Family Stories

Mens Fashions 1860-1890


Photographed by G. W. Squires, 14 State Street, Rochester, New York

I have many oohs and aahs when I share ladies photos with you – and, let’s be honest – their clothing styles are more varied and beautiful.  But, with just a little more attention, we can see that men’s fashions have varied over the years and are quite attractive – including their handsome faces!

Today I am sharing eight photos with you, the first three are carte-de-visite, the small 2.5 x 4 inch photos popular in the 1860’s – especially during the Civil War –  through the 1870’s.  At that time the cabinet card became popular, a bit larger photo at 4.5 x 6.5 inches, and lasted from 1870 to 1900.  The last five photos are cabinet cards.


Photographed by R. A. Lewis, 152 Chatham Street, New York

Back to our first two photos.  Notice that the coat seems over-sized.  During the 1850’s to 1860’s this was the style.  The lapels are also wide.  And coats are much longer – knee-length!  These two gentleman are wearing cravats – the precursor of our modern necktie.  During this time period, 1800-1860, cravats were all the fashion, and there were even publications that gave instructions on the proper way to tie a cravat.


Miss C. Smith, Photographer, 104 Merrimack Street, Lowell, Massachusetts

This photo, although still a carte-de-visite, is a later version – as you can see by the clothing, probably taken in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s.  In this time period men’s fashions became slimmer and fit more to the body.  This was also the time period for the tiny lapels, as above, and generally only the first button or two was buttoned, giving a glimpse of the waistcoat and watch fob.  The necktie is almost hidden.  Miss C. Smith was the photographer for this gentleman, a rarity!


Fitton Photography, 345 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts

This gentleman’s coat is still of the 1880’s, small lapels, buttoned top button, but it is of a tweed material.  The longer mustache gives him character!


A. E. Dumble, Photographer, 44 State Street, Rochester, New York

The date on the back of this photo is 1889.  It also says, This Negative Preserved.  Prints from it at any time.  Portraits in Crayon and India Ink.  All copies of Daguerreotypes, Photographs, etc., are made under our personal supervision and are finished with special care.  Bring your old pictures to be copied, to us.  Successful portraits of the most difficult subjects.  All negatives made by instantaneous process.  Special care with Children.

This gentleman reminds me of an artist – I think it’s his facial hair!  And the look in his eye!


Lee Photography, York, Nebraska

York, Nebraska, is only 32 miles from Fillmore, Nebraska, where my husband’s maternal grandparents lived and died.  Perhaps this could be a relative!

These last three photos are from 1890-1900.  The suits fit well, the coats are generally open, with waistcoat showing, white starched shirts are the norm, as are generally wide neckties.


J. M. Hoskins, Photographer, Mount Morris, Illinois

This young gentleman is very dapper.  I love his necktie!


Gribble Photography, Fostoria, Ohio

This is perhaps my favorite photo of the group.  How dramatic – the eyes!  The mustache!  And his charming white bow tie!

3 replies »

  1. What a fascinating and dramatic view of life in the mid 1800’s. I really enjoy looking at the photographs on your site. thank you for sharing. Marilyn

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