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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Real Men Wear Calico ~ 1860’s/70’s Men Fashions

I never have to be reminded just how lucky I am to have a husband who not only supports my historic costuming but will also dress up and allow himself to be photographed. Not to mention being blasted across the internet while wearing such ensembles.

With each era Mr. Decor always finds a certain look that he prefers. For the “Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder Costume Challenge” he thought this guy was ok.

(Um yeah, if you LIKE that certain Robert Redford look… and I do. :)

+~+~ Antique Photograph ~+~+  Handsome and suave.  ca. 1860:

As a rule a gentleman in the 1860’s/70’s would wear high waisted flat front trousers. They might be a solid color or feature pinstripes. A vest, with or without lapels, was generally worn and often accented with a pocket watch.

No idea when it may have been taken but by the fashion possibly 1860's thru 1880's. Reminds me of Gone with the Wind.:

Shirts could feature band collars which did not require a tie or cravat.

Occupation. Daguerreotype of four shoemakers.:

There were also a wide variety of collars to support the large range of neckwear.

Occupation. Three shop workers wearing aprons.:

Mr. Décor settled on the high collar cravat wearing option.

Finely dressed couple. Gent in frock coat, vest with watch chain, trousers, shirt and cravat. Lady in floral print with high body, demi open sleeves, pleated skirt.:

To make his vest and cravat I selected the McCalls M7300 pattern.

We then discussed options for the exterior fabric of the vest as well as the fabric for the lining of the vest and the cravat. It was Mr. Decor who suggested using the same Andover Little House on the Prairie fabric A-7951-B “Prairie Flowers” to match my dress.

blue floral

But did men wear calico?  Indeed they did. The third photo down at the top of this post shows a man wearing a floral calico shirt. This is also an actual shirt from the era.

Men's calico shirt, 1850-60:

It stands to reason that women were probably doing most of the sewing for the menfolk. Most pioneers had a limited range of fabrics to choose from.

Occupation. Tintype portrait of two butchers wielding knives. ca.1860-1880.  via Cowan’s Auctions:

Just one bolt of fabric was often purchased and the entire family was then outfitted in the same calico print.

Boy’s outfit, pink and red calico shirt attached to plaid tan blue and gray patterned pants, hand-sewn, cotton and wooden buttons, circa 1840.:

For this reason no one would have called this guy a “namby-pamby” or “sissie”. Of course that may be because of his large Bowie knife.

Confederate Soldier Bowie knife, Calico Shirt:

I would recommend the vest pattern for a mid to experienced seamstress. I personally am a visual learner who is also very literal. So when step #10 showed a seam that ended in a perfect point I assumed that this is what my vest should look like at this stage.

Becoming Laura 005

So when my seam looked like this I panicked.

This is why sewing makes me crazy half of the time!

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 004

It resulted in me ripping out the seam, matching my fabric pieces against the original pattern pieces thinking I had cut the fabric incorrectly. I hadn’t. #timewaster

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 003

Stay the course. In the end the pieces will line up correctly when you join the interior lining with the exterior fabric.

I should perhaps mention that the exterior fabric was a vintage mid weight red/navy cotton tweed that I found at a recent estate sale for $1.00.

Becoming Laura 006

Extra touches: I added a wee pocket to the front of the vest to hold the pocket watch. Personally I would have preferred a hidden pocket but I didn’t think of this until the lining had already been attached to the exterior and I refused to rip out any more seams.

The patterned brass buttons are also appropriate for this era.

Becoming Laura 008

The cravat pattern is perfect for the new or inexperienced sewer. It went together quite easily in about 30 minutes.

Handwoven hat purchased in Panama many years ago. Heirloom pocket watch from grandfather Albert Wescott.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 056

Eric CHARLES Gunn transforms into Charles “PA” Ingalls quite handsomely. 

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 058

As it is still quite warm where we live the straw hat is an era appropriate choice as well.

A New England Man Wearing a Smock | Flickr - Photo Sharing!:

Straw hats of this era varied in their brim and crown sizing.

Man in a straw hat and vest, sixth plate daguerreotype from sometime around 1850 (via Dennis A. Waters Fine Daguerreotypes):

Truth be told my husband is a huge hambone. He adores honking cars and loves to interact with questioning people passing by. Particularly if they are out walking dachshunds.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 342 He actually came up with several of our poses during the photo shoot. Here is his imitation of a shifty, albeit well dressed, cattle rustler.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 063

By all means leave a comment and tell him just how amazing he is. He will read and revel in every single one.

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder 122

For those keeping financial score the pattern was purchased at a 99 cent sale. Andover Fabric graciously provided the calico bringing the total for this costume to just $2.00.

Real men DO wear calico!



Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

FABULOUS! It'/ all coming together spectacularly!

Great job, Laura Ingalls Gunn!


Christine said...

You two are a good pair.

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life said...

Oh my word, I love it. He cracks me up. Such a trooper. You two are amazing.

Jeanie said...

I cannot tell you how much I adore Mr. Decor -- cute as a bug and looks just fabulous in his ensemble. The two of you together will be four-star and I can't wait to see the end result.

I so admire your stitching. My version of hemming has much to do with double stick tape and when I once made a little simple shift the hem looked like the rocky mountain skyline! Your work is terrific and your dedication to getting it just right is what makes it so.

Loving the vintage photos, your research and this whole series of posts!

The Victorian Girl said...

He looks great! My husband and I attended Dickens on the Strand in Galveston several years ago, and if you dressed Victorian style you got in free. So I convinced my husband he had to dress up too. He wore trousers, an argyle sleeveless sweater vest, long sleeved dress shirt and a wool cap. And he didn't mind a bit! And he looked pretty darn cute too!

I'm so enjoying the costume series you're doing. I love historic clothing, especially the latter 1800's. I guess I missed out on why you're creating these, but it must be a special event. I'll keep going back in the archives to find out more.

Cecilia Bramhall said...

Loving your costume series. Your husband cracks me up. He plays his role so well. 😀

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Mr. Adore is quite thedashing handsome fellow, is he not?

I guess I should share that for years my husband and I have been making and wearing late 1400s Italian Renaissance garb. My husband teaches that era fencing, and he makes all his own clothes and is quite dashing (and a hambone) like Mr. Adore, as well. So I get it! Gotta love a well-dressed gent!

: - )

Bloggymom said...

Very handsome outfit!! Your husband looks nice in red. Amazing costumes!! said...

ha, what fun!

Bonnie said...

Laura, Such an interesting post. You are amazing! Your design skills and sewing talent is over the top.

P. A. Garbutt said...

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed your "Becoming Laura" posts. I've looked forward to each step of the process. Such a great story and such wonderful sewing skills. You and your handsome hubby look perfectly at ease at the Dance. Thx. for the fun.