Work shirts with tiny collars and buttons or ties were worn by men. Waistcoats or vests, while not as attractive, might also be worn over these labor shirts. They wore functional pants made of tough textiles such as cotton or moleskin, as well as leather work boots. Women wore dresses or skirts and shawls. Hair was usually kept short.
Gentlemen went about dressed in suits and waistcoats. The suit consisted of a jacket and trousers; the jacket was cut quite close to the body with tails hanging down back behind the wearer. Pants took the place of jackets for working-class men, but even they would occasionally wear their suits. The jacket was generally made of wool or tweed and had sleeves that came to the elbow. It may have had a lining or padding inside the coat to make it more comfortable to wear.
The hat worn by gentlemen in England at this time was known as an "overcoat" because it covered everything beyond the neck and shoulders. It was usually black or dark brown with a flat top and a stiff brim. A white shirt and a blue tie completed the outfit.
Dress codes for businesses and schools began to appear around this time. Men should wear coats and hats when entering churches as well as during school days. Students in schools would be punished if they were not properly dressed.
Men often dressed in long shirts and breeches. Leggings (typically made of leather) were added throughout the winter. Silver buckles, lace cuffs, or ruffles might be worn by wealthier men. Powdered white wigs were also popular. Men kept their hair short or shaved on the back and sides of their heads.
In the South, planters tended to dress more formally than farmers. Black suits with white linen or cotton shirts were common day-to-day attire for Southerners. Shoes were usually black with some form of a heel (a flat shoe was considered poor etiquette). A white pocket handkerchief was also appropriate for use during dinner parties or when playing cards.
In the West, men tended to wear clothes that would not get dirty easily. White shirts with blue stripes or checks were popular among farmers. Businessmen wore suits made of wool or cotton. Fancy clothing was also popular among miners. Gold was valuable, so people wanted to show it off!
In Indian country, men usually wore breechcloths over their trousers. They might also wear a shirt under their coat for warmth. Women wore deerskins or cloth dresses when they went out in public.
Inside homes, everyone wore clothes appropriate for the time of year. In the summer, men might open windows if it was hot outside.
Men wore hip-length undershirts made of wool or linen with long sleeves and, most likely, loincloths. A belt laced between loops held up woollen pants. A garment had been pulled over his head and down to his legs. It was generally long-sleeved and adorned at the wrists, neck, and hem. Over this he put on a tunic, which was similar to the robe in that it wrapped around the body and came to a point at the waist. The anglo-Saxon tunic was usually blue, red, white, or green and made of wool. It could be short or long depending on the wearer's status or position.
Anglo-Saxons also wore hats made of wood, skin, or bone. They were always worn by men. Women didn't wear them.
The English word "hat" comes from the Norse hatt, which in turn comes from the Germanic term for headgear: hata. The Anglo-Saxons wore their hats not only to keep off the rain but also as a mark of distinction. The higher you stood in society, the more elaborate the hat was. Kings even had servants dress their hair in the king's beard if they weren't able to grow their own hair long enough to braid or tie back with a ribbon.
After the Norman invasion in 1066, men began wearing clothing that was more appropriate for the climate, so hats became less necessary.
This was the most diverse section of a Victorian man's clothing. Finally, a belt or tie at the back of the waistcoat would keep it tight around the man's midsection, emphasizing his figure much like stays and corsets did for women at the period.
The choice of material for these articles was very wide-wooden belts were sold in shops along with other household goods, while leather ones could be bought at city markets. The latter were often decorated with gold or silver coins or with pieces of bone or horn. Some were even engraved with the initials of their owners.
Belt boxes were also on sale in town centers and they usually contained from one to three sizes of metal rings which were used to stretch the belt when it needed to be adjusted.
In fact, a man of the era without a belt was considered poor taste!
Nowadays, we can see many photos of Victorian-era gentlemen wearing them so this must have been the norm until recently when belts became popular again.
However, there is some evidence suggesting that men didn't always wear belts. A book published in 1615 called "The English Housewife" claims that men should only wear belts if they are very rich because they make your pants look fat.
Polo shirts, dress shirts, and sweaters were the tops of choice for males. As the thirties approached, feminine blouses with v-necks and long bow ties tied around the neck, sleeveless blouses, and knit shirts of satin and linen became fashionable. Ties and suspenders were widely used by men to hold up their pants.
In the fifties, white shirts were still popular but colored shirts, especially blue, became more common. Dark suits or gray suits were usually chosen by men while women preferred dresses, skirts, and jackets.
In the sixties, polos and plaids were popular among men while women wore miniskirts and bare feet. In the seventies, everyone wore jeans and in the eighties, people started wearing business suits again.