Monday, February 22, 2010

Aether Salon: Haberdashery!

The 15th Aether Salon featured Lord Primbroke, Mr. Edward Pearse, on the subject of Haberdashery. The Duke has been crafting fine men's fashions in the Steamlands for a number of years, and has wide-ranging knowledge of Victorian- and Edwardian-era fashions.

Miss Serafina Puchkina led off by introducing the Salon, even as she manned the sweets table:

Miss Viv Trafalgar and Miss Jed Dagger discussed upcoming events and introduced the day's speaker, Mr. Pearse.

Mr. Pearse briefly noted that Napoleonic fashions were skin tight, while later garments, though still closedly tailored, were less constricting. He touched on the fashion for black, particularly after Queen Victoria went into mourning, and then discussed changes in styles over the decades. While the basic combination of shirt, waistcoat, topcoat, and trousers remained unchanged, the specifics did: knee breeches and hose gave way to white tie with tails, which ultimately gave way to the tuxedo.

Interestingly, parts of garments took quite a long time to disappear once they became entrenched as part of the wardrobe: spats, for example, to protect against mud spatter, or jacket sleeve buttons, which remained long after jackets no longer buttoned at the sleeve.

Although the principal male "uniform" left little room for self-expression, Mr. Pearse (pictured below) noted that men used accessories, such as tie pins and cufflinks, to show some originality. In addition, he noted that the choice of fabric could provide a subtle signal of wealth; for example, velvet collars wore more quickly than satin, and hence were a display of wealth.

Mr. Pearse made use of several props to illustrate his points.

And what discussion of men's fashions would be complete without mentioning facial hair? Mr. Pearse observed that the style for facial hair became thicker during the Crimean War, but that facial hair of various types remained in style well into the 20th century. The chart below shows different facial hair types; one could discuss with one's barber the desired look.

Dame Ordinal Malaprop paid a visit; it was good to see her back in the Steamlands. The Salon also had a bit of excitement when the Babbage Palisades sim crashed - taking the speaker with it! Order was soon restored, and the Salon continued with no more than a brief pause.

Another success for the Salon!

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