Victorian Costume
Men's Suit

Dear Carole Parker:

Greetings! I'm wondering if I might consult you on a matter of costuming. I have decided to assemble a Victorian costume, which I intend to wear at Victorian Balls, and also at some of my author appearances, when I give public readings. (I have written a novel set in 1871 England, so a Victorian costume would befit these occasions.)

Questions: Do you recommend a particular tailor or seamstress who could make a pair of men's black wool trousers, and a Victorian-style white formal shirt? Do you have some estimate how much these would cost?

Do you recommend any particular rental establishments? (I plan to rent the hat and tailcoat.)

Do you know where I might purchase a pair of men's gloves? (They needn't be made of kid. Cotton would be perfectly acceptable.)

Any assistance along these lines would be greatly appreciated.


Michael King

Carole Parker
Guild Gentles:

I suggested a tuxedo rental place as one possible source for the tailcoat, hat and gloves. Anyone else know of other sources?

Dawn T. Jacobson
If he's looking for rental, tuxedo rental might be the cheapest in a pinch. If he's looking to invest in Victorian clothes long-term, have him contact Adrian Butterfield at 415/962-0882. Cost for a full set of evening clothes or a gentleman's day suit (Prince Albert, vest, pants, shirt) is $700-$1000 or more, depending on what he wants. She's also quite busy right now, so he may have to wait a bit, but it's definitely worth the wait--Adrian is the only person that dresses my husband, Stephen, and a number of other gentlement involved in historical re-enacting.
Editor Note: Unfortunately, Adrian died in July 2000.

Heather Stern
Michael K. might check places that claim to specialize in wedding affairs, since they seem to offer more variety than other tuxedo-bearing spots. Also, they tend to be more excited than dismayed about providing unusual formal. :)

John Blaker
I would suggest vintage clothing places for gloves. Alter Years has patterns for men's clothing for much of the 19th Century. I think that the Gibson collar company (see the Whole Costumer's Catalog) has neckband formal shirts and disposable collars that would be in period (I think that they may have gloves and spats as well).

Edith K Maverick-Folger
That fellow wanting victorian costume, if he is going to rent the hat and tails, he may just as well rent the whole thing. During the victorian period men often used to wear dickies (the collars were paper), so he shouldn't need a whole shirt, but he will probably be able to get that at the rental place along with gloves. But you probably already told him all this.

If you have any further information to share about this topic, please e-mail Carole Parker for inclusion.

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