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Gentlemen's Toilette

The timetable for a gentlemen's preparation for the day

The time a gentleman spent at his toilette could range anywhere from 2 hours to 5, depending on his intentions behind the preparations (lounging around the house? a ball?) what all needed to be accomplished (a bath? a shave?), and how fastidious he was (no, not this cravat, that cravat!), not to mention how much had already been prepared by his valet (were the shoes already polished? Was the attire already set out for dressing? Was the razor already sharp?).

If a gentleman wished to bathe, he could easily add 2-4 hours to his dressing time. If he was dressing for the evening and had not shaved that morning, he would add nearly an hour just for the straight-edge shave. If he were fastidious, he could go through half an hour of crumpled cravats until his valet knotted it to his satisfaction.

The bath itself would take about 2-3 hours to prepare once ordered, not including bathing time. Some gentlemen were known to enjoy a 2 hour bath to make the most of the immersion after all that work and ensure thorough cleanliness.

It is important to realize that no gentleman could dress nicely without assistance, for clothing like the tailcoat was so snuggly tailored he would never be able to get his arms through it on his own without ripping it.

There was no way to rush the process without sacrifice. Dressing came down to planning well in advance, accepting the lengthy process, or appearing sloppy and not fully dressed. Planning ahead was the best choice to avoid a lengthy toilette, such as by shaving in the morning and ordering the bath be ready by a certain time that evening, ensuring the valet would have all that was needed at the ready. If one had not planned and was in a hurry, he must forego the bath and the shave for certain, and possibly other aspects of the process.

Enjoy this video on the process of getting dressed in the Georgian era:

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