The author has graciously shared with readers of the Victorian Web this passage from the second edition of her Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000 (2000), published by A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd., which retains copyright. Readers wishing to obtain the book can e-mail the following address:

The shirt changed very little. The frilling for evening finally disappeared completely by the 1860s, the fronts being plain, stiffly starched and fastened with decorative studs. Collars, separate from the shirt, and cuffs were highly starched; cuffs showed an inch or so beyond the coat sleeve and for formal occasions were double, fastened with cufflinks. Collars were lower between the late 1850s and 1880, single and straight or winged on formal occasions, double — i.e. turned over — for informal. By the 1890s collars about 21-3 inches high were again in fashion, and many elderly men continued to wear the high collars with points projecting on to the cheeks which had been fashionable in their youth.

During the 1850s and early 1860s coloured shirts might be worn by working-class men, but gentlemen usually wore white. French printed cambrics in various coloured patterns were introduced for informal wear during the 1860s, and by the 1890s neat stripes in blue or pink were accepted as 'perfectly good form' even with frock coats, provided that the collar was white. Artistic, intellectual and unconventional gentlemen might wear shirts of solid colour; William Morris had one dyed indigo blue for him in his own workshops. The dickey (or dicky), a shirt-front with an attached collar of starched linen worn over a flannel shirt, was available throughout the period, though never worn by a gentleman; it was often a source of humour or ridicule.

The stock continued to be worn for sporting occasions, particularly for hunting. The cravat or necktie, now cut narrower in the centre where it went around the neck, then widening out, was tied in various ways. In the sailor's reef knot, from around 1870, the central knot had vertical borders at the sides with the ends flowing loosely; though very popular during the 1890s, it was rivalled by the four-in-hand (also known as a Derby) in which the knot presented a free edge above and below; this was worn informally under the turn-down shirt collar and was also adopted by women to wear with masculine-styled blouses. Also worn by both men and women in the 1890s was the Oxford tie, a narrow straight necktie of uniform width. The octagon, from the 1860s, and the Ascot, from 1876, were scarf-like: the former was a made-up tie with the front arranged with four tabs above a tie pin, fastening at the back with a hook and eyelet hole; the latter, though similar in appearance, was usually self-tied, and might be puffed out at the centre front and called a puffed Ascot. A broad necktie tied in a bow was worn during the 1850s and a small neat bow was particularly favoured during the 1890s, either tied by hand or ready-made; and the small white cambric bow tie was to become more or less obligatory for formal evening wear, although black might be seen until the end of the century.


Nunn, Joan. Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000. 2nd edition. A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd; Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, 2000.

Last modified 11 June 2001