Fashion Advice, 1858

fashionSnippets 136The American Gentleman’s Guide to Politeness and Fashion, by Henry Lunettes, was published in 1858. Ironically, “Henry Lunettes” was actually a pen name for Margaret Cockburn Conkling, daughter of politician and federal judge Alfred Conkling. One can understand why a pseudonym might have seemed necessary due to the subject matter of the book. Here is what Conkling considered an appropriate way for a gentleman to dress at the time:

The essentials of a gentleman’s dress, for occasions of ceremony are – a stylish, well-fitting cloth coat, of some dark color, and of unexceptionable quality; nether garments to correspond, or in warm weather, or under other suitable circumstances, white pants of a fashionable material and make; the finest and purest linen, embroidered in white, if at all; a cravat and vest, of some dark or neutral tint, according to the physiognomical peculiarities of the wearer, and the prevailing mode; a fresh-looking, fashionable black hat and carefully-fitted, modish boots, light-colored gloves, and a soft, thin, white handkerchief…

If you wear your beard, wear it in moderation – extremes are always vulgar! Avoid all fantastic arrangements of the hair — turning it under in a huge roll, smooth as the cylinder of a steam-engine, and as little suggestive of good taste and comfort as would be the coil of a boa constrictor similarly located, parting it in Miss Nancy style, and twisting it into love locks with a curling-tongs, or allowing it to straggle in long and often, seemingly, “un-combed and unkempt ” masses over the coat-collar. This last outrage of good-taste is so gross a violation of what is technically called “keeping,” as to excite in me extreme disgust. Ill, indeed, does it accord with the trim, compact, easily-portable costume of our day, and a miserable imitation, it is of the flowing hair that, in days of yore, fell naturally and gracefully upon the broad lace collar turned down over the velvet or satin short-cloak of the cavaliers and appropriately adorning shoulders upon which, with equal fitness, drooped a long, waving plume, from the wide-brimmed, steeple-crowned, picturesque hat that completed the costume.

If you enjoyed this “snippet” please consider sharing on Facebook or Twitter, to help other people find and enjoy Windows into History. You can keep updated each time I post a new entry by clicking on the follow button on the right of the screen. I welcome any comments or suggestions, and will consider guest posts.

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Books, History, People, Snippets, USA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s