Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Remember When . . . Men's Fashion Got Diverse?

My totally awesome fashion book sadly doesn't have much on men for the 1860s, so I've been trolling the internet while writing Circle of Spies. And you know what I've found? That the variety of fashions for men in 1865 gives me some awesome freedom. =)

My first choice was in figuring out what kind of hat my hero wears. I know this seems small, but his opening scene is him getting off the train and waiting for the villain to arrive, and he's all brooding and silent and stuff, and I didn't to visualize him just so. So what hat did he wear? Top hat? Bowler? Straw boater thingy? Just look at these choices!

I decided that Slade Osborne wears a bowler. I at first had him in a top hat, but...nope. Just can't do it. He's a bowler man, for sure and certain.

Men's coats came in a variety of lengths and styles too, with differing collar widths. Sometimes gents would only button the top button of their coat, so as to show off their waistcoat (vest). Cravats had some variation too. Notice in the picture below the man is wearing trousers, shirt, vest, frock coat, and over coat. The outermost coat would come off inside, leaving frock coat on.

Slade wears a knee-length frock coat, quite fashionable, but only because someone else commissioned his clothes for him. I kind of wonder what he would have chosen for himself... ;-)

Then, goodness, I had to decide on facial hair! I've never really had many heroines with facial hair at all (except for Xerxes, who had a full beard because, well, he did, LOL. Historically, that is. But for Slade, the image of Collin Ferrell I'd based him on featured a goatee. So in my mind, that's what he had. In trying to ascertain if this was time-accurate, I looked up the word--check. Fine for the time. But did that mean it was popular? Well, what I love about 1865 is that there are pictures everywhere! I just opened one of my books on Baltimore during the Civil War, found a photo of a huge group of men, and studied their moustaches and beards, LOL. And, yep, I found several goatees! 
Not that this is precisely a goatee, but I'm looking online now instead of in my book, LOL
 So there we have it. Slade Osborne wears a bowler, a knee-length frock coat, carries a pocket watch, has a goatee. But my favorite part about him is his demeanor. Where Bennet in Ring of Secrets is a social bumbler who far prefers his chemistry laboratory...where Thad in Whispers from the Shadows is amiable, personable, and adventurous, with a keen intuition about what people most need...well, Slade is brooding, silent, and has learned firsthand the price of betrayal. But oh, the things he can say with his mouth firmly shut! Yep, he's a fun one. =)

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