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Posts Tagged ‘Men’s fashions in Ireland 1900s’

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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These photographs are from one of my recent acquisitions: an album of photographs, mostly snapshots, taken by a County Cavan family between 1900 and 1920. William Coyne is wearing strangely formal attire for a photograph taken in the backyard of a Dublin house: the full dress suit is matched by a stiff white collar and top hat. Sarah’s upswept hair and lace blouse/skirt combination were typical of the early twentieth century. 

I haven’t been able to definitively locate the Coynes on either the 1901 or 1911 census. He might have been the statistician William P. who in the 1901 census lived on St. Stephen’s Street or the Chief Inspector of Great Northern Railways who resided in Phibsborough? 

Despite the serious demeanour of the humans in these photographs the images make me laugh. The cat’s arched back is caught perfectly by the camera and the dog’s quizzical expression, as he stares up into this owner’s face, add a comical twist to an otherwise grim atmosphere. 

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