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The Cut of His Coat

Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain, 1860-1914

Brent Shannon

Publication Year: 2006

The English middle class in the late nineteenth century enjoyed an increase in the availability and variety of material goods. With that, the visual markers of class membership and manly behaviorunderwent a radical change. In The Cut of His Coat: Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain, 1860 –1914, Brent Shannon examines familiarnovels by authors such as George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hughes, and H. G. Wells, as well as previously unexamined etiquette manuals, periodadvertisements, and fashion monthlies, to trace how new ideologies emerged as mass-produced clothes, sartorial markers, and consumer culture began tochange.While Victorian literature traditionally portrayed women as having sole control of class representations through dress and manners, Shannon argues that middle-class men participated vigorously in fashion. Public displays of their newly acquired mannerisms, hairstyles, clothing, and consumer goods redefined masculinity and class status for the Victorian era and beyond.The Cut of His Coat probes the Victorian disavowal of men’s interest in fashion and shopping to recover men’s significant role in the representation of class through self-presentation and consumer practices.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I’d like to thank my former colleagues at the University of Kentucky—Virginia Blum, Susan Bordo, Joseph Gardner of the English department, and Ellen Furlough and Philip Harling of the history department—for their invaluable suggestions, questions, and advice. Lisa Collins of the University of Kentucky for supporting my research...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

In May 1904, the London men’s monthly Fashion reprinted in full a letter written to the Irish Independent by a frustrated tailor and closet reader of popular fiction. “I wonder what it is that the writers of fiction pay so little attention to the costuming of their male characters,” the letter began; “Of course...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 21-51

The “Disappearance” of Men’s Fashion and Consumption in Victorian BritainOf course it will be thought that there cannot be much to say about men’s toilets,since they are supposed never to think about dress, nor talk about it, and rarely toThe man who consciously pays no heed to fashion accepts its form just as much asthe dude does, only he embodies it in another category, the former in that of exag-...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 52-90

In 1890, the tailoring trade journal Gentleman’s Magazine of Fashion positioned reporter T. H. Holding on St. James’s Street to take an informal eyewitness survey of what London’s men were wearing. Holding reports disappointedly on the sartorial uniformity of Clubland. “There is a remarkable sameness at all times, and perhaps in all centres, between the dress of one of these...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 91-127

In March 1898, a magazine premiered in London, hailing itself as the first popular periodical on men’s fashion (fig. 3.1). The new monthly was simply but appropriately titled Fashion, and its lively, breezy copy kept its readers abreast of the latest cuts and styles in men’s garments, along with regular features on military dress and men’s costume in current theatrical productions. In...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 128-160

The old saying to the contrary withstanding, external appearances do not alwaysafford the least satisfactory evidences of a man’s character. As for the “cad.” You havehim in an instant. He betrays himself offhand. He tries to affect the gentleman, butin externals only. You have him on the hip directly he opens his mouth.The gent possessed three important attributes: flamboyant and self-conscious dress,...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 161-190

Had you strolled along a London street—perhaps one of the fashionable rows of the West End or one of the bustling corridors of the City district—during the waning decades of the nineteenth century, you would have borne witness to a striking transformation of the male costume that had characterized the earlier Victorian era. Disappearing were the traditional long frock...

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Epilogue

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pp. 191-198

In 2003, the “metrosexual,” a straight urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of his time and money on personal appearance and lifestyle, burst onto the pop culture landscape. Seemingly overnight, the metrosexual became a popular buzzword and amassed widespread attention through national magazine cover stories, Michael Flocker’s trendy best...

Notes

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pp. 199-222

Bibliography

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pp. 223-244

Index

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pp. 245-252


E-ISBN-13: 9780821442289
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821417034

Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Consumption (Economics) -- England -- History.
  • Men's clothing -- England -- History.
  • Social classes -- England -- History.
  • Masculinity -- England -- History.
  • Male consumers -- Great Britain -- History.
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