By the mid-nineteenth century, male attire was configured into a standard three-piece suit consisting of a jacket, vest, and trousers. Almost a uniform, the three-piece suit was worn for business daywear, country sportswear, and formal eveningwear. Though the variations were more subtle than those seen in womenswear, men could find ways to express their personality and style within this sartorial framework.
This vest, with an amusing novelty pattern of brocaded dice strewn across the wearer's chest, added variety to a man's wardrobe, revealing an interest in games of chance. Though dice were an unusual textile motif, Victorian men were encouraged to be risk takers in both business and personal affairs. This lighthearted vest could have been worn as informal sporting wear at a resort such as Saratoga Springs, New York, or Newport, Rhode Island, where gambling was a continual activity for restless men-about-town.
Watch fobs were both functional and decorative. Like this woven horsehair fob, they added a bit of decoration to a gentleman's ensemble, while also ensuring the security of his pocket watch. As pictured here, one end of the fob was usually embellished by a small charm, while the other end was attached to a pocket watch. When not in use, the watch was stowed safely in the vest pocket. With the fob attached to the vest buttons, a gentleman was less likely to lose, damage, or drop a treasured pocket watch.