Shooting and Hunting Costumes for Men: 1866-1882

Men’s shooting and hunting costumes came about because these sports were popular pastimes in the nineteenth century and these activities required not only “the kind or form of garments worn by gentlemen who go in search of pleasure to the stubble fields or moorlands [but outfits that were functional].”[1] In fact, the main rule when purchasing shooting or hunting costumes was that they be “adaptable for the various movements of the figure … [rather than fit] the taste or whims of the wearers.”[2]

Shooting and hunting costumes -Typical Hunting Costume of the 1860s, Public Domain

Typical hunting costume of the 1860s. Public domain.

That was also the reason why hunting and shooting costumes tended to change little from year to year, because if they did change, the changes were not always improvements. The Habits of Good Society, noted this claiming there was “a scale of honor among clothes [and reported there was] more honor in an old hunting-coat than in a new one.”[3] Further, the author noted that “a man who wears a red coat to hunt in, should be able to hunt, and not sneak through gates or dodge over gaps.”[4]

No one wanted to pity the hunter who was ill-dressed or who attempted to hunt in a frock coat or dress coat. Hunters believed the perfect hunting and shooting costumes were those with “‘cords’ … light in color … a red coat … scarf of cashmere … cap of dark green … [and] Hessians.”[5] Although the outfit above does not necessarily reflect the “perfect hunting outfit,” it does show the typical style worn in the mid 1860s. Other typical hunting and shooting outfits are shown below and cover the years 1866 through 1882.

Shooting and hunting costumes - Shooting Costumes of August 1866

Shooting costumes of August 1866. Public domain.

The shooting and hunting costumes for August 1866 “portray[ed] the English sportsman, equipped and clothed [for] fitness.”[6] This notion of fitness included long boots with the trousers covering them or the trousers tucked into the boots, as shown. (A side note about trousers: If trousers were not intended to be worn with boots, they were sometimes faced at the bottom with leather for extra protection from the elements.) The illustration also shows the front and back views of a shooting jacket. It has two flap pockets on the front and a curved pocket on the right breast. The back of the jacket has three seams, two curved and one straight up the back with a vent at the bottom. It also has a notched collar that falls low and four buttons up the front. The seams are lapped and stitched over, and button choices include stained ivory, fancy wood, or horn.

The trio below show the latest fashions worn by sportsmen in August 1867. On the left is an old style Shooting Jacket that was still favored by sportsmen in the 1860s. It had a shorter waist and flaps as the waist. The trousers were full at the top and small at the bottom “so as to fit nearly under the gaiters, and [were] … more practicable than either breeches or knickerbockers.”[7] The gaiters, if wet or dirty, could be removed and the trouser let down to their full length without a dress change. The cap had a flap and the collar of the coat could be turned up for protection from the sun or rain.

Shooting and hunting costumes of the 1800s

(Left to right) Old style shooting jacket, lounge Jacket, and hunting costume. Public domain.

The man in the center is wearing a lounge jacket style coat that buttons up the front. The jacket’s collar stood or fell depending on the wearer’s desire, and if looser garments were desired, a Norfolk blouse could be worn. By the 1860s, the old style of hare pockets were no longer required as game bags superseded them. Pockets now were either flask or patch pockets, with flaps that could be buttoned to protect the contents. In addition, the gentleman on the right is described as wearing a style of hunting costume “peculiar to France and Germany, but … too fanciful for English taste.”[8]

Another set of shooting and hunting costumes for August 1867 shows two of the more favorite styles of shooting jackets. The first jacket (on the left) is a loose-fitting lounge jacket, cut short and fastened at the waist by a matching belt. The three pockets — two on the skirt and one on the breast — have flaps. The sleeves are plain, the collar is narrow, and the edges have a stitched edge. It is buttoned with four buttons. The man on the right is wearing a shooting jacket similar to the morning coats of 1866 and 1867, but with a fuller skirt. It has a medium length waist and pockets with flaps in the waist seam, one “pouch”-pocket on each breast, and a ticket pocket on the right. It also has roomy sleeves and a collar and lapel. On each shoulder and at the bottom of each forearm is a leather patch to protect against the friction of the gun. The matching trousers or breeches have a fly front and frog pockets.

Shooting Costumes of August 1867, Public Domain

Shooting costumes of August 1867. Public domain.

Below are August 1868 hunting and shooting costumes for the “exhilarating and popular sport [of shooting].”[9] As shown on the left, the jacket’s waist is much longer than in previous years and although the back is cut whole, it could also have a center seam. The jacket is also broad at the bottom, the forepart across the chest allows for movement and the corners are rounded off. Of the four buttons, usually only the top two and, at most, the top three are fastened. It has flaps at the waist seam, pockets in the skirts, and a “pouch-pocket” on the breast. The sleeves have no cuff and are full enough to allow movement. Borders were popular in 1868 and the jacket on the right is ribbed with a large border imparting “an “exceedingly stylish character to the garment.”[10] The waistcoat is long, has no collar, is single-breasted, and buttons high. When trousers were worn, as shown here, they could be worn with gaiters and cut to reach to the top of the short shooting boot, thereby reducing the amount of fabric that fell over the knee. Trousers could also be “faced about 10 inches deep with leather to resist the brambles and … [to allow them to be easily] cleaned after a day’s sport.”[11]

Shooting Dress for August 1868, Public Domain

Shooting dress for August 1868. Public domain.

The illustration below shows hunting and shooting costumes or sporting fashions for December 1870. The young gentlemen’s outfit has a waistcoat that is single-breasted with a shawl form. The trousers are light brown Platt’s tweed. The man on the left is wearing a shooting costume of drab cord or stout tweed. It has a stand up collar and short skirt, and similar to the ulster, buttons up to the neck with the waist tightened by a belt, which in this case also supports a cartridge box. Leggings and knickerbockers complete the costume. The gentleman in the center is wearing a hunting costume consisting of double-breasted “Newmarket Coat of superfine scarlet cloth, with small white buttons.”[12] It buttons below the crease, has flap pockets at the waist, and has “the regular Newmarket cut, but with the front edge not … cut away.”[13] The men on the right is also wearing a hunting costume with a double-breasted Ulster Overcoat of grey Frieze or Elysian that is “loose-fitting, and cut very long.”[14] It has five buttons that fastens to the neck. The wide collar can be worn turned down or turned up and fastened with a tab. It is belted and can be kept in place by passing it through loops at the side seams. There is an outside pocket on the left breast and two large pockets at the front, all of which are covered by square flaps. In addition, there are two small diagonal pockets for the hands finished with narrow welts. The sleeves are adjustable at the wrist and could be worn loose or  “tight (… to keep out the cold), by means of the strap at [the] wrists [that buttoned].”[15]

(Left to right) Young Gentlemen's Outfit, Shooting Costume, Hunting Costume, and Hunting Costume with Ulster Overcoat, Public Domain

(Left to right) Young gentlemen’s outfit, shooting costume, hunting costume, and hunting costume with ulster overcoat. Public domain.

The illustration below shows shooting fashions for September 1874. It is the front and back view of what is generally known as a shooting coat and knickerbockers. This particular shooting coat was said to be “useful” and “probably bettered adapted” for hunting than any other style. It has two pockets in the skirts, two pockets outside the breast, and a cap pocket in the waist-seam, all with flaps. The flaps are broad, the waist long, and the hip buttons are wide apart. On the right shoulder is a patch of leather to protect the coat from the friction of a shooting gun. The knickerbockers are made from the same material as the coat and include the addition of either canvas or leather gaiters to protect the pants and the shoes from mud, dirt, or other elements.

Front and Back of Shooting Coat and Knickerbockers, Public Domain

Front and back of shooting coat and knickerbockers for 1874. Public domain.

The deer-stalker jacket is from August 1881 and illustrates both a front and back view. It is cut similar to a Chesterfield and is intended to be roomy and hang loose so the limbs can move freely and not be restricted. The jacket is made of a mixed cheviot or heather and the color corresponds as closely as possible to “the ground over which the shooting extends,”[16] thereby blending in with the environment and camouflaging the hunter from its prey. This particular jacket is long compared to other shooting jackets. It also has four buttons, a narrow collar that stands up, and a neck that is short, thereby allowing the collar to snugly fit around the throat. There are two “pouch” or “patch” pockets at the breast and two on the skirt, all of which have flaps. Additionally, the jacket’s edges are turned in and a broad edge is formed by stitching.

Deer-Stalking Jacket (Front and Back View). Public domain.

The duo below are wearing shooting jacket fashions popular in August 1881. They two jackets vary in character and appearance, as each one is adapted for their “locality.”  The jacket on the right is representative of former shooting jackets, as it is in the old style with a long waist and a back that is cut broadly reaching from plait to plait without a center opening. The are five buttons up the front, and the collar can be turned up to protect the throat. The sleeve has no cuff but does have one button at the wrist. The front of the jacket is rounded off at the bottom, and the “patch” pockets on the breast have flaps. Buttons vary from bone to horn to ivory. The breeches worn are cut loosely to the thigh, fit close to the knee, and are moderately long. They also have a fly front and “frog” pockets. The jacket on the right is single-breasted, cut rather long, buttons to the top, and has a narrow collar. There are two pockets with flaps on the forepart of the skirt. The matching trousers are faced with leather, about nine inches from the bottom, and are designed to be tight and short.

Shooting Jackets for August 1881

Shooting Jackets for August 1881. Public domain.

Shown are three basic shooting coats — Norfolk jacket, the old style shooting coat, and the lounge coat — from August 1882. The man on the left is wearing a Norfolk jacket. The front of this jacket buttons to the top, has a Prussian collar, and the pleats are stitched down on each side, as shown. When made from thin material this particular jacket often incorporates a back pleat in the center. The man in the center is wearing an old style Shooting Coat that is “long in the waist, hip buttons 4 1/2 inches apart, and the skirt fuller than usually worn in current styles of Morning Coats.”[17] On the right is a coat cut in the Lounge shape. It has no center seam in the back and is full in size to accommodate movement. Similar to the Norfolk jacket, the lounge jacket accommodates “a waist-belt made of the same material as the suit, or of leather.”[18] The front of the jacket buttons up and the collar is about four inches and can stand if desired. It is square at the ends with a tab that buttons over to protect the throat if required. As you can see from the illustration, knickerbockers remained in favor because they were comfortable and allowed ease of movement, but the knickerbockers of the 1800s were not as wide as previous styles. They were also fastened with two or three buttons and “when drawn up and buttoned, the full part … [fell] gracefully over … [and gave] ample freedom at the knees.”[19]

(Left to right) Norfolk Jacket, old style Shooting Coat, and Lounge Jacket. Public domain.

The trio below represents three styles of dress from November 1882 that were “most in favor with the class of gentlemen who follow the hounds to the hunting field.”[20] The gentlemen on the left is wearing a Hunting Costume with a coat cut in the morning coat style with its longer waist and more fullness and width in the skirt. The neck is cut high and can be adjusted by buttoning or unbuttoning. The collar is about three inches wide in front with a tab at the end, which can be buttoned when desired. If the gentleman was a member of a hunting club, scarlet was usually worn, as were club buttons, and Oxford boys “display[ed] their ‘pinks.'” Additionally, by the early 1880s, pantaloons were more frequently worn than short or old-styled breeches. The center man is dressed as a groom and the cut is the usual style worn in 1882, as is the livery cloth in the color peculiar to the family who employed the groom with “blue, claret, and olive … the usual colors.”[21] On the right is the typical dress worn by huntsmen and whips with the jacket sporting a velvet collar and cuffs. Additionally, if a sportsman wore a hat, then the whips and huntsmen wore caps similar in shape and style to the one shown in this illustration.

(Left to right) Hunting Costume, Groom, and Huntsmen and Whip Fashions, Public Domain

(Left to right) Hunting costume, groom, and huntsmen and whip fashions. Public domain.

References:

  • [1] Humphrey, Thomas Darwin, ed., The Weekly Record of Fashion, and Tailor and Cutter’s Guide, 1882, p. 232.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Habits of Good Society, 1863, p. 171.
  • [4] Ibid., p. 173.
  • [5] Ibid., p. 174.
  • [6] Gazette of Fashion, and Cutting-room Companion, Vol. XX-XXI, 1866-1867, p. 32.
  • [7] The West-End Gazette of Gentlemens’ Fashions, Vol. V, 1867, p. 8.
  • [8] Ibid.
  • [9] Gazette of Fashion, and Cutting-room Companion, Vol. XXII, 1868, p. 28.
  • [10] Ibid.
  • [11] Ibid.
  • [12] The Gentleman’s Magazine of Fashion, 1870, p. 4.
  • [13] Ibid., p. 4.
  • [14] Ibid.
  • [15] Ibid.
  • [16] Gazette of Fashion, and Cutting-room Companion, Vol. XXXV, 1881, p. 31.
  • [17] Humphrey, Thomas Darwin, ed., The Weekly Record of Fashion, and Tailor and Cutter’s Guide, 1882, p. 233.
  • [18] Ibid.
  • [19] Ibid.
  • [20] Ibid., p. 320.
  • [21] Ibid., p. 321.

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