More Frock Coats…

The frock coat were one of the most commonly worn items of men’s daywear in the Western World during the 19th Century. Even in locations as vastly separated as Great Britain and New Zealand (or Russia and the United States, for that matter), the frock coat reigned supreme and even after it began to be supplanted by the morning coat and the sack suit, it still maintained a strong position in men’s wardrobing.

As we noted in a previous post, the frock coat started out as a longer, full garment that somewhat resembled a great coat. As the 19th Century progressed, the frock coat gradually evolved to a shorter, more tailored garment:

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Frock Coat, c. 1820 – 1830; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.294-1910)

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Frock Coat, c. 1876; Kent State University Museum (1983.1.2392)

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Frock Coat, c. 1870s; Metropolitan Museum of Art


Frock Coat, American, c. 1870s; Kansas State University Museum (1984.21.1 ab)


Frock Coat, c. 1880 – 1890; McCord Museum (M973.49.7)

So, just for fun, how does this translate when it comes to film and TV and especially with that Gunfight at the OK Corral? 🙂  Well, let’s start with the iconic movie Tombstone:


Well, all said and done, not as bad as as one would think…except for Wyatt Earp. So what’s Wyatt wearing? Well, the best we can figure out is that it’s an elongated frock coat or a black-colored duster, your choice (I lean towards elongated frock coat myself 🙂 ).

Here’s one from Tombstone’s major competitor, Wyatt Earp:


Interesting, we see at least two in frock coats (it’s hard to make out what the second guy on the left is wearing) although Doc Holliday’s coat seems to border on being a light great coat.

And now we go back a little to Hour of the Gun:


Again, not too bad…in this movie, only Doc Holiday is wearing a frock coat. Finally, here’s one from Gunfight at the OK Corral:


And in this one, nobody is wearing a frock coat. 🙂

Now, let’s look at some Spaghetti Westerns… first we have A Fistfull of Dollars: 🙂

Lee Van Cleef1

And the classic The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly:

Lee Van Cleef2

And finally, there’s Quigley Down Under:


From the small sampling above, we would be inclined to believe that the frock coat is alive and well in the movies. 🙂 What’s also interesting is that often in Westerns in film and TV, the villain is often well-dressed and the frock coat is perfect for this.

For the recreationist, reproduction frock coats are available from a variety of sources at all sorts of prices. The cheaper ones are often simply patterned off of a modern men’s suit coat that’s been lengthened. The better ones are based off period patterns with the proper sleeve and shoulder styles. Also, the frock coat was a tailored garment with padded shoulders and chest that were constructed so that the coat keeps it shape even when taken off; a proper frock coat’s construction should reflect this.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little side-trip and be on the lookout for more posts on men’s clothing in the future. 🙂

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