Sexy 1790s Fashions

Dunlap vol 1, p 195: West, known as the leather breeches beau (dandy was then unknown), was imported as the singer and "walking gentleman" of the company.

p 196" Those who now see actors moving in society like other men, at least in appearance, dressed as others dress, having the same fashions, manners and behaviour, as their fellow-citizens, and not to be distinguished from them by the outside, can hardly conceive the difference which then existed between these recruits to the American company and the townsfolk in all these particulars. Long after others wore their hair short and of nature's color, Hodgkinson had powdered curls at each side, and long braided hair twisted into a club or knot behind; instead of pantaloons and boots, breeches and stockings and shoes. This costume, with his hat on one side, and an air and manner then known by the appellation of theatrical, marked him among thousands. King displayed his fine person in another, but equally marked manner. West usually appeared in boots and leather breeches, always new, and three gold-laced button-holes on each side of the high upright collar of a scarlet coat; while Robins, a very and large-framed young man, in addition to the gold-laced collar, wore three gold hatbands. West soon involved himself in debt, and being arrested by the breeches-maker for six pairs of leather breeches, sent to Mr. Gaine, who still printed the play-bills, though no longer at the Bible and Crown, but only at the Bible, to request bail, as the prisoner's name was in the bill for that night. The old gentleman took off his spectacles and exclaimed, "Six pair of leather breeches! Why I never had one pair in my life! Six pair! Why how many legs has the fellow got?"

 

from Griswold's The Republican Court p 408: [Robert Edge] Pine brought to this country a plaster cast of the Venus de Medici, but kept it privately, as the manners of the time would not permit the exhibition of such a figure: a fact which may seem strange to those who remember that some of the celebrated women of this period exposed their own finely-developed persons in a manner to shock even young Frenchmen, fresh from the gayest society of Paris; but it was then the fashion, in London as well as in New York and Philadelphia, to imitate the costume of pictures painted in the most dissolute period of English morals.

by Bob Arnebeck

Go to Introduction: Swamp1800