emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was a big fan.

Now you might think, I want one of those! Luckily, Marc Jacobs thinks they’re very sexy too:

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