Gentleman’s Half Dress, January 1803

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Paris, January 25, 1803.

“Costume Demi-Habillé”

This pink-cheeked French dandy exhibits the height of male fashion for 1803. Even his hair, combed forward in a sort of disheveled Brutus, is exactly what you see in paintings and prints of young men at this time.

The print title names this as half dress, or what we might call semi-formal, which would be appropriate for the opera or informal parties, though it looks to me like it would do for evening full dress. The black suit, stockings, hat, and shoes give it a more formal look.

The coat is single-breasted, with a high, narrow collar and full exaggerated cuffs. His white shirt is boldly ruffled, with its collar held high on his cheeks by a neckcloth tied asymmetrically to one side. He wears two waistcoats, a gray or taupe one underneath, and a white one on top. Both are cut short at the waist. His breeches are tied with ribbons below the knee, rather than buckled. His hand appears to be in a true pocket, and not simply the opening of the drop-front.

The shoes, on impossibly small feet, have silver buckles, which were most often worn with full dress. Another hint of full dress is the chapeau bras, the hat carried under his arm. The collapsible bicorn hat was meant to be carried and not worn.

Perhaps in France, full dress for men (usually called Grande Parure for women) was more equivalent to court dress.



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