United States Suit Vests: Color

Figure 1.--This hand colored photo. Looks like a water color painting and I would have thought that's what it was except for the photographer's label on the back. Frame measures 13.75" x 16". Oval mat opening measures 10" x 7". Dated Februry 1874 on the back. The photographer was Henry Biddle from Cleveland, Ohio.

Color informtion is difficult to obtain for the 19th century. We can spot black and whire garments. We note teenagers wearing black vests with the somber frock coats that were a fashion stapel for established Victorin gentlemen. A good example is Clarence E. Summer, we believe in the 1840s. We can also note conrasting shades in the black and white photography which became available in the mid-19th century, but it is difficult to determine actul colors. It gives an eroneous impressins that vests were grey. We do, however, notice some bright colors in the limited color images we can find. We believe that colors werecmmon at mid-centry. We also see bright patterns. Many are colorized portraits. This is not as valid as an actual color photograph, but we believe are strong indications of actual colors. By the late-19th century we no longer see light or brightly colored vest. We know this beause the vests by the 1870s wee mstlt matching the suit as were the pants. We see some exceptions. We note G. Ward Hogan in 1907 with a white vestas part of his suit. Matching vests did not change until the mid-20th century when boys began wearing the vest as an alternative to a suit jacket.


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Created: 6:35 AM 3/25/2008
Last updated: 5:41 AM 5/25/2015