Poor people's fashion - 1870 - reproduction of a historical costume

Discussion in 'History of Style : A Remembrance of Things Past' started by IsaacAsmen, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. IsaacAsmen

    IsaacAsmen New Member

    Sep 29, 2020
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    Hello guys, It's my first post here, I know it stands out amongst the other topics but I hope you guys will play along.
    I am a 2BA student at the Royal Academy of Antwerp in the fashion department, and same as every year we must start the year by recreating a historical costume, using authentic techniques, dyes, and research even down to the underwear.
    To contrast with the very pretty and couture aspect a lot of people work on for this assignment ( victorian, baroque dresses, etc ) I wanted to work around " lower classes " and actually identically reproduce the outfit a poor working man would be wearing in the late 19th century.

    So i chose to reproduce this costume ( find image below, guy on the left ) historical costume.jpg

    Its a picture of two working men, dated february 2nd 1870, in " Clonbrock Estate, Galway, Ireland " and is from a series of picture belonging to the family owning said estate, " the Dillon family ".

    I already posted around a bunch of history forums and got my little investigation starting, someone suggested they don't look " super poor " since guy on the right is wearing a hat and a sort of frock coat. They also might have gotten their clothes from used clothes vendor. My questions for you guys today are :

    - What kind of underwear do you think they would have been wearing ? Union suits? Chemise and long johns?
    - What kind of boots the guy on the left is wearing ( they look like a mix between clogs and working boots )
    - What kind of fabrics do you think they would be predominantly wearing ? seems like some sort of corduroy ensemble in left guy's case
    - What kind of vest collar is this called, and would anybody have garment references for similar details in this period ?

    Its pretty specific questions, but in reality, im interested in any thing , even anecdotes that could help me move to the next part of this research.
    I know its not per say, " designer talk " , but I'm sure some fashion enthusiasts will be interested in taking part of this little investigation, as there is very little information on the subject online it will be a lot of guessing and comparing to other documents.
    If you guys are interested, I'll post real time updates of the first toiles, prototypes of garments etc so you can be also a part of the project from its birth to its final realization

    Hoping to get some answers,

  2. YohjiAddict

    YohjiAddict Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2016
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    I think longjohns were probably their undergarments since they are perfect for keeping the body warm. They were made of an unexpensive fabric, like cotton which is washable and breathable, plus widely available. Higher up the social ladder people tended to prefer linen for undergarments.

    The jacket of the man on the left looks like it's made out of boiled wool. Clothes tended to be made of wool or cotton since they are quite durable and dark colors were preferable since they don't show stains as much.

    I agree that both men don't look that poor, for starters their clothes are not that tattered and in this time period poor people practically wore rags, mended time and time again. Hats as you've mentioned weren't common in lower class men and even shoes weren't seen as much, even in winter.
    Benn98 likes this.
  3. velvetandsilk

    velvetandsilk Active Member

    Aug 26, 2020
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    In XIX century poor people had two diffrent set of clothes. During work and on home they wore a very simple clothes, but sometimes they owned clothes for special occasion or when they went to city/ wealthy people.
    Maybe this book will be helpful:
    Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England Vivienne Richmond

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