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Men's Clothing

The typical 1850s wardrobe for men consisted of a jacket, trousers, a shirt, a vest, and a necktie. However, farmers and other working men often wore simple smocks during the day. New England farmers are known to have worn white cotton or unbleached linen smocks even into the late 1880s.

The smock in the image below is a typical working man's smock. What is humorous, though, is that the man dons a very fashionable English hat along with this everyday work frock.

1850s Working Smock

1850s Working Smock: Image courtesy of Joan L. Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900, 1995

Early 1850s jackets were long with narrow sleeves. After 1854, wider sleeves with a higher armscye (the opening on the garment to which the sleeves are sewn) were introduced. Lapels also became wider and the collar became shorter on the back of the neck. Early 1850s trousers were also narrow, but wider trousers were introduced after 1854. Trousers were usually quite long and tubular, with no creases. All trousers had fly fronts. Vests of the 1850s were generally double-breasted and most hung past the waistline of the trousers. During the late 1850s, unmatching checked vests and trousers were often worn together.

The men in the image on the left are quite fashionably dressed in their wide, long jackets, long, straight, checked trousers, and checked, double-breasted vests. The youthful pair in the image on the right also display the mismatched checked patterns of the era

1850s Men's Attire 1850s Men's Attire

1850s Men's Attire: Image courtesy of Joan L. Severa

The cut of the 1850s coat can be easily seen in the image below. Notice its length, the wide sleeves cut high on the shoulder, the wide flat lapels, and low collar. The straight, tubular trousers also add to the outfit.

1850s Men's Attire

1850s Men's Attire: Image courtesy of Joan L. Severa

Neckwear generally consisted of stiff, two-inch wide silk ties horizontally tied into a flat half-bow. After 1857, the tie became narrower and the shape more horizontal.

1850s Neckwear 1850s Neckwear

1850s Neckwear: Image courtesy of Joan L. Severa

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