Ah, excellent web site for its ferreting out period inaccuracies of romance novel covers.
And what an excellent blog post title: Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts. Says the author:
Here's a description of male attire from my Regency time travel, Lady of the Stars. The twenty-first century heroine, Caroline, gets her first good look at the Regency hero, Richard.
"Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle."
This passage illustrates another aspect of Regency men's clothes: they were tight. A man's coat often fit so closely he needed help putting it on, and then he might be unable to lift his arms as high as his shoulders. Form-fitting breeches literally left little to the imagination. Then, as now, such clothes could look good only on men with the best physiques, like romance novel heroes.
She is not kidding about the breeches - if the BBC's 1971 "Tom Brown's School Days" is accurate. I didn't notice this when I first saw the series but I noticed it this time - wow you can see virtually every male character's package. It's practically obscene. I think I'll watch it again tonight.