Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peacock, Some More

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Susan reports:

443px-Waist-and-Extravagance-ca-1830-fashion-satire-Heath I agree. Beau Brummel had a LOT to do with wringing the neck of the male peacock by insisting on colorless good taste. He didn't do it single-handedly, of course –– there's that whole grave, gloomy, righteously gloomy Victorian-man-thing looming right over the horizon, cheek to jowl with the grey Industrial Revolution –– but ol' Beau can take a goodly part of the blame.

But what struck me most about those 1830s fashion plates wasn't how plain the gentlemen's attire had become, but how similar the basic silhouette was to the ladies' whacky gowns. They both have the same wide, sloping shoulders, broad chests/breasts, and tiny waists. I know I've read that Prinny and other gentlemen of the time who struggled with avoirdupois-management resorted to corseting, but these guys would give Scarlett O'Hara a run for the smallest-waist prize. Then suddenly their coats billow outward like the ladies' bell-shaped skirts, and worse, those white trousers give them...hips. I mean, who doesn't know that white pants make one's butt look big?

This 1830s cartoon (aptly callled Waist and Extravagance) exaggerates to make its point, but it's not that far from the fashion-plates. Hmmm –– maybe Jessica should have been making fun of Dain's wardrobe, too?


Vanessa Kelly said...

The thought of Dain dressed in one of those outfits makes me feel faint - and not in a good way!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

you know, I wondered whether the nip/tuck @ the waist was exaggerated for the men! I've just imagined the romance ideal of the flat hips and waist. But the idea of men creaking and groaning in whalebone, then, ugh, removing it pre-love scene is not titillating. Not like when you describe the lovely removal of layers of feminine lace and silk. From women, I mean. Or men in the 18th C. Damn you, Brummel! And I'm a bit w/nessa on the Dain vapors.

Loretta Chase said...

Me, too, with Nessa & Michelle. I never pictured Dain with a nipped-in-waist of these extremes. But these were not the only men's fashions. Over at The Republic of Pemberley site, there's an 1829 coat that has the same simple lines as the clothes Brummell wore. I'll stick with my image of Dain as wearing very expensive, perfectly styled, understated elegance. I think I've got another painting somewhere that will show what I mean, and will soothe troubled spirits.

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