Monday, March 26, 2012

Men in poufy trousers

Monday, March 26, 2012
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Loretta reports:

Susan recently shared with me this image, whose description at the Met Museum site had me scratching my head.  I knew I’d seen this wasp-waist-&-full trousers-look earlier than the 1830s.  In fact, I had in mind an 1816 caricature—by Cruikshank, I think—of a dandy dressing.  His valet is helping him tighten his stays, and he’s wearing the full trousers.  Unable to put my hands on that caricature, I offer a group of 1818 fashion victims, with directions to the full-trouser wearers.

The Cruikshanks love making fun of this style, as in this excerpt from a poem in The Universal Songster, 1825:
Some folks, in the street, by the Lord, make me stare,
So comical droll is the dress that they wear;
For the gentlemen's waist is a top of their back,
And their large cossack trousers that fit like a sack.

Later, comparing to women's shortened skirts and huge hats, the poem continues:
But, on the contrary, our very smart beaux,
Wear large cossack trousers quite down to their toes;
And a little brimmed hat, that wo’n’t cover their face,
Oh! Lunnun, this Lunnun’s a wonderful place!

Clearly it wasn’t the fashion, but a style that persisted alongside sleeker looks, according to the author of The whole art of dress,1830

But still the fashions, as may be remarked, are various, tight-kneed and full being worn almost indiscriminately. . .Nothing can more improve the look and fit of trousers than double straps; these, with very full cossack trowsers, are more indispensably requisite when the legs are particularly crooked or ill-formed.
The look never seems to die.  Decades ago I wore men’s vintage pleated wool trousers (with cuffs).  Susan thought the look was right for DeBarge.  I thought of M.C. Hammer.
Note straps

Photo info:
Date: ca. 1833; Culture: British; Medium: silk; Dimensions: Length at CB: 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm); Credit Line: Catharine Breyer Van Bomel Foundation Fund, 1981'; Accession Number: 1981.210.4;
Cruikshank caricature courtesy  Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

B&W illustration comes from a German collection whose record I've lost.


Joanna Waugh said...

How odd that they wore the straps over the shoe. No doubt it put a lot of wear and tear on the garment. "Stretch pants" were popular with girls when I was a teenager but we wore the strap over our foot, inside the shoe.

Romance Author Donna Hatch said...

I much prefer the tighter fitting breeches to those baggy pants. I probably would have snickered if I saw them in that day and age...although today's "fashion" of boys wearing huge, baggy pants hanging down to their knees is much worse!!

Delle Jacobs said...

I think I might have that Cruikshank caricature. I'll look. I think I got it from Isobel Carr.

QNPoohBear said...

Those pants are much much more attractive than the Hammer pants of my pre-teen years! I also agree that Cossack trousers are better than the baggy jeans showing the undergarments that young men wear now.

Horse riding breeches said...

They are also known as Jodhpur pants or royal riding pants (baggy - tight, horse riding trousers).

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