Men wore various styles of coats that tended to have long, narrow sleeves, fitted high under the arm. They nearly always wore a tie and vest for photographs, and often a hat as well. Ties were generally of modest width and tied in a small horizontal bow. Most men were clean-shaven, though some had a fringe of beard that went down from the sideburns and under the chin. Mustaches were occasionally worn by younger men, thick with downward turning ends.
Men in the early 1850's wore fashions similar to the late 40's, but after 1854 wider, looser fashions were introduced. Vests tended to be double breasted, often with notched collars. Most noticeable on photographs are the neckties peculiar to the 1850 - 1857 period, a stiff, horizontally tied, two inches wide silk black or checked cloth that extends out on one side, giving an asymmetric appearance. Men tended to be clean shaved in the early part of this decade, but toward the end beards became more popular. Young men and boys often wore their hair in a distinctive high wave at the center of the forehead. Side hair got longer toward the end of the decade, covering the ears after 1857.
Women, even those of modest means, used their skills to keep fashionable, even if only by altering older garments. In the early part of the decade skirts continued to be very full all around, but after 1864 they became narrower and flat across the front, while behind they extended out even further. On plain-colored dresses braided or stamped borders imitating braid were often used around the bottom edge. Dresses tended to be very short- waisted, increasingly so as the decade wore on. The bodice shoulders were long and sloping, with a low, almost horizontal armscye at armpit level. Bodices fastened down the front, usually with buttons, and generally had two darts on either side of the front. Small collars were again in fashion, and many dress styles were tight to the base of the neck. Sleeves were wide and billowing in bell shaped flares, or more modestly flaring bishops sleeves. Belts, often very wide with a large buckle, were quite common. Neck ribbons were no longer popular, and when worn at all tended to be very narrow. Hair styles mostly involved a central part and hair drawn back tight behind the ears, though some still wore styles that covered the ears -- but not looped out in the 50's style. Hair nets came into fashion, though after 1863 they tended to be the "invisible" style.
Men who were not in military uniforms tended to continue in the 50's styles for the early part of the decade. By mid-decade the coat styles tended to be shorter and more closely fitted, with narrower sleeves. Vests were usually collared with narrow lapels. The stiff, upright, shirt collars were only worn for dressier occasions, while day to day shirts had collars that folded down. Ties became narrower, with the ends hanging down from the knot. Beards were popular, and the hair generally parted at the side and drawn smoothly back away from the face.
Women's wear of 1870 to 1876 period featured a bustle at the back of the skirt, with the sides drawn in and back, presenting a narrower profile when viewed from the front. Corsets were short at the beginning of the decade, lengthened again towards the end. The waistline was very high in the early years of the decade, but after 1874 waistlines began to lengthen. At that point two piece dresses became the fashion, with a long jacket bodice and separate skirt. Some of these jacket style bodices were fastened down the front, while others were worn open, with a long vest beneath them. These various pieces might be of different materials, but were generally dark in color. There was much use of pleating and ruffled flounces. Earrings were long and dangling early in the decade, but after 1873 a simpler, shorter, single drop became fashionable, as hair was drawn close at the sides of the head. Towards the end of the decade simple button-type earrings were popular, along with higher hair styles. Black velvet neck ribbons, 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide, were worn tied at back with a bow, with a brooch at the front.
Men's jackets became closer fitting and narrower, though for casual wear the extremely loose styles are still seen. Shirts begin to appear in more varied colors and patterns. The seventies necktie was wide and tied in a loose knot with square ends, but conservative and older gentlemen often wore the narrower style of the previous decade. Beards seem to have gradually lost favor over the decade.
Men in the 1880's ceased to wear the long loose "sack" coats in favor of short, more narrowly fitted styles. Lapels were very narrow, with the coat designed to close high at the throat, almost covering the tie. Sleeves were narrow. Shirts were mostly white, with two types of collars, the stiff standing collar, or a folding style. Beards were not uncommon, but mustaches were much more popular, especially after mid-decade.
Men in the 1890's were wearing narrower, shorter coats, with sleeves so short that the shirt cuff was often exposed. These tightly fitted coats were worn buttoned all the way up the front. Black was the predominant color for coats and pants, and white shirts prevailed for fancy dress, though there was more variation in the color of work clothes. Collars were short and stiff, with small points. The hanging tie became popular, though bow ties were also still used.
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