Dressing Up Info
  Welcome! 1830s A Note on the Fashions

The 1830s was the high point in the tailoring business, because the straight-hanging coat style of the 1700s had been out of fashion so long that the practice of fitting a coat to the body with seams had been refined to an "art." Tailors developed all kinds of measuring systems and mathematical formulas in an attempt to draft consistent, fashionable patterns, and yet had to work by feel and by eye to fit the individual, as each gentleman comes with his own particular shape. Coats need to be padded, reinforced with buckram, and altered to cause the man with, for example, a hollow chest and one shoulder higher than the other, to look perfect.

Tailoring shops became so busy and popular that they began to supply the cloth there as well, and add it to one's account. Custom made clothes were so valuable that even the most affluent customers returned items to the tailor to be mended and remade over and over, the cost of which was also added to the account. Accounts were carried for months at a time before being paid, much to the tailor's annoyance, and indeed some upper class gentlemen did not pay their tailors at all as a point of pride.

The coats of the 1830s are cut broad and round across the chest in front, and narrow across the back, with the sleeves gathered at top back. The waistcoats are also broad in front, occasionally have a standing collar (leftover from previous decades) and often lacing up the back. Trousers were worn, but more common were pantaloons, cut tight and shaped to the leg almost like tights. They open across the front with a flap called a "fall." The long overcoat gradually becomes fashionable in the 1830s, replacing the cloak for daywear, although capes may still appear in the evening ensembles.

While England was perfecting the art of tailoring, out of France came a trend among young people for more flambouyant clothes. As a statement of rebellion starched collars were thrown out, and red satin waistcoats all the rage, among the Romantics, a new generation of "broken dandies" who would rather be original with a scarf or bit of ruffle than don the grey wool suit of the middle class. Taking after Lord Byron, Franz Liszt, and Walter Scott, some Romantics were young men of a moody aesthetic who dyed their hair black and wore makeup to look sickly pale.