How much clothing would a man consume in a 70 year lifespan if he had been born in 1795, and spent his young manhood during the Regency era? The following passage is interesting in that it tells as much about the kinds of clothes that ordinary men wore as about the material they used up.
To this we have added the following calculation of the clothing the same man may have used. We estimate that a full-dressed man carries about fifty yards of cloth upon his body, or at least it has taken so many square yards of cloth to make the following garments: one under and one over shirt and drawers, eight yards; vest, with all its inside and out, four yards; coat, overcoat and cloak, 32 yards; the handkerchiefs in the coat and cloak pockets, two yards; pants, lined, four yards. Then we may add a nightshirt, four yards and morning wrapper, 10 yards, and we have 64 yards for a single suit. Allow six of these suits a year––of some garments he will want more, and some less than six, but take that as an average, and we have 384 yards for the gentleman’s wardrobe one year. Multiply that by sixty years, and we have 23,040 yards of cloth, which appears a fair allowance, as we throw out the ten years of childhood. With these garments he will want each year two pair of boots, two pair of shoes, two pair of slippers, two pair of rubbers or overshoes––480 pairs. With these he will wear sixty dozen pairs of stockings and (four hats a year) 240 hats. I will say nothing about the yards of cloth that he will want about his toilet and table, his carpets and curtains, and his bed, with its daily change of bedding; but you can imagine it would make a large spread. The great questions for consideration, in an agricultural point of view, is this: Could such a consumer of earth’s products produce as much as he consumed, with all industry applied during life, or would he be dependent upon the labor of others?
These calculations came from Facts For Farmers: Also for The Family Circle. A Compost of Rich Materials For All Land-owners, about Domestic Animals and Domestic Economy; Farm Buildings; Gardens, Orchards, and Vineyards; and all Farm Crops, Tools, Fences, Fertilization, Draining, and Irrigation – edited by Solon Robinson, 1865. (378)