The book began life as a graduate school joke, sort of a time-waster, really. Â I was writing a thesis on The Prince, with particular attention paid to the structure of the work. Â As it happens, I had recently bought my first pair of Edward Greens. Â So one night I was up late working on the thesis and drinking what should have been a very expensive bottle of burgundy (got cheap because the liquor store seemed not to know or care what it was). Â I kept taking little breaks to admire my as-yet-unworn shoes. Â Then I thought: what if Nick had written The Prince about how to dress instead of how to rule? Â At 1 am, with a belly full of burg, that seemed pretty funny. So I started writing a table of contents. Â 26 chapters, just like The Prince, in the same 16th-Century-Florentine-translated-into-English style. Â (I used the Mansfield translation, which is slightly less literal than Alvarez, but captures Nick's style and humor better than any other, in my opinion.) Â But I ran into problems getting the structure just right. Â The more I thought about it, the harder is seemed to be, so I just went to be with the thing unfinished. When I woke up I took another look at it, and was amused. Â Not as bad as I expected to find it. Â Now, if there is one thing I am good at, it is procrastinating. Â So I was delighted to have this new excuse to neglect my graduate work. Â I started to really delve in. Â I wrote the dedication and the first two chapters. Â These were fairly short and easy to do, since I already knew how they had to fit into the overall plan. Â Certain parts of the plan also seemed clear, but there were also some major problems. Â I was still not sure that I would ever write the whole book -- I hadn't even really thought about it -- but I became determined to get the outline (really the table of contents) just right. Â It became a challenge. Â I worked on that for a long time before I started writing the book in earnest. Â Even then there were some thorny issues that I didn't really resolve until very late in the game. Â And even then, I had to take certain liberties with Machiavelli's structure. Â The overall plan is very close, but Nick's book is also a little rabbit warren of subsections, and I found it mostly (not entirely) impossible to adequately mimic those. Anyway, I worked on it on and off for eight years. Â Sometimes I would not touch it for more than a year. Â Other times I would work on it flat out for six months. Â It's been "done" for a while now, though I am constantly rewriting and polishing. Â (When I "finished," it was about 45,000 words; now it is 52,000. Â Still a short book, but I have crammed a great deal more information in.) Â I have also sent parts or the whole thing to several people for "fact checks" and suggestions, etc. Â Their efforts have greatly improved it, and saved me from more than a few embarrassing errors. As to what it is: as I said, it is a close parody (as close as I could make it) of Machiavelli's Prince. Â It mimics the structure, the writing style, the tone, and a number of Machiavelli's literary devices. Â It approaches its subject matter in the same way: reason from experience and observation, and use other source material as "matter." Â It also uses examples quite liberally, in just the way that Nicky does. Â I state my opinions, in a way that is ... forceful, just like Nick. Â I make the strongest case I can for classic clothes and "Savile Row"/1930s/Apparel Arts/bespoke style. Â I discuss other traditions, sometimes favorably, other times disparagingly, but always in good fun. But, just as The Prince is more than a "how to rule" guide, so my book is more than a how to dress guide. Â There is a great deal of history in it. Â If a "rule" has an origin, I say what it is, or is believed to be. Â If it does not, I say that too. Â There are also concentrated passages of "philosophy" on how clothing affects and is effected by human behavior. Now, one thing this book is not is "scientific" or "definitive" or whatever. Â It does not attempt to prove things that cannot be proved (e.g., that sleeve buttons should, or should not, kiss). Â It does not attempt to definitively resolve irresolvable historical controversies, e.g., I did not go to Greenwich to search the Royal Navy archives for the true origin of the blazer, just as Nicky did not go to Rome to research the early republic, but instead relied on Livy, Polybius, etc. Â I rely on all the many sources I have been able to collect and examine. Â I do pass judgment on certain stories, some of which I believe, others I don't, and still others I can't say. Â This, too, is in keeping with the way Nicky treats his sources. Â For instance, sometimes he flatly says he does not believe Livy, other times that he thinks even Livy does not believe a story that he relates, etc. As to the title: it seemed obvious to me at the time: I needed one word that means "well-dressed man," and what other word is there? Â As I said, I do try, in the text, to rescue the word from ignominy. Â But if people are so put off by the title that they never read the text, a lot of good that will do me. Now, there is some bit of scholarly controversy about what the title of The Prince really is. Â Nick does indicate, in a letter, that he considered the title to be On Principalities. Â The book was not published in his lifetime or under his direct supervision, so perhaps we will never know. Â Anyway, I suppose I could try something like On Dressing Well. Â Doesn't grab me though. I do think that the title has to be in keeping with the style and tone of the contents, which means that it has to have some connection to Machiavelli. Â I have not been able to come up with anything better than The Dandy. Â It has a lot of virtues: it's short; it closely parallels The Prince; it is, if not unique, at least a rarely enough used word that it might grab people; I think it's sort of funny. Â Plus it relates to the text (and certain carefully plotted word usage within the text) in a way that I would hate to lose. All right, I could go on, but I won't.