Sunday, August 23, 2009

1830s Dandies by Dickens

Sunday, August 23, 2009
Loretta reports:

I've been doing one of my annual re-reads of Dickens. This time it was The Pickwick Papers. Plenty of laughs, lots of interesting historical detail, and some costume mysteries.

What, pray tell, are "Oxford-mixture trousers"? How about "plush shorts and stockings"? The following, though, I think will be easy for everyone to understand, after our recent Show & Tell.

'Well, I'll bet you half a dozen of claret on it; come!' said Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, resuming the conversation to which Mr. Pell's entrance had caused a momentary interruption.

This was addressed to a very smart young gentleman who wore
his hat on his right whisker, and was lounging over the desk, killing flies with a ruler. Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, was balancing himself on two legs of an office stool, spearing a wafer-box with a penknife, which he dropped every now and then with great dexterity into the very centre of a small red wafer that was stuck outside. Both gentlemen had very open waistcoats and very rolling collars, and very small boots, and very big rings, and very little watches, and very large guard-chains, and symmetrical inexpressibles, and scented pocket-handkerchiefs.


Lauren Lee said...

I love Dickens!
But what are "symmetrical inexpressibles"? Can you explain, or show us a picture?

LorettaChase said...

"Inexpressibles" is a euphemism for trousers (or breeches). We think this term goes back to the days of the stockinette breeches that showed what a young man was thinking. I'm not sure about the symmetrical part. Will have to look it up.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

One would hope they'd be symmetrical for the sake of the poor wearer!

Julia Justiss said...

So delighted to find your new blog, courtesy of Michelle over at B&N romance site. Count me as another nerdy girl who loves history (and your novels, BTW, read Loretta's in its debut month and still have all her trad Regencies Knave's Wager being my all-time favorite; just finished The French Mistress and have all the previous ones in the series--YUM!)

I'll try to carve time out of my insane schedule to visit and get all the daily digs on history etc.

BTW, anyone query Kalen over at Beau Monde on the clothing issues? She's the reinactor/period clothing expert there, has done seminars on clothing at RWA National.

Thanks for putting this together!

Deb Marlowe said...

Plush shorts and stockings? I'm intrigued by what this might be describing in Dickens' time?

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