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Author Topic: Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?  (Read 9416 times)

Offline pnweerar

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« on: November 15, 2007, 03:25:09 AM »
A bit of a more removed question - why were uniforms from the 19th century so pretty? I imagine everyone knew how muddy, dirty, and even bloodied they would get, so why was there such to do about making them look nice for the parade grounds?

I can imagine smaller, professional armies may have done so to boost recruitment, but it makes little sense given the rise of conscription-based forces with Napoleon.

Just wondering if any of our history buffs had some answers.

Offline poulppy

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2007, 07:00:34 AM »
well it's a huge question :
first the uniform are pretty to boost recruits
also pretty uniforms are choosen to give a corps spirit to the unit or regiment. At least, they don't need to hidden  :lol:
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Offline Westfalia Chris

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2007, 07:36:26 AM »
Another aspect would be command and control - considering that the channels of communications were primitive back then, the commander had to be able to recognize his troops from the Feldherrenhügel (command post hill) in order to see how the battle developed. So it´s better to have an easily-recognized uniform, which, in all probability, should be visibly different from the enemy´s.

As the years progressed and the large infantry formations became less important, I guess the main point for keeping the uniforms was tradition. And the fact that the troopers in uniform look snappy, thus adding to the appeal of the armed forces.

Offline fastolfrus

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2007, 08:56:15 AM »
Another practical consideration - if you dress your men in distinctive clothes they are easier to find if they try to desert (well at least until they desert and murder a civilian for his suit)
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Offline marianas_gamer

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2007, 11:50:16 AM »
Fastolfrus,
 I think that  you have hit it on the head....but more for the 18th century. Thats not to say that it doesn't extend further into time...Or as they said on Broadway...Tradition!!!
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Offline Malamute

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2007, 11:59:18 AM »
Red coats, traditional for us Brits don't show the blood when wounded.  So good for morale.  :)
I am not sure if that is the real reason why we traditionally wear scarlet tunics, but I am sure i heard it mentioned somewhere.:)

Personally if I am going to have to go out onto a battlefield and risk getting blown to pieces by a cannon, or run through by lance or bayonet then I would like to look good when it happens. I am sure I would feel more comfortable wearing an attractive uniform with lots of braiding, piping and pretty colours than my drab civilian garments :lol:
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Offline PeteMurray

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2007, 12:27:19 PM »
It also has something to do with the advent of the industrial revolution. You had things like helmet plates and brass buttons during the Napoleonic Era, but it took the industrial revolution to really be able to crank out brass Prussian eagles and buttons with the lion and unicorn on them. Now uniform features that had once been affordable to only the palace guard to go to everyone in the army.

And then the British had to go and ruin everything with khaki, because they no longer had the market cornered on cochineal. If khaki hadn't been incorporated into uniforms, your "business casual" clothing today might very well include epaulettes and shoulder cords.

Offline Hammers

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2007, 12:32:56 PM »
Quote from: "Malamute"
Personally if I am going to have to go out onto a battlefield and risk getting blown to pieces by a cannon, or run through by lance or bayonet then I would like to look good when it happens. I am sure I would feel more comfortable wearing an attractive uniform with lots of braiding, piping and pretty colours than my drab civilian garments :lol:


A very, very British sentiment! Thus speak the decendants of the Light Brigade!

Offline Hammers

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2007, 12:37:05 PM »
Quote from: "PeteMurray"
And then the British had to go and ruin everything with khaki, because they no longer had the market cornered on cochineal. If khaki hadn't been incorporated into uniforms, your "business casual" clothing today might very well include epaulettes and shoulder cords.



Offline PeteMurray

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2007, 12:43:20 PM »
I think if you'll look more closely at your photo, you'll see that in addition to the uniform jacket, the subject is wearing war paint and confetti. I would expect these to be business casual only if the Iroquois Confederation took back Manhattan and the Euro was replaced by Circus Wacky Bucks.

Offline Malamute

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2007, 12:51:45 PM »
Quote from: "hammershield"
Quote from: "Malamute"
Personally if I am going to have to go out onto a battlefield and risk getting blown to pieces by a cannon, or run through by lance or bayonet then I would like to look good when it happens. I am sure I would feel more comfortable wearing an attractive uniform with lots of braiding, piping and pretty colours than my drab civilian garments :lol:


A very, very British sentiment! Thus speak the decendants of the Light Brigade!


Indeed Sir,  :)

"On their return home the newly named 17th Lancers were employed in a round of garrison duties in England and Ireland, which lasted 30 years. In 1826 Lord George Bingham (later Lord Lucan and commander of the British Cavalry Division in the Crimea) bought the Colonelcy of the 17th. The Regiment was mainly employed as an aid to the civil powers though they did provide guards for both Queen Victoria in Dublin and the Czar in Windsor. Bingham spent lavishly on the Regiment buying blood horses for all ranks and commissioning fashionable tailors to produce uniforms for his regiment to his own design. The effect was so drastic that the Regiment came to be known as 'Bingham's Dandies', matched only for splendour by Lord Cardigans 11th Hussars or 'Cherry Pickers'

Its the Cherry Pickers for me although I always wanted to be a dandy :lol:

Offline Hammers

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2007, 12:54:57 PM »
You are of course right. :-) I was just remembered a time back in the '80 when wnet clubbing snazzed up in shoulderboards, adjutant's coards, hussar jackets and Loveboat peaked captains hats. It certainly wasn't casualwear, few things were, between punks, skinheads, new wave and disco freaks, teddy boys, rastafarians and mods.

Offline Hammers

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2007, 01:02:38 PM »
Quote from: "Malamute"

Its the Cherry Pickers for me although I always wanted to be a dandy :lol:


I never figured out why the regiment was called the Cherry Pickers. Was it because they were late for the battle of Waterloo or because Lord Cardigan thought pink jodphurs and piping made the men look dashing?

Online Plynkes

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2007, 01:14:19 PM »
Something to do with an incident in a cherry orchard during the Peninsular War, if memory serves.

Edit: http://website.lineone.net/~royal.hussar/11hnapoleonic.htm
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Offline Malamute

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Why were 19th Century uniforms so pretty?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2007, 01:18:05 PM »
[quote="hammershield
I never figured out why the regiment was called the Cherry Pickers. Was it because they were late for the battle of Waterloo or because Lord Cardigan thought pink jodphurs and piping made the men look dashing?[/quote]

Doesnt everyone think pink jodphurs look dashing, or is it just me :?:  :lol:

 

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