In Henry Clay in the U.S. Senate, Phineas Staunton portrays Clay dressed in the black swallowtail coat and extravagantly high collar that were the senator’s signature style. Clay continued to wear this style even after it fell out of fashion.
Isaac Bassett, employed by the Senate for 63 years, offered a firsthand observation in his late 19th-century memoirs about the attire preferred by Henry Clay:
Dress of Senators in Olden Times and the Present
When I was a page in 1831, very few of the senators appeared on the floor of the Senate when the Senate was in session in any other style of coat than a swallow tail. They wore ruffled shirts and ruffled wristbands. Their vests [were] embroidered, their stockings were of fine silk. . . . They wore blue or brown clothes and Senator Webster’s coat was always adorned with brass buttons. Henry Clay always came to the Senate in a black swallow tail coat and his shirt collar was very large. I have heard ladies say to each other, "Why does Mr. Clay wear his collar so high?" In these later days there are very few senators that come into the Senate wearing a swallow tail coat. (From the Papers of Isaac Bassett)
View Henry Clay's high collar: