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Posts Tagged ‘1900s Men’s Dress’

James Joyce was an astute observer of both male and female fashions. Within Ulysses he repeatedly mentions the uncomfortable nature of the stiff collars worn by men and also notes how various styles of necktie signified class and status. I’ve gathered together some contemporaneous Irish images from Dublin, Belfast and Kilkenny photographic studios illustrating the type of attire that Joyce was referring to.

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“Always know a fellow courting: collars and cuffs. Well cocks and lions do the same and stags. Same time might prefer a tie undone or something.” Nausicaa

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“Bloom stood behind the boy with the wreath looking down at his sleek combed hair and at the slender furrowed neck inside his brand new collar.” Hades

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“What caused him irritation in his sitting posture? Inhibitory pressure of collar (size 17) and waistcoat (5 buttons), two articles of clothing superfluous in the costume of mature males and inelastic to alterations of mass by expansion. How was the irritation allayed? He removed his collar, with contained black necktie and collapsible stud, from his neck to a position on the left of the table.” Ithaca

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“He rustled the pleated pages, jerking his chin on his high collar. Barber’s itch. Tight collar he’ll lose his hair. Better leave him the paper and get shut of him.” Lotus-Eaters

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“Master Dignam walked along Nassau street, shifted the pork steaks to his other hand. His collar sprang up again and he tugged it down. The blooming stud was too small for the buttonhole of the shirt, blooming end to it.” Wandering Rocks

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“Dull eye: collar tight on his neck, pressing on a blood vessel or something.” Hades

 

 

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This photographic postcard displays a playful interaction between image and text. It was sent from Gilnahirk, County Down, to a young boy in Malton, Yorkshire, England in late 1904. The oval portrait, with bare trees silhouetted in the background, shows a man with his arms folded. He is wearing a stiff white collar and his well oiled hair is parted in the centre, a style that was very typical of the era.

I really like the sender’s typically Northern Irish use of the word ‘wee’ and the self-deprecating way in which he draws attention to his grumpy demeanour: “Dear George, Do you remember ever seeing this wee chap? Hope you are keeping well. Wishing you a Happy XMas and a bright and prosperous New Year. With love to all, Joe. I’m not always quite so solemn looking.”

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The boy in question was Master George Pexton who lived at the Railway Hotel, Norton, Malton, Yorkshire, a photograph of the establishment can be seen here.

The postal mark places the sender in Belfast city on the evening of the 23rd of December and one can imagine the card being received just in time for Christmas. Overall, the document is a delightful snippet of early 20th century life.

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