Clothes and the Man

CbkpirateJo here, thinking about men's fashion, helped by Charlie in sartorial excellence as a pirate. The blog on the appeal of the Scottish historical often mentioned the kilt, and it got me wondering what style of men's fashion we find most appealing. I'm going to run through some general historical styles, and invite you to have your say.

For some reason Typepad still won't let me adjust image placement, so I apologize for the slightly messy layout.Clothes Click on any image to enlarge it.

Ancient We'll touch briefly on the loosely garbed ancients. For this blog I'm not considering armor. I get that the toga was probably supposed to suggest that the man didn't have any manual labor to do, but it's not exactly sexy, is it? But by all means praise it if you want!

Gray-medieval-warrior-tunic-for-menOn to the middle ages, which covers a whole lot of time. This handsome tunic is for sale here  Again, the style is for his leisure hours, showing he's not having to dig ditches or fight the enemy, but giving him time to compose songs in praise of his lady's eyes . I do find such long robes very attractive on the right man. Do you?

 It's a dress, though, isn't it? Does that matter? Kilts are skirts.

Speaking of which, let's take a moment to admire the men secure enough to join the Greek Guard.Greek_guard_uniforms_3
(By Robin from England (athens077  Uploaded by Future Perfect at Sunrise) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

So, when are men in skirts sexy and when are they not?

Let's look at the 15th/16th centuries, time of the peascod belly. Did they all have beer-bellies, and if not, why did they prize the look? I have a soft spot for the gorgeously-garbed guy, and this guy's garb is gorgeous.Hill

RochWhat of the wild Restoration rakes? The thing they had going for them was the periwig! What can I say? I love the look of a manly guy with really long, thick hair. John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester was one of the baddest of the bad, but I have a soft spot for him, perhaps because he was a poet. Or perhaps it's just the hair!

I know it doesn't show his regular clothes, but they weren't a lot different to the next few generations in the 18th century.

 Of course you know I love the fine plumage of the 18th century gentleman. The silk, the lace, the embroidery and braid. It's a shame the men in period portraits are never as fine as their clothes!Sirsampsongideon

 Which brings us to the Regency. I confess I don't find men's Regency clothing particularly sexy, though those high cut waistcoats and jackets did their best to flaunt their wares! This Ingres drawing illustrates the look very well.

1816grnt

 

 

 

 

Which means I have to go back in time and mention the cod-piece.Codp They did like to show off a good leg as well, didn't they?  

 

Beyond that, we come to the Victorian and the end of flamboyance in historical men's clothes. There is something about a man in a well-cut suit, but I still have that soft spot for flash.

SedinsilksmSo, what style of clothing do you think best makes a handsome hero even more handsome?

Have your say.

Jo

Coming in August. Read more about Seduction in Silk here.

Fit For A Prince

L&J Talbott-tuxCara/Andrea here, June is always a festive month, its summer-kissed days aswirl with a host of  elegant parties for grads and dads—and of course weddings! This past weekend, I attended the nuptials of my dear friend and HWW Lauren Willig. As was befitting for an author of historical romance, it Classic-tuxwas a fairy tale affair held in the Rococo splendor of a grand old New York City venue, and given that it was an evening ceremony, the dress was Black Tie.

Lauren, of course, looked like a princess in her dress, and her new hubby James was equally dashing—though we Regency authors did tease him a little and say we were a little disappointed he wasn’t wearing breeches and boots. (He admitted that he had been thinking about a kilt, in homage to his Scottish heritage, but decided it might be too itchy for a June evening.) Our kidding aside, he looked wonderfully handsome in his tuxedo (as did all the men in the room) and it got me to thinking about the origins of this iconic item of evening wear. So I decided to do a little research . . .

Edward-VII Young-EdwardDuring the 1860s, hunting and shooting parties were becoming more and more popular with the British Upper Crust at their country estates. And with all the vigorous outdoor activities, it was no wonder that some of the guests began to chafe at all the formal requirements for dressing. The Prince of Wales—later King Edward VII—a man known for his interest in wine, women and fashion, is credited with cutting away some of the constriction. Quite literally!

He apparently put in an order with his tailor, the esteemed Savile Row firm of Henry Poole & Co, for a “tailless dinner jacket.” They stitched up a blue silk smoking jacket for him (the firm says it has the original receipt but has been a little coy on whether the date is 1860 or 1865) and he began appearing at “informal” evening gatherings in his new creation. The Prince, or “Bertie” as he was known to both friends and his countrymen, was an influential arbiter Cary-grantof masculine style and so others began to follow his lead. (He is also credited popularizing the Norfolk jacket, the Homburg hat and the wearing of tweed, as well as pressing his trousers flat instead of with the traditional knife-edge crease down the front.)

ChurchillNow, the threads get a little tangles on how the tailless jacket made its way to America. One version says that in 1886, the Prince invited a wealthy New Yorker named James Potter to visit Sandringham, his country estate in Norfolk, and when Potter asked for sartorial guidance for the occasion, Bertie advised him to have one of the new-style jackets made up at Poole & Co. Potter then supposedly wore it at the Autumn Ball which took place annually at Tuxedo1Tuxedo Park, a private residential enclave  and sporting club for the rich not far from New York City which was built by Pierre Lorillard IV, heir to the tobacco fortune.

Astaire-movie-posterThe more popular version of the story has it that the jacket was introduced at the Ball by Griswold Lorillard, Pierre’s son, who was a well-known rebel and reveler. Regardless of who wore it, there is no debate on the venue.
The garment, which naturally caused a stir on the society pages of the press, was dubbed the “Tuxedo” jacket, and the rest, as they say, is history.

James-bond PrinceesThe tuxedo has since become synonymous gentlemanly elegance. Film stars of the ‘30s, famous politicians, dapper English spies—honestly what man doesn’t look “to die for” in this classic? And that goes for modern-day British Royalty too. The current princes (fluttery sigh) look rather delicious, don’t they. I think we girls ought to send up a smile of thanks to their fashionista ancestor.

Wills-harry-kateOkay, I’m a very casual dresser and usually prefer sweatpants and T-shirt for my daily attire. But I do occasionally like getting dressed to the nines . . . and I confess that I love the sight of a man in a tux. How about you? Do you like seeing a guy all spiffed up? And does the man in your life like putting on a tux? Or does he moan and groan over having to don formal attire? And lastly, what celebrity do you think looks divine in formalwear? (My vote goes to Cary Grant . . . though I must say that Sean Connery and Daniel Craig are pretty hunky.) Do dish!