Wednesday, April 13, 2011
More About Those 18th c. Men's Shirts: Neck Cloths & Kerchiefs, Stock Buckles & Shirt Brooches
Earlier this week, I wrote here about 18th c. men's linen shirts. But while a good shirt was the mainstay of a man's wardrobe, few men would wear it without an accessory or two to show his own personal style. Much like a modern man choosing his necktie, his 18th c. counterpart took care choosing what went around his neck.
If he were a laborer, working tradesman, sailor, or a sporting gentleman, he'd fold a neck handkerchief in half and loosely tie it under his collar, knotted in front. The neck handkerchief was a square cloth of cotton, linen, or silk, depending on the wearer's means, and it could be brightly colored, woven with checks, or printed with a political cartoon.
If he had more gentlemanly inclinations, a man wore a neck cloth or cravat, a length of (usually) white linen that wrapped around the throat and tied loosely in front. A neck cloth could be worn under or over the shirt collar and band, and trimmings of lace or fringe could make it more distinctive. In most portraits, there's a certain ease to 18th c. neck cloths, a kind of gallant nonchalance in how the ends fall; the perfectly pressed and tied cravats of Beau Brummel are a 19th c. fashion.
uckenbooth brooches, originally lovers' tokens from Edinburg, Scotland, with heart motifs forming the frame of the buckle, right. Shirt buckles could be simple, flat designs, or elaborately styled from silver or gold and embellished with paste or gemstones.
Of course, no matter the time or place or wearer, every fashion has the potential to become extreme - such as the stunningly tall stock worn by George IV, left.
Top left: Lord Cornwallis, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783
Above left: Judge Ebeneezer Devotion by Winthrop Chandler, detail, 1772
Top right: Stock buckle, silver, c. 1750-75, collection of Neal Hurst
Lower right: Shirt buckle, silver, c. 1650-1750
Bottom left: George IV of the United Kingdom, by Sir Thomas Laurence, detail, 1816