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Dress.—If all you care about is not to be stared at, you may now walk about most parts of London in any ordinary English costume. If, however, you wish to go into the park during parade hours in the season, to the “Zoo” on Sunday afternoons, the Horticultural Gardens, or any other fashionable resort, gloves, chimney-pot hat, orthodox morning coat, &c., are still essential. If you have business to transact you will find it also an advantage to be got up in conventional style. Evening dress is not de rigueur in any part of any of the theatres, though on the whole it predominates in the stalls. Don’t wear a scarlet opera-cloak, however, if you can help it. It is cornmonly regarded by the initiated as strong evidence that its owner has come in with an “order.” Ladies frequent the stalls as much as any other part. At the Italian operas evening dress is indispensable in every part except gallery. This rule is rigorously enforced to the smallest detail, and it is hopeless to think of evading it. If, however, you have no dress suit of your own, and do not object to wearing other people’s, there are shops in King-street, Covent-garden, Chandos-street, and elsewhere, where you can hire for the night. The usual prices are, for hire for the day, coat, 5s. vest, 2s.; trousers, 3s.; overcoat, 5s. Black suits are let for funerals at similar prices, and umbrellas at 2s. 6d. per day. Of course, a deposit of the value of the articles has to be left during the hiring.
Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879