Victorian London - Clothing - Collars

Victorian London - Publications - Humour - Punch - cartoon 82 - Collars

"THERE - THAT WAS A PORTRAIT OF MY MOTHER'S FATHER, PAINTED BY LE SANGE, IN 1802."
"LA! WHAT GUYS OUR GRANDFATHERS MADE OF THEMSELVES!"

Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1853


     In the social classification of the nether world -- a subject which so eminently adapts itself to the sportive and gracefully picturesque mode of treatment -- it will be convenient to distinguish broadly, and with reference to males alone, the two great sections of those who do, and those who do not, wear collars. Each of these orders would, it is obvious, offer much scope to an analyst delighting in subtle gradation. Taking the collarless, how shrewdly might one discriminate between the many kinds of neckcloth which our climate renders necessary as a substitute for the nobler article of attire! The navvy, the scaffolder, the costermonger, the cab-tout -- innumerable would be the varieties of texture, of fold, of knot, observed in the ranks of unskilled labour. And among these whose higher station is indicated by the linen or paper symbol, what a gap between the mechanic with collar attached to a flannel shirt, and just visible along the top of a black tie, and the shopman whose pride it is to adorn himself with the very ugliest neck-encloser put in vogue by aristocratic sanction For such attractive disquisition I have, unfortunately, no space; it must suffice that I indicate the two genera.

George Gissing, The Nether World, 1889


When I first came to London, men of the "respectable" class all wore stiff white shirts at their work and in town. My mother frowned on my father wearing a white flannel collar on occasion in the nineties and I myself astonished my world by appearing at the same period in shirts which, although stiff, carried horizontal coloured stripes. The so-called comfortable soft collars of today would have seemed revolutionary; our soft shirts and cuffs would have been forbidden. And as for our ties, they would have been considered absurdly informal.

Grant Richards, Memories of a Misspent Youth, 1932