Distinguished from other eras by top hats, canes, three piece suits, side-burns and a high level of class were the dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era. To be dapper meant to be neat and trim in appearance and dress and having a true sense of elegance and grace in the manner in which one carried themselves. The Victorian Era which historians say happened between 1837 and 1901, was a time when Queen Victoria I reigned. There was a high level of opulence for the wealthy and for the poor, a life of hard work or early death. The disparity also continued within the genders during the Victorian era, despite being reigned over by Queen Victoria; a woman. The era was extremely misogynistic and women were expected to behave and act a certain way, while men possessed the freedom to behave in any manner that suited them.
The Victorian era was also a time of great increase in population within England and the English people enjoyed a long period of prosperity that was gained from overseas ventures as well as improvements in the industrial industry. This increase in wealth allowed the educated middle class to develop and flourish and significantly impacted the fashion that men wore at home, to work and to social gatherings. The advent of photography which was first showcased at the Great Exhibition had a great impact on Victorian art, culture and fashion as well.
The increase in sewing machine sales meant that clothes were now being made by tailors and seamstresses and less homemade clothes were being fashioned. These ready-to-wear suits and garments were also easily accessible from catalog companies and store fronts in the city. The affordable prices enabled most men the luxury to be fitted in fine attire whether rich or poor and greatly influenced a sense of style and sensibilities ingrained within the dapper gentleman.
The prolific top hat was a key staple of the dapper gentleman. From head to toe one’s attire needed to be fashionable, clean and well put together. Ties or cravats embellished the necks of men during the Victorian era; cravats were often tied in a bow tie style which was very popular among men during the 1860’s. Clean clothes were just the beginning of the dapper transformation, having your shirt starched and pressed was integral as well. For the classic dapper look, most men went with a dark toned pair of trousers and those looking to stand out opted for stripes or plaid. Adding a waist coat to the ensemble tied the outfit together and most fashionable gentleman choose to use this piece of clothing as their statement piece. Boots were the shoes of choice in the Victorian era, usually high ones that were laced up. To complete the look, a coat had to be worn and it was usually mid-thigh in length with a rich, dark tone.
Facial hair was another key component of the dapper during the Victorian Era. Men would wear side- burns, full beards, mustaches, mutton chops and flap wings to name a few. The dapper men in the Victorian era used their facial hair and fashion sense to show society their manliness. The full outfit accompanied by awesome facial hair was the epitome of the dapper gentleman during the Victorian era.