Shire Book: Gentlemen's Dress Accessories
A growing population in the mid-nineteenth century and a wealthier middle class, combined with an increased social awareness, greater literacy, better travel facilities, inventiveness and cheaper production through mechanization, all helped to increase demand for male fashion accessories. Men wished to balance the sobriety of their clothing: if fashion dictated drab coloring, all they could do was to add ornament; hence, gentlemen came to display a selection of male jewelry. The highlight of these accessories was the watch chain or albert with its attachments: watch-keys, seals, fobs, compasses, pencils, vestas and the like. Studs, cravat pins, flower holders, cuff-links and special dress buttons for waistcoats were also widely used. Many of the items described and illustrated here are very collectable and can still be worn today, often providing a stimulating conversion point.