Mrs. Parks and her merry co-hostesses, Mrs. Strong and Miss Parish, know that finding an appropriate ensemble his daunting enough for the ladies. But believe it or not, it can be harder for the gentlemen! Men’s fashions may not change swiftly, but the difference between men’s clothing over 200 years is very significant!
As such, please let us assure you that modern suits, so long as they are accustomed to the occasion (jackets or vests, ties, dress slacks) are more than welcome! We want you to be comfortable and have a good time.
But, if you have a more ADVENTUROUS bent and would like to participate more fully in the conceit of the evening, taking the time to put together a men’s ensemble that evokes the Regency will be both admired and well-complimented by all of the best dressed ladies!
But how to go about it?
If you (or someone you know) is a sewer, there are a few options out there. There are patterns available for period costumes, if you have the time to devote to it:
http://www.oldtimepatterns.com/regencymen.html — This page has some options for Regency Waistcoats (vests), tailcoats, breeches, and militia coats to help get the gentleman into the swing of things.
Also, this Simplicity-Burda pattern is an option for a militia coat. http://www.simplicity.com/p-7272-burda-style-napoleon.aspx
If you have SOME sewing skills but not the time to construct garments from the ground up, there are some shortcuts you can take. Lets go over some options piece by piece. Trousers and Jackets are probably the most difficult to put together and take some sewing/pinning skills.
This technique made the rounds on Pinterest recently and is certainly good enough for “government work”.
Get the pants at a thrift store or inexpensive store in white, khaki, navy or black. Flat front. You can go a size or two too large and use suspenders instead of a belt to get the waistline up where it needs to be (which is at the belly button).
Cut off the trousers about 2 inches below the knee and create a notch at the outside of the knee. Hem the knee and then add a button or snap at the notch to close the knee.
Use the fabric you just cut off from the legs to create a panel that will cover the fly. Hem the edges of the panel. Seam across the bottom and 1/4 way up the sides. Add buttons and button holes to the top corners. Don’t feel like you have to get fancy with the button holes, just make it so that some large buttons will keep the flap up. Metal, wood or leather buttons look the best.
Remove the beltloops and sew the front pockets shut if you want.
TIP: Cut off the trousers low enough below the knee to stay BELOW the knee when the gentleman is sitting down. This will make finding socks a bit easier.
Voila! Quick and easy breeches!
During the time period, the shirts would have been “puffy shirts”– kind of like pirate shirts. But for the sake of expediency, a white modern shirt that’s a bit too big will do. This is something you can get at a thrift store for most men. They wore the collar “popped” so that the points framed the chin and used a “neckcloth” (see below) for a tie.
WAISTCOAT (or vest)
Vests are also something that you can get at a thrift store for most men. To make it look more historical, simply flip the points at the bottom-front up under the vest and pin them or tack them down with needle and thread. The bottom front should be a straight line across.
But, if you have a sewer in your life, making a period waistcoat is one of the simplest patterns for men and they go together pretty quickly. Even this Simplicity pattern can be modified by cutting the pattern straight across the bottom. http://www.simplicity.com/p-1806-men-costumes.aspx
There were lots of styles of “ties” or neckcloths of the time period. You can get your own by taking a length of fabric (usually white) about 5-6ft long, and about 3 inches wide, wrapping it around the outside of a popped up collar and then tying it into a square knot or, for the most period of gentleman, a thick bow.
For the more fashion forward “cravat”, the cloth should be about 4ft long and 6-8 inches wide. Fold the center section in half lengthwise, put it around the neck on the outside of a popped collar. Then wrap it into a half knot so that one flap is at the front and the other at the back. This creates the “waterfall”. Then pin it into place with a pearl headed pin!
See examples of neckcloths and how they are tied at our Pinterest Board: http://www.pinterest.com/percfresno/neckcloths/
Thrift Store Hint: If sourcing a long piece of fabric is difficult, hit up the women’s scarves at the thrift store. when folded into a triangle diagonally, they are usually long enough to fake a waterfall cravat or a thick bow.
SOCKS AND SHOES
Shoes for men in the Regency were usually flat slip-ons similar to Italian loafers or tall boots for “men of action” while out riding, hunting, or in the military. If you don’t have shoes similar to below, worry not. At our party, a modern dress shoe will, of course, suffice.
Socks can be difficult t0 source. If you aren’t wearing boots that cover your calf and go up to your breeches, you’ll need a tall white cotton sock that covers your whole calf and reaches almost to the knee. Target often carries tall cotton socks for women and they are stretchy and durable enough to fit over an average man’s calf. Otherwise, find the tallest, all white socks you can find and make your breeches low enough to meet them!
Again, the jacket can be the toughest part to get together for men. We won’t turn away men in their shirtsleeves at the door!
The no-sew option is to try and find a tuxedo jacket at a thrift store. But creative hands with a needle and thread can take a hip-length or longer winter coat from a thrift store and cut it into the shape of a Regency jacket. Usually it means outlining (with chalk) where you’d like to cut away the coat in front to create the look and then hemming the cut sections shut again. You can do the same with the back to make tails.
Now that you have some ideas on how you can get that Regency style, we hope you’ll take a few steps to enter into the world of Regency delights. We respect that everyone has different goals when they attempt historical costuming, so rest assured that we will be delighted to greet you in your finery- whether from 1814 or 2014!
See you at Mrs. Parks’ Rout!