Fashion in the period 1795–1820 in European and European-influenced countries saw the final triumph of undress or informal styles over the brocades, lace, periwig, and powder of the earlier 18th century. In Britain, Beau Brummell introduced trousers, perfect tailoring, and unadorned, immaculate linen as the ideals of men's fashion.
The style that dandies invented […] led in two divergent directions. It led to conventional men's wear, and thus to 'anti-fashion'. It also led in the direction of oppositional style. Anti-fashion is that 'true chic' which used to be defined as the elegance that never draws attention to itself, the simplicity that is 'understated', but which for that very reason stands out so startlingly.
Men's clothes became quite outlandish: frilly shirts, jackets with pinched-in waists and padded shoulders were worn with showy waistcoats. The trousers became tight breeches that fitted into riding boots. High collars were worn with scarves, and top hats and canes were essential daywear. In the evening a cut-away jacket was worn wit silk stockings and pumps. Fashionable young men were referred to as 'dandies'.
Even as women freed themselves for a short time from the confinement of corsets, the Regency dandy, following the Prince Regent’s fashion, began to constrict himself into a wasp-waisted and broad shouldered look. For men of a certain challenged physique, firm waists and tight stomachs were achieved through laced corsets. The sculpting of wide shoulders, bulging thighs, and fine calves was accomplished by well-placed pads
The clothes-obsessed dandy first appeared in the 1790s, both in London and Paris. In the slang of the time, a dandy was differentiated from a fop in that the dandy’s dress was more refined and sober. [...] In Regency London dandyism was a revolt against a different kind of tradition, an expression of distaste for the extravagance and ostentation of the previous generation, and of sympathy with the new mood of democracy. Beau Brummell set the fashion for dandyism in British society from the mid-1790s, which was characterized by immaculate personal cleanliness, immaculate linen shirts with high collars, perfectly tied cravats, and exquisitely tailored plain dark coats (contrasting in many respects with the “maccaroni” of the earlier eighteenth century).
Boots were de rigueur, and by the 1820s trousers became the dominant item of clothing for men instead of breeches and pantaloons. The colors were predominantly tan, white, blue, grey and, occasionally, black. Normally one plain color but sometimes pin-striped. Materials were wool, cashmere, corduroy, cotton, linen, leather and silk.
Men’s hairstyle of the Regency Era was short to medium at the sides and back but longer on top where the hair was often brushed upwards for height. Volume and curl was the key! If one was follicly-challenged the hair was ruffled with wax, twisted, and fluffed into a wild style. Short curly bangs and curls at the sides of the face above the ears were also fashionable. Some men did wear their hair long, particularly on the European Continent. Sideburns became increasingly common but virtually all men were clean shaven. Mustaches were worn by a few military officers but beards and goatees were unheard of. Wigs were only worn by the older gentlemen who clung to their ways!
Coats were very tight-fitting and mostly double-breasted, with long swallow-tailed skirts, or long full skirts; the waist was rather short, and the effect of coat-front round-breasted with a high turned-over collar finished in large lapels, which were often treated with velvets. The favourite colours for overcoats were greys, buffs, greens, and blues, and the edges were neatly finished with fine cord. The sleeves, rather full in the shoulder, became tight on the lower arm, coming to a curved shape well over the hand, and buttoned up the side. The pockets were frequently set at an angle, as in illustration, and a short round cape, or two, was seen on many overcoats.
A typical wardrobe would include: -Boots - plain riding boot, Wellingtons, or, early in the Regency, the tasseled German Hessians; -Pantaloons (pants) - skin-tight buckskin or wool, like modern day ski pants with a strap under the foot to prevent wrinkles (loose fitting breeches by the Regency were considered old fashioned); -Coat - a dark color of an exquisite cut with tails; -Shirt - snow white linen of fine lawn or muslin; -Waistcoat (vest) - of wool, linen or silk showing slightly below the high cut of the front of the coat; -Cravat - an intricately tied and well starched neckcloth, or stock; -Hat - tall, straight and black with a narrow curled up brim.
While France may have dominated women’s fashion during the nineteenth century, the superior skill of London tailors established English menswear as the standard for Europe and the New World. In the matter of evening wear, that standard consisted of Beau Brummell’s 1801 black-and-white dress code which had withstood the experimentation of the intervening years to become the status quo by the end of the Regency era in 1837. With the passing of the crown from William IV to his niece Victoria, the British Empire would commence an unrivalled epoch of prosperity and conservatism during which Brummell’s evening fashions would evolve into a virtual uniform across the western world.
Following the trend of women's fashions, men in the Regency era were dressed more soberly than their predecessors. The richly colored, brocaded suits were replaced by plain, dark cutaway coats which were especially practical for horsemanship. Knee breeches, stockings and buckled shoes gave way to pantaloons tucked into high riding boots. Finally, the powdered wigs of the Georgian era were forever relegated from fashion, as men of the period began wearing their hair short and natural.