Robert Stansfeld (1805-1885) was an active member of his community, both military and civilian. After his retirement from the Green Howards he joined the 2nd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Militia. He was well liked among the men and it was remarked that he would stay in camp well into his 70s. This frockcoat was likely acquired upon his promotion to Lieutenant on 2nd November 1832. It was very stylish in civilian fashion but was only worn by the Green Howards Regiment, between 1822 and 1848.
The shape of frockcoats, both military and civilian, was inspired by the hourglass figure of Prince Albert. The royal family were seen to be the pinnacle of Victorian values of family and respectability. With industrialisation allowing the professional and upper middle classes access to ready-made tailoring, many adopted the frock coat as a symbol of respectability. Stansfeld’s frockcoat is cut to emulate this.
An hourglass figure is created through tailoring. The chest panels are cut with the buttoned edge longer to create a rounded chest. The lining is padded and quilted to stiffen the fabric. The frockcoat is also cut in two halves to allow a waist seam to be inserted, so compressing the waist. A leather waist band with two hooks attached to the lining pulls the waist circumference in further. Stansfeld’s waist would have been compressed to measure approximately 30 inches and he would likely have worn a stay, a type of corset, to change his body shape. To further emphasise the hourglass shape, extra fabric is cut into the tails and gathered at the back.