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Brummell Vs. Classical Style - Page 3

post #31 of 120
Wasn't the term 'dandy' popularly applied to Brummell and his followers, who were dressing in opposition to the be-wigged peacocks of the time and advocating a pared-down simplicity and elegance? I guess it then became established as refering to someone who took great interest in and care over their dress, but then evolved into an association with kind of OTT dressers that Brummell was objecting to.
post #32 of 120
A good point Will. Geography does play a role as well. As a side note...I love your blog. I read almost everyday. It has helped me tremendously.
post #33 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackMesa View Post
Quite interesting, and in and of itself it does pose a conundrum. But let me counter with another question: In this day and age, in ones milieu do the tenents of Brummell even matter? And as a corollary, does "Classical Style"? How many people here on Style Forum have heard of Brummell before joining?
I think quite a few have heard the name and knew he stood for clothes but they dont know much about him historically. That quote is repeated far too much and distorted out of all context. He did say "John Bull" which is a very ordinary, middle class person. This is not the sort of person Brummell associated with or cared about. He was known for his clothing and wanted people to notice his clothing. When and if he made that comment he quite probably was being profoundly absurd in order to toy with whomever he was speaking to. Literalists have re-quoted it ever since. Because the drab and subdued is considered standard masculine clothing today it's a little difficult to realize that Brummell caused a sensation by wearing toned down, relatively drab colors back then; when other men in the upper classes wore fancy, colored things. Over time, the Brummellian code became standard so that to be Brummell today, one might need to wear shocking things. It really doesn't matter that much because that quote can no more help a person get dressed than belief in a style formula or that "fashion" is a dirty letter word. Well, it may be a dirty word but only for those with similar minds.
post #34 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Alden View Post
Mr Cogburn,

What Beau Brummell actually said was:

"If John Bull turns to look after you, you are not well-dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable."

In 2010, if men who try to dress well botch it up, it's because they wear clothes that are too stiff, too tight or too fashionable. So Brummel actually had a good many things right.

Brummel, Byron and many of the elegant set of the times were hardly shrinking violets. They wanted clothes that highlighted their rather immense personalities as opposed to distracting attention from same. They absolutely wanted to be seen, remarked and even idolized for "the men they were", not for their clothes.

It's the old "the man makes the clothes" tenet that never seems to tarnish.

Cheers

Michael Alden
www.dresswithstyle.com

In 2010 men who try to dress well (according to classical style guidelines) and botch it up will not be noticed because their "clothes that are too stiff, too tight or too fashionable", rather as J.Cogburn points out, it is because of their dressing in the 'classical style'.

If Will wore his usual ensemble and wandered around Union Square, he will inevitably draw notice of a few. Exchange his Marinella tie with a shiny metallic Charvet with matching pocket square, the looks he will draw will in general be the same.
post #35 of 120
5-Star Thread... Anything done with class will always be done right. Being a snob is as class-less as being a slob. Dressing well and being aware of your environment takes experience and an eye for detail. Keeping that knowledge with your age group, your social status (or the status you wish to attain) and the company you plan to keep you will be ready for the world. Cheers to the OP!
post #36 of 120
Perhaps Brummell's comment could be best understood as a reaction to the prevailing fashion mode...the Fop.

Sure, Brummell's clothing would have drawn attention. But for reasons of cut, simplicity, and elegance. Whereas the Fop was about ostentatious display, even to the point of looking (and smelling, with layers of scent) like a caricature of a human. The Fop was a head-turner, insofar as he dressed in a way that screamed for attention. Do the top 5% today dress in a foppish manner--that is to say, ostentatiously? If not, then Brummell's comment won't make much sense.

Recall also that Brummell moved in aristocratic circles, so he probably cared not a fig about impressing the common sort. I suspect that Brummell's outfit--should a lower class person be able to afford (or steal) it--would have drawn the same reaction from workers in the Regency era as a Brioni suit would from one's co-workers at Walmart. Exactly the reaction one gets by dressing above one's station. Brummell didn't have to worry about that, but most of the rest of us (particularly people who are younger) probably might.

Anyway, as for me, I dress casually for the most part; however, with items of high quality that don't stand out excessively from what most others wear. I dress for my own pleasure, but also for the person who has an eye to appreciate fine things. That's why I don't wear shirts with ponies on them anymore and why I don't have a Rolex.
post #37 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_I View Post
Keeping that knowledge with your age group, your social status
Yes, I agree with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_I View Post
(or the status you wish to attain) and the company you plan to keep
This not so much. Dressing in an aspirational style (say in a heavy tweed suit) if your friends are mainly meat and potato type/jeans would be quite strange.
post #38 of 120
I have come across a number of gentlemen recently who have revised my thoughts on style. I have generally passed them in the street, and walking away thought "I wish I had a better opportunity to examine that outfit".

This seems to occur because it's not sufficient to be outlandish, but adequate to stand out. I'll also say that much of these seems to be about fit and presentation; something that has compelled me to take more care of my clothes, i.e. pressing my trousers more regularly.

The really surprising aspect is how many were wearing something I would have thought would be 'too much', and yet it was carried off with balance. The best example I can give was a gentleman exiting Hyde Park one morning last week, who was wearing tartan trousers. Too much, one would think, but they were a dark cloth, excellently cut with perfect break, and were toned down by an otherwise conservative coat and shoes.
post #39 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimProf View Post
Recall also that Brummell moved in aristocratic circles, so he probably cared not a fig about impressing the common sort.... Exactly the reaction one gets by dressing above one's station. Brummell didn't have to worry about that...

If I understand the history, Brummell was always dressing above his station as he was continuously moving in circles above his station.
post #40 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I recall smoking a cigar on the Kowloon waterfront surrounded by literally hundreds of mainland Chinese who were asking for my autograph as they had never seen someone dressed like me in the flesh. Nonetheless, I would not have drawn a second glance at the Penn Club in Manhattan or the Wolseley in London. Was I well dressed? I believe so. One's native dress has always been correct. The rest is just a matter of self-confidence.

Analagous experience: Last summer, I went with some co-workers to a relatively high-end restaraunt in Washington, DC. I was wearing a seersucker jacket, white ducks, white bucks, a powder blue button-down shirt, and a tie that looked something like this. It was "casual Friday," so I thought I could pull off an outfit like that for office-wear. Anyway, the beautiful young blonde hostess saw me come in, stared for a moment with a couple of waitresses by her side, and said, "I'm sorry - I'm sure you hear this all the time, but my God, you are wonderfully dressed!" I was quite happy with that bit of head-turning, but would Mr. Brummell? If she were Jane Bull, perhaps not. But ... I don't believe it.

Quote:
Brummel, Byron and many of the elegant set of the times were hardly shrinking violets. They wanted clothes that highlighted their rather immense personalities as opposed to distracting attention from same. They absolutely wanted to be seen, remarked and even idolized for "the men they were", not for their clothes.

I suspect that you are right, Michael. But this too is a point that I've been unsure about. My wife contends that a big personality should have understated clothes because Mr. Big Personality needs no more (metaphorical) shouting about him. While there's something to that, the opposite would not hold. For instance, there is a fellow in my office who dresses like an Alpha-Male, K Street lobbyist "screw you" Washington power lawyer. He is, however, among the mildest, most decent fellows I know. Does a "mild" personality demand compensating clothes? No. If not, then the contention that clothes should tone-down or amp-up one's personality (as necessary) clearly holds no water.

Incidentally, this doesn't get too far with my wife. She - like her mother - believes that anything that distracts attention from YOU is a bad thing. Hence, any clothes that might prompt particular notice are to be distrusted and treated skeptically.

Quote:
That quote is repeated far too much and distorted out of all context. He did say "John Bull" which is a very ordinary, middle class person. This is not the sort of person Brummell associated with or cared about. He was known for his clothing and wanted people to notice his clothing. When and if he made that comment he quite probably was being profoundly absurd in order to toy with whomever he was speaking to. Literalists have re-quoted it ever since
.

My understanding was that Brummell was not a member of the high peerage at all and that he WAS dressing and socializing "above his class" so to speak. But I'm sure you are correct regardless that he was not attempting to impress Mr. Bull ... maybe Lord Bull.

Quote:
It really doesn't matter that much because that quote can no more help a person get dressed than belief in a style formula or that "fashion" is a dirty letter word. Well, it may be a dirty word but only for those with similar minds.

Oh I don't know. A lot of people seem to - consciously or not - live by this Brummellian rule. I know plenty of people who are happy to dress like everyone else and afraid of putting anything on that might elicit much notice. That might stem from a lack of interest in putting energy into dressing well or a fear of being perceived as "different." I do agree, however, that one can't really live by that quote while dressing particularly well given current sartorial standards.
post #41 of 120
Beau was fighting a war against men dressing effeminantly. Dressing understated is not the same as going with the flow. Initially Beau, when dressing in an understated manner, would actually have stood out more amoungst the garish fashions of the time.

Many street fashions today, aesthetically stand out. An Ed Hardy shirt for example, has a hideous fucking image on the front. But, culturally, such clothing blends in with the similiarly dressed herd.

Beau was clearly talking about not aesthetically standing out, rather than not culturally standing out. As culturally, he was the rebel early on in his career.
post #42 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Cogburn View Post
My understanding was that Brummell was not a member of the high peerage at all and that he WAS dressing and socializing "above his class" so to speak. But I'm sure you are correct regardless that he was not attempting to impress Mr. Bull ... maybe Lord Bull.
He was a social climber but charming which was preferable to a charmless one. The key ingredients here include class. Brummell wasn't afraid of his class or what he wanted from other clases. In contradistinction to modern confusion concerning issues of class, people back then didnt fear the word or pretend it didnt exist. That alone separates the purpose of Brummell from many modern day wannabes. Brummell was not only dressing to be noticed, it is dressing to take charge, to be The One. I reiterate that to modern eyes, Brummel's clothes were normal but back then they were outlandish. The idea that he didnt want the people he hobnobbed with to notice his clothes is absurd. Cleanliness was his other calling card as well as wit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Cogburn View Post
Oh I don't know. A lot of people seem to - consciously or not - live by this Brummellian rule. I know plenty of people who are happy to dress like everyone else and afraid of putting anything on that might elicit much notice. That might stem from a lack of interest in putting energy into dressing well or a fear of being perceived as "different." I do agree, however, that one can't really live by that quote while dressing particularly well given current sartorial standards.
If so, they are living a lie, he would not have worn dull dark clothes today, he would come up with something new and better. I'll bet he would also be quite interested in designer clothes. If men want to use that quote as a brave face to cover up their fear of standing out, that's their concern. Brummell would look down on John Bull and John Bull today wears a non descript suit, tie and shirt (although probably wih monk straps ).
post #43 of 120
Thread Starter 
I tend to agree with you, Mr. Bunny, which is why I find that the Brummullian quotation at issue is quite problematic ... at least, in the context in which it has often been marshalled. By the way, I quite agree with your take on dandyism in general. Nice essay.
post #44 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by james_timothy View Post
If I understand the history, Brummell was always dressing above his station as he was continuously moving in circles above his station.

True, but he was best friends with the Prince Regent and spent money like an accomplished Aristo. He did not socially mix with laborers and farmers.
post #45 of 120
Brummel wasn't making a timeless pronouncement on style to be etched on stone tablets and passed down to future generations; he was reacting against the garishness of the style of his contemporaries by championing a simpler, somewhat minimalistic style. This had the added bonus of creating a fashion terrain where he could compete without needing to invest as much as he would have had the old ornate fashion remained in vogue.

Now I'm totally ok with running away with that sentence and re-contextualizing to see what it could mean to a styleforumner today but hey, to me, just like royals and other stylish dressers of that ilk, Brummel doesn't mean much.
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