Clothes Make the Man

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M973.49.11.1-3 II-100033 M963.4.1.1-3 M978.32 II-109450 M987.48.1 M18267 M980.37.2 MP-1978.82.151
F. J. Francis and friend, Montreal, QC, 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
21 x 16 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

In the atmosphere of repressed masculine interest in fashion that dominated the 19th century, men turned to luxurious and colourful accessories for self-expression. Though men were generally apprehensive about appearing preoccupied with fashion, they were able to enjoy the pleasures of fashion by varying their waistcoats, ties, scarves, gloves and jewellery without being thought vain, frivolous or ridiculous.

Even so, men exercised caution in their choice of accessories. Too much colour or decoration left men open to accusations of foppery, bad taste or effeminacy. Elaborate waistcoats, for example, introduced a note of colour into otherwise sombre wardrobes. In a sea of black frock coats, accessories individualized men without attracting undue attention.

  • What

    Mr. F. J. Francis and his friend are dressed in the height of fashion for 1895, having paid particular attention to their glossy top hats, pristine collars and carefully tied neckties.

  • Where

    This photo was taken in the Montreal studio of William Notman and Son.

  • When

    This photo of Mr. F. J. Francis and his friend was taken in 1895. The trousers of the man on the left have creases deliberately pressed into them, still a novelty at the time.

  • Who

    Mr. Francis and his friend, posing indoors, have chosen to be photographed in their outdoor clothing, complete with top hats and elegant overcoats.