This is a new design which I recently made for a customer. He requested a custom made Victorian shirt, trousers and cravat. After sending me his measurements, I started work on this wonderful project.
I used a wonderful book by Robert Doyle called The Art of the Tailor, for the patterns.
The trousers were from black drill cotton, using a straight trouser leg pattern. The zip wasn’t invented until the 1920s and wasn’t used to close garments until the 1930s. So before that trousers were closed with buttons at the fly. Victorian Men would use braces to hold their trousers up. I used a pair of early 20th century trousers from my small costume collection as inspiration. Books are amazing to learn from but having an actual item from the period to study, well nothing beats that!
The shirt is the very basic part of a gentleman’soutfit. The patterns in Doyle’s book are drafted from a book written by Fredrick Kogos. From the 1840s collars and cuffs became detachable as they became dirty quicker than the rest of the shirt. The collars and cuffs could be washed and pressed separately and was added back onto the shirt using studs. I’ve not used this method on my shirt and attached the collars and cuffs directly onto it.
Shirts have been in fashion for centuries. A collar on a shirt has been used to close the shirt at the neck. In the 1600s men wore elaborate ruffs around their necks. The ruffs started small but by Elizabethan times, they reached very large dimensions. Around the 1670s the neck cloth or cravat replaces the falling band collar as a means to keep the shirt closed at the collar.
The cravat has played an important role in men’s fashion. It has been used to close and decorate the shirt. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, the cravat became more elaborate and fancy using different fabrics and colours. With the development of the industrial revolution cravats became simpler and bow ties were also created. The neck tie as we know it today came into use around the late 19th century and has stayed as an important piece in men’s fashion.