1863 Sack Suits - From a Gentleman's Catalog

ImageImageImageThese early sack suits, from the time of the Civil War are distinguished by their loose, full cut and the free use of the top hat, rather than the bowler or other choice, as a fashion option.

As can be seen in illustrations on other pages, later sack suits were far more fitted, and the coats not nearly as long. These coats are very similar to frock coats in terms of their size. In future decades, that would not be so much the case.

Note however, that while the top hat appears in this and many other fashion magazines and catalogs of the period, the vast majority of photographic images from the time which show sack suits show less formal, more practical and less expense headgear.

The top hat had faded as a suitable fashion choice with the sack suit by the 1870s, and even in the '60s was seldom worn in the countryside or out west.

Note also the free use of color and pattern in these illustrations. Note also that the individual pieces do not necessarily match in terms of color or pattern. They might, but they might not.

The gentleman in the low crowned bowler is wearing what was a very popular choice with all manner of gentleman's day wear in the 1850s & '60s: plaid or checked trousers with coat and vest of a different pattern. His vest, which is depicted as the same color as the trousers, is barely visible above the collar of his very full cut buttoned up coat.

The two gents in top hats also seem to be wearing ascot style ties. The fellow in the bowler is wearing a bow tie.

All forms of neckwear that were present in the 1860s could be worn with the sack suit.

Click on the images for a larger and more detailed view.