Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

My vintage dancing friend Cary recently asked me where he could buy reproduction Victorian formal pants or good modern equivalents. This is a topic I had to research a few months ago for my husband’s wedding suit. Here is what I found:

The Victorian Tailcoat:

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern ClothesFor the early part of the Victorian era men wore tailcoats, aka morning coats, all day. By the later half of the Victorian era tailcoats were mostly worn in the evening. Black was the only acceptable choice for evening wear because it had a slimming effect and thus made all men look handsome.  Besides color, evening coats were left open, to expose a nice white vest and shirt underneath. The appearance of single but usually double breasted buttons on either side of the jacket were purely ornamental.

Coat collars were notched in the V and M shapes for most of the Victorian era. The 1860′s introduced the shawl collar which remained fashionable for only a decade. The most common decoration on lapels were either facings in silk or velvet. Sometimes coat cuffs were trimmed in velvet too.

The length and cut of tailcoats changed from season to season. The main difference between Victorian and modern tailcoats is the fit. Today’s “One size fits all” fitting leaves tailcoats hanging loosely and boxy on the body. Victorian tailcoats were fit snugly on the body using the most advanced tailoring techniques (a lost art today.)

Where to buy a Victorian Tailcoat

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes
For authenticity you will have to have one made for you. But for a “looks close enough” type suit- nearly any modern tailcoat will do. Stick to black for evening wear with notch collar and decorative buttons. Jos A BankVictorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes carries a very nice tuxedo tailcoat that features the higher cut and open front design more accurate of the Victorian era.

Formal Victorian Vest or Waistcoat

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern ClothesElaborate embroidered waistcoats in fine silk, satin and velvets were the eye candy of men’s Victorian suits. However by the 1860′s only simple cloth or silk black or white (Ivory) vests were the only options. Vests were cut straight across the bottom and featured low V or U shaped necks with or without a shawl collar. Vests were always single breasted with cloth covered or jeweled buttons.

Unfortunately finding formal white vests, especially with a shawl collar is next to impossible. The closest matches are:

www.i-ties.co.uk/ – This one is a long V shape with flat square collar. I’ve seen in worn on men and they look very nice in it.

www.uniformalwearhouse.com – Similar to above. Be sure to get the full back option.

www.oliverbrown.org.uk – Has a long U shaped black waistcoat with shawl collar. They have a few “buff” colored waistcoats for sale from previously hired waistcoats (rentals).

Formal Victorian Mens Pants

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern ClothesMen’s formal pants haven’t changed to much in the last 100 years. The main difference is the height. Men’s Victorian pants went up and down from belly button to rib rage depending on the fashion of the year. Legs were fitted narrowly and tapered to the ankle. Out-seams featured ribbon braids, inspired by military uniforms, for most of the Victorian era while a single ribbon stripe came about in the late Victorian era.

To make modern pants work for the Victorian era I bought regular flat fronted tuxedo pants, with a ribbon stripe down the sides. Since they need to fit very high on the waist you may want to buy one size up and hold them up with button on suspenders. If possible buy locally (or online with a very good return policy) and try on your pants with your vest. You should be able to move around, raise you arms, and not have a gap show between your vest and pants. I like Jos A BankVictorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes for quality pants as well as coats.

Victorian Formal Shirts

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes
Plain front, button down white shirts will work well for your Victorian suit. Some earlier fancier formal shirts had lace frills along the front buttons but these styles are much harder to find today. The most important element of formal Victorian shirts is the collar. Stiffened upright collars appeared in the 1860s and began to display wing tips in the following decade.  Turndown collars were occasionally seen in the 1860s and early ’70s.

To replicate this look you could either buy a tall detachable collar made for collarless shirts or simply turn up the collar on a standard dress shirt. A modern wingtip tuxedo shirt (no pleats) will also work quite well and is probably the simplest option although harder to find than pleated shirts.

Formal Accessories

Shoes- Black cap toe boots and oxford with white spats are the most formal. Find Victorian style men’s boots and shoes online here.

Hats- A tall black top hat made of beaver felt or silk were what every gentlemen wore to formal events and parties. Most modern top hats are made of wool or synthetic felt. These will still work OK for formal events. Just remember to take your hat off indoors to be a true Victorian gentlemen.

Gloves- A pair of white or ivory gloves will complete your outfit. Leave your gloves on at all time except while eating or using the restroom.

Here are some more men’s formal clothing choices for your Victorian to modern day needs:

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Tails Coat Tuxedo Jacket- Sizes 48-52

$190.00

Victorian and Edwardian tailcoats are very hard to find. Here is an excellent modern choice. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Signature Notch Lapel Tuxedo

$325.00

A classic tuxedo good for the 1940's to today. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Notch Collar Tuxedo Jacket- Sizes 54-60

$214.00

A classic tuxedo good for the 1920's to today. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Shawl Collar Tuxedo Jacket

$190.00

Shawl collar coats were exceptionally common in the 1940's and 1950's. A unique twist on a modern tuxedo jacket wlil set you apart. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Self-Tie Black Bow Tie

$23.80

A good formal tie looks best when self tied. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Peak Lapel Tuxedo Jacket- Sizes 48-52

$190.00

1940s style peak lapel jacket. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Solid Silk Pocket Square

$7.20

Complete your look with a complementing pocket square. All ages had pocket square. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Signature 3-Button Notch Lapel Tuxedo

$325.00

[Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Grosgrain Self-tie Bow Tie

$23.80

Understated elegance with a grosgrain texture. Bow tie is adjustable up to 18" neck. Dry clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Double-Breasted Tuxedo Jacket

$190.00

Elegantly tailored wool tuxedo jacket. Vent less. Dry clean. Imported [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Tails Coat Tuxedo Jacket

$190.00

Wool with soft shoulders. Superfine 2 star rating. Center vent. Dry clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

White Dinner Tuxedo Jacket- Sizes 48-52

$220.00

Elegantly tailored wool tuxedo jacket. Shawl lapel with soft shoulders. Center Vent. Dry Clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Pleated Front Tuxedo Trousers- Sizes 50-56

$82.00

Tuxedo Trousers. Pleated front. Wool with 5/8" satin band. Brace buttons, half-lined to the knee. Unfinished bottoms for altering ease. Dry clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Plain Front Tuxedo Trousers- Sizes 44-48

$70.00

Flat front makes these ideal for Victorian through 1930's and again from the 1960's onward. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Traveler Tailored Fit Tuxedo with Plain Front Trousers

$275.00

For those who prefer a slimmer cut. Wrinkle, water, and stain resistant. Natural stretch wool for refined comfort. Single breasted notch lapel with single-button closure. Q... [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Art Pique Bib Wing Collar Formal dress shirt

$54.00

Every man should have this shirt in your formal collection. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Signature Dobby Pique Wing Collar Formal Dress Shirt

$54.00

In the finest 100s two-ply long-staple cotton with a special finish that holds crispness while enhancing softness. French cuffs come with removable studs and extra durable ... [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Signature Royal Oxford Point Collar Formal Dress Shirt

$54.00

In the finest 100s two-ply long-staple cotton with a special finish that holds crispness while enhancing softness. French cuffs come with removable studs and extra durable ... [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black with Silver Pindot Vest

$54.00

Adjustable tabs, two front pockets, 5-button front. 100% silk front and 100% polyester back. Dry Clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Satin Tailored Vest

$60.00

Designed to match tuxedo lapels. Adjustable back strap, 5-button front. Dry clean. Imported. Polyester/satin. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Business Express Black Stretch Vest

$47.00

Designed to complement our 2- and 3-button jackets. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Tonal Paisley Vest

$54.00

5-Button Formal vest. 100% silk. Dry Clean. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Mother-of-Pearl Octagon Stud Set

$30.00

Genuine mother of pearl stone. Includes two cufflinks and four shirt studs. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

Black Onyx Stud Set

$30.00

Genuine onyx stone. Includes two cufflinks and four shirt studs. Imported. [Read more]

Store: Jos. A. Bank

This entry was posted in Victorian Fashion History on by .

About Debbie Sessions

Debbie Sessions is passionate about wearing history through fashion. She and her husband, Oscar, have turned their hobby into a career by teaching others how to re-create vintage style with affordable new vintage inspired clothing and accessories. We connect shoppers to the best vintage inspired clothing, shoes and accessories to buy online making VintageDancer a great place to start your shopping. When not working Debbie and Oscar enjoy living in their vintage 1920's house and raising their new baby girl in Reno, Nevada, USA

3 thoughts on “Victorian Mens Formal Wear with Modern Clothes

  1. Haley Sarpolus

    I need help! I’m looking for a two toned, cream colored vest with brown or red paisley pattern. It’s for my fiancé for our wedding. I can’t find it anywhere. Do you have any idea where I might find it, have it made, etc.? Thank you for any help you can give.

    - Haley (desperate bride to be)

    Reply
  2. Haley Sarpolus

    I need help! I’m looking for a two toned, cream colored vest with brown or red paisley pattern. It’s for my fiancé for our wedding. I can’t find it anywhere. Do you have any idea where I might find it, have it made, etc.? Thank you for any help you can give.

    - desperate bride to be

    Reply

Ask a question or leave some comment love....