March 14th, 2008

18th century men's wardrobe

Where: Philadelphia 
When: approx. 1795 

Short and simple: how many different "outfits" an average solid middle-class guy would have been likely to possess? (By "outfit" I mean, different frock coats, coats, cape, whatever - the pieces of clothing one actually might recognize)

Background:
The protagonist of my story in question is a french immigrant in the United States: while he is of aristocratic descent, he also is currently in considerable financial trouble. (Thus, his wardrobe is not very elaborate). 
He has made friends with some merchant-families, that, roughly could be perceived as "middle class" (so basicially, moderately well-off bourgeois). The question is now, whether they would notice, the protagonist was wearing the same three "outfits" all the time, or if a rather limited wardrobe would be quite usual to them, so that they wouldn't give it any second thought, let alone mock him? 

Already googled this and scanned several books, but as much information there seems to be available on nobility and clothing, I couldn't find anything to answer my question. 

Any help and/or thoughts on this will be highly appreciated, thank you so much!


edit: as pointed out to me, apparently I've had completely false impressions on this matter. So, question is more or less answered. Thank you.

Victorian London - female profession, gentlemen's clubs

My story is set in London, at some unspecified time between the ascension of Victoria and possibly as late as World War One. The social milieu is upper-middle to lower upper-class - my villain works for his living in the upper echelons of either a bank or a legal office (I haven't decided yet).

1. My protagonist is a young woman. In what manner could she work for the villain (50-ish male, very prosperous upper middle class) that would not be as a house servant and would allow others to observe their interactions? I assume a female secretary would not be plausible except near the very end of the period. A typist taking dictation of his memoirs, possibly?

Edit - clarification: The guy works in an office building, with a large (corner) office of his own. I need a respectable employment that'd let her be seen with him either in the office or around town, and for her to be his "personal" employee (her main work interactions are with him).

2. Were gentlemen's clubs only for gentry and above, or would prosperous upper middle class people (lawyers, bankers etc) also have clubs of their own? I can make my other protagonist have a permanent location at a City pub, but he wants a club chair.

I'm chiefly looking for ideas for #1, which is unfortunately not google-able. #2, instinct tells me yes, but I'd like a confirmation if possible?