A Primer on Regency Era Men’s Fashion by Kristen Koster

This post on Regency era men’s fashion was originally posted on Kristen Koster’s blog.

Regency Era Men’s Fashion

Regency Era Men’s Fashion: Beau Brummell wears a Regency dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Beau Brummell wears a Regency period dress coat as daytime dress. The coat is able to close and the tails are knee length. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The terms Undress, Half Dress, and Full Dress were applied to men and women.

For men, “Undress” would include having his jacket and cravat removed, something that was not done in polite or mixed company if the gentleman could avoid it. Dressing gowns and robes also fit this bill for gentlemen lounging at home.

“Half Dress” for men would be less elaborate knots in their neck cloths, much simpler and more casual styles of clothing.

“Full Dress” and “Evening Dress” are the equivalent of today’s black tie affairs. Almack’s was a special case, where gentlemen of the ton were expected to wear breeches instead of trousers.


Small Clothes/Smalls/Drawers — short or long drawers (basically what we think of as long johns)

Stockings and Garters — calf-high, usually cotton or silk

Basic Garments

Shirts – over the head, not buttoned all the way up the front like modern dress shirts, collars would have been high enough to reach the chin when starched and standing up. the neck and sleeves might be ruffled or not and it was typically made from white muslin

Waist Coat – what we’d think of as a vest, these had a high collar and could be double breasted but were usually single breasted

Regency Era Men’s Fashion: Tailcoat with squared cut away in front circa 1812.
Tailcoat with squared cut away in front circa 1812

Tailcoat/jacket/coat – likewise, they could be double or single breasted, with a distinctive “M” shape to the tails

Pants — Men enjoyed a variety of pants of different lengths and snugness. Rather than a zippered opening as we are accustomed to, Regency breeches had a flap called a “fall” that opened in the front and fastened with an elaborate series of buttons. The width of the front panel determined if one was wearing “broad fall” or “narrow fall” breeches. The Historical Hussies have a great post on Regency Men’s Pants that includes a great illustration of this construction.

Breeches – during this period they were knee length pants worn with stockings and considered old-fashioned,  but they were de rigeur at Almack’s.

  Pantaloons — tighter fitting and extended to mid calf or below. These were bias cut to achieve a much closer fit and typically worn with highly polished tall boots

Regency Era Men’s Fashion: Great coat with capes, circa 1811.
Great coat with capes, circa 1811.

 Trousers/braces (suspenders) — originally worn by the working class, trousers became an option for the upper classes around 1807.

Regency men did not wear belts due to the construction of their pants & cut of their coats.

Inexpressibles – scandalously tight leggings that left little to the imagination.

Buckskins — made from deerskin, and were considered the equivalent of denim jeans in their day, comfortable and practical

Gentlemen, like ladies, had a variety of outfits that were considered appropriate to the activity. So one would have specific jackets that were more suited to riding, but overall the emphasis and time spent on dressing for the next activity was not as time-consuming for men as it was for women. Isn’t that always the case?


Great Coat – think of it as the flamboyant and dashing trenchcoat of its day, not all were as fancy as to have capes attached, but many were simple coats to keep one warm

Regency Era Men’s Fashion: A simpler overcoat for a stroll in the park or night at Vauxhall Gardens.
A simpler overcoat for a stroll in the park or night at Vauxhall Gardens.

        Shoes – worn for informal occasions and evening     events, usually made of leather

        Boots — typically Hessians and were acceptable during the day but not at night

       Cravat/stock – elevated by George “Beau” Brummel, this long rectangular piece of cloth was starched and then folded and tied in numerous ways ranging from simple to complicated knots, depending on the man’s rank and skill of his valet. You can get more information at Regency Reproductions and also a free pattern to make a cravat.

        Gloves, Canes, Pocket Watches, Watch Fobs, Quizzing Glasses — all indicators of wealth and status as well as functional and practical

        Wallets or Purses — made of leather or fabric to hold notes and coins

         Hats – topper (what we call a top hat), beaver hat

In the Bedchamber

Nightclothes/Nightshirt – basically a loose, ankle-length nightgown with a floppy open collar — all those heroes must be freezing in their birthday suits!

Nightcap — a knitted silk hat with a tassel on the end

Banyan/Dressing Gown – a loose, wraparound, floor-length bathrobe sort of garment, while the banyan was knee-length and more fitted. Rich-colored, luxurious fabrics were preferred, such as satin, velvet, or silk damask.

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  1. Times have changed, haven’t they? 😀 So much clothing. It makes me appreciate today. At the same time, there is something fabulous about history, clothing included. Thanks for the lesson!

  2. Good to learn how the clothes were categorized and how the fashion got transformed. Thank you for the knoweledge share.

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