If you’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to identifying family members in old photos from the Victorian era, you’re not alone.
Even the most seasoned family historian will run into this headscratcher from time to time as Victorian fashions throughout the time period can look very similar to the untrained eye. Every fashionable gentleman could be seen wearing narrowly tailored sack suits during the 1870s.
Keep in mind that the descriptions are generalities and you could end up coming across exceptions to these clothing clues during your research. Waistcoats during this decade came without collars. Very slim cravats with tiny bow ties were also popular. Lounge suits offered slim silhouettes and jackets were worn partially undone, showing off a more relaxed style and revealing high-buttoned waistcoats and watch chains. Norfolk jackets were introduced during this time period and sack coats were still worn over evening attire. Norfolk jackets (look for box pleats over the chest and matching fabric belts).
In the Victorian era, men’s daily dress was more formal than it is today. Men also wore their collars highly-starched with neckties and elaborate cravats during the earlier part of the century, and by the late 1860s, string-style cravats that were more narrow emerged. What to look for: Lighter-colored trousers and black coats. Lounge suits continued to trend well into the 1890s with trousers sporting creases down the front. Cuffed trousers were also fashionable during the early 1900s.
We received a Christmas card from the Llewellyn-Bowen family this week, Laurence, his wife and two daughters dressed up in a 1920s jazz style.