According to Beau Brummell, "If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed." The leader of the Dandies was all about perfect tailoring and simplicity—understated style. But not everyone got it—or wanted to—and the term "dandy" has probably been more frequently one of ridicule, as the following poem and accompanying illustrations indicate.
FROM A DIDACTICAL SKETCH RECENTLY PUBLISHED, ENTITLED " FASHION."
AT length a thing of whalebone, buckram, starch,
With mincing gait, half tip-toe dance, half march,
Unlike to woman, more unlike to man—
A thing ne'er heard of since the world began,
Till lately in the realm of Fashion found.
Adoring self with reverence profound:
Since of its gender doubtful signs were shewn,
Its species e'en to naturalists unknown,
"Scorn'd by one sex, rejected by the other,
Its very sister laugh'd to call it brother;"
The languid looks this non-descript put on,
Its Gallic accent and its tender tone,
Its novel carriage—figure—raiment—feature,
Procur'd it notice—'twas so strange a creature.
Almeira saw it shining at a fete,
And deem'd 'twould make her a convenient mate;
It thought the nymph a kindred soil, and seem'd
As—next to self— the damsel it esteem'd,—
They spoke! embrac'd! and—all due matters carried—
The loveless pair in Christian mode were married.
—From La Belle Assemblée: or, Court and fashionable magazine; containing interesting and original literature, and records of the beau-monde. Publisher J. Bell, 1820
Illustration above left: "Dandies Dressing" by I.R Cruikshank, 1818. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Below right: "Waist and Extravagance", by W. Heath, ca. 1830.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.