Men’s fashion in 1820s

Men’s fashion during the 1820s in European and European-influenced countries, the silhouette of men’s fashion changed in similar ways: by the mid-1820s coats featured broad shoulders with puffed sleeves, a narrow waist, and full skirts. Trousers were worn for smart day wear, while breeches continued in use at court and in the country.

Men’s fashion is always inspired by English chic: sober colors and shapes. The pants, legacy of the Revolution, is usually worn and the pants are abandoned little by little. One wears large capes and the top hat becomes the indispensable accessory of every self-respecting man until the First World War.

By the mid-1820s, men’s fashion plates show a shapely ideal silhouette with broad shoulders emphasized with puffs at the sleevehead, a narrow waist, and very curvy hips.

A corset was required to achieve the tiny waistline shown in fashion plates. Already de rigueur in the wardrobes of military officers, men of all middle and upper classes began wearing them, out of the necessity to fit in with the fashionable gentry. Usually referred to as “girdles”, “belts” or “vests” (as “corsets” and “stays” were considered feminine terms) they were used to cinch the waist to sometimes tiny proportions, although sometimes they were simply whalebone-stiffened waistcoats with lacing in the back. Many contemporary cartoonists of the time poked fun at the repressed nature of the tightlaced gentlemen, although the style grew in popularity nonetheless. This was the case especially amidst middle-class men, who often used their wardrobe to promote themselves, at least in their minds, to a higher class — hence the dandy was born.

The emergence of wool as a primary fabric choice for men’s outer garments led to a revolution in tailoring that allowed fit and finish to be of the utmost importance as opposed to ornamentation. This revolution allowed for an idealized classical silhouette to be materialized in men’s fashion.

Shirts and cravats
Shirts of linen or cotton featured tall standing collars and were worn with wide cravats tied in a soft bow.

Coats and waistcoats
Around 1820, coats began to be made in an entirely new way. The tails and lapels were cut separately and subsequently attached to the coat. This ensured a better fit, a greater following of the body’s contours, and more consistent positioning, even when the coat was unbuttoned. The tails themselves were narrow, pointed, and fell just below the knee. The shoulders were broad and the coat stood of the chest, yet was snug at the waist. Coats also were padded at the chest and waist. The collars and lapels were also padded in order to stiffen them. The collars were high and shawl-like in order to frame the face. Coats were cut straight across the waist. Waistcoats were buttoned high on the chest. Cutaway coats were worn as in the previous period for formal daywear, but the skirts might almost meet at the front waist.

Frock coats had the same nipped-in waist and full skirts. Very fashionable sleeves were gathered or pleated into a slightly puffed “leg of mutton” shape. Coats could be made of wool or velvet, and jewel colors like bottle green and midnight blue were high style. Double-breasted coats were very much in fashion throughout the decade.

Trousers and breeches
Trousers underwent a notable change in the 1820s. The new fit was a product of the French Revolution as it was considered uncouth to wear attire that looked wealthy. The length of the pant changed from below the knee to below the ankle and the fit of the pant loosened slightly from the first decade of the 19th century. The pants featured a small waistline and flared out slightly at the hip with small pleats, creating the image of fullness in the hip region. The introduction of straps that went under the foot, known as stirrup pants, also changed the shape and fit of these trousers.

Full-length light-colored trousers were worn for day; these were cut full through the hips and thighs, tapering to the ankles. They were held smoothly in place by straps fastened under the square-toed shoes. Dark trousers were worn for evening wear, and breeches were worn for formal functions at the British court (as they would be throughout the century). Breeches were also worn for horseback riding and other country pursuits, especially in Britain, with tall fitted boots.

Hats and hairstyles
Tall, silk hats again came into style. They were seen as a comfortable and light way to protect against sun and rain and were adequate for travelling and hunting. The crowns of tall hats also became curvy in keeping with the new style, and began to flare from the headband to the top. Curled hair and sideburns were fashionable.

Rubber was introduced to Europe and America and created a shift in shoes from the pattens and clogs to the galosh. The galosh was soft and gummy in warm weather and hard and stiff in the cold. The style of men’s shoes closely mirrored that of women’s, as they were narrow, heelless slippers with low-cut vamps. They were very flimsy looking, as though they were held on by suction cups, for the leather barely covered the toes and hardly gripped the heel.

Style gallery


2 – 1823

3 – 1823

4 – 1825

5 – 1826

6 – 1827

7 – 1827

8 – 1828

9 – 1828


1.A portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, 1820
2.Country clothes in the city: In this caricature by Richard Dighton, a stout man wears country clothes (breeches and riding boots) at the Royal Exchange in London. Hats of 1823 are not yet curvy, and the straight-bottomed waistcoat shows slightly below the coat in front.
3.French fashion plate shows an evening cape or manteau with a fur collar and shoulder cape, worn over dark formal breeches and double-breasted coat, 1823.
4.Conte Ninni wears a black coat with a tall collar and a slight puff at the sleeve head over a tall-collared white shirt and white cravat, 1825.
5.Francisco de Goya wears a gray coat over a satin single-breasted waistcoat and a tall-collared shirt that reaches to his ears, with a white cravat. Spanish, 1826.
6.Baron Schwiter wears a dark cutaway coat, waistcoat, and narrow fitted pantaloons or trousers. His flat shoes have square toes and bows on the instep, and are worn with white stockings, 1827.
7.Alexander Pushkin wears a black coat, black silk cravat and plaid shawl. Russian, 1827.
8.Goethe wears a coat with a slight puff at the sleeve head, a satin lining turned back to form lapels, and a high contrasting collar over a patterned waistcoat. His white cravat is fastened with a gold pin. German, 1828.
9.In his self-portrait, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller wears a striped cravat and striped waistcoat, both in dull gold and blue, 1828.
10.This man wears a dark coat with a high shawl collar. His sleeves have puffs at the shoulder and taper to the wrist. He wears light brown trousers, 1828.

Fashion in United States






1.George Washington, 1825, Walters Art Museum
2.The second President of the United States, John Adams (nearly 89), 1823
3.The third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, c. 1821, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
4.The fourth President of the United States, James Madison, c. 1821
5.The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe. President James Monroe wears a high shirt collar and white cravat tied in a wide bow. His jacket collar and lapels form a continuous curve very like a shawl collar. 1820–22.

Source from Wikipedia