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English dandyism, yesterday's and today's

Film Noir Buff

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What exactly do we mean by dandy?

A man who loves to wear clothes, a man who has a heightened sense of interest in grooming and style, a man for whom individuality must be expressed more clearly? Well dressed men abound but they need not be dandies. Dandyism is a lifestyle but we are here concerned primarily with clothes. However, there is an association between English dandyism and congregating around the Gentleman's clubs and the more fashionable shopping areas of London.

There are at least two types of English dandy or at least two levels. English dandyism as originally conceived of by Brummell was a denial of exciting plumage and a preoccupation with minuscule differences in cut, quality, fit and cleanliness for clothes and shoes. The other sort of dandy, the more modern dandy, is someone who uses clothes more for shock value (Although in his day, it is arguable that Brummell also sought to shock people with his "plainness"), to affect a trompe l'oeil or to pique the observer's curiosity with a prolonged delay of what art critics call the resolution phase.


The Brummellian dandy today would simply be referred to as a smart dresser and a solid man of manners. His kit excites no wonder, just an immediate symmetrical, eye pleasing canvass of everything well made, fitted and proper with just a dash of flair. The smart dresser wants you to notice the cut of his suit, the shape of his otherwise standard spread collar, the quality and knot of his tie, the suppleness of his black lace ups. This sort of man is clean, well groomed and, until noticed, invisible.

By contrast, the modern dandy would use a lot of offbeat colors, textures, patterns and shapes to be acceptable but have some iconoclastic differences. Both individuality and eccentricity play a major role here; accented with the touch of an artist. This is why I often associate Salvador Dali as a prime example of modern dandyism. A dandy is more interested in the archaic which his why he would wear the Cartier crash watch while the smart dresser would instead wear a modern Patek.

As of yet, no one has figured out whether being a smart dresser is a gateway to becoming a fully fledged dandy or if the two are separate but equal creatures. One thing is certain, they both love clothes.

However, a dandy is allowed expressions the well dressed man is not. A dandy is allowed to get things perfectly while other Englishman are not. He is excused rather like the shaman the eccentricity and the fanaticism of clothes. He is also allowed to be more in touch with his feminine side because that side is acknowledged to be more concerned with matters of color, fit and luxury.


Brummell stands for lack of imagination in color and fabric choice but a fanatically tasteful eye for details. But there are those that are concerned with color and texture and a bending if not a departure from Brummell's rules. They will just do things better, pick things that others find tasteful but cannot choose themselves, and indeed dare not wear themselves. The dandy dares. However he does not pose, instead he wears something that is unquestionably himself but more flamboyant than the "chaps" would wear. And although he is perhaps idiosyncratic and eclectic, his clothes are recognized as in good taste and undeniably English.
 

dopey

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Originally Posted by Film Noir Buff
What exactly do we mean by dandy? A man who loves to wear clothes, a man who has a heightened sense of interest in grooming and style, a man for whom individuality must be expressed more clearly? Well dressed men abound but they need not be dandies. Dandyism is a lifestyle but we are here concerned primarily with clothes. However, there is an association between English dandyism and congregating around the Gentleman’s clubs and the more fashionable shopping areas of London. There are at least two types of English dandy or at least two levels. English dandyism as originally conceived of by Brummell was a denial of exciting plumage and a preoccupation with minuscule differences in cut, quality, fit and cleanliness for clothes and shoes. The other sort of dandy, the more modern dandy, is someone who uses clothes more for shock value (Although in his day, it is arguable that Brummell also sought to shock people with his “plainness”), to affect a trompe l’oeil or to pique the observer’s curiosity with a prolonged delay of what art critics call the resolution phase. The Brummellian dandy today would simply be referred to as a smart dresser and a solid man of manners. His kit excites no wonder, just an immediate symmetrical, eye pleasing canvass of everything well made, fitted and proper with just a dash of flair. The smart dresser wants you to notice the cut of his suit, the shape of his otherwise standard spread collar, the quality and knot of his tie, the suppleness of his black lace ups. This sort of man is clean, well groomed and, until noticed, invisible. By contrast, the modern dandy would use a lot of offbeat colors, textures, patterns and shapes to be acceptable but have some iconoclastic differences. Both individuality and eccentricity play a major role here; accented with the touch of an artist. This is why I often associate Salvador Dali as a prime example of modern dandyism. A dandy is more interested in the archaic which his why he would wear the Cartier crash watch while the smart dresser would instead wear a modern Patek. As of yet, no one has figured out whether being a smart dresser is a gateway to becoming a fully fledged dandy or if the two are separate but equal creatures. One thing is certain, they both love clothes. However, a dandy is allowed expressions the well dressed man is not. A dandy is allowed to get things perfectly while other Englishman are not. He is excused rather like the shaman the eccentricity and the fanaticism of clothes. He is also allowed to be more in touch with his feminine side because that side is acknowledged to be more concerned with matters of color, fit and luxury. Brummell stands for lack of imagination in color and fabric choice but a fanatically tasteful eye for details. But there are those that are concerned with color and texture and a bending if not a departure from Brummell’s rules. They will just do things better, pick things that others find tasteful but cannot choose themselves, and indeed dare not wear themselves. The dandy dares. However he does not pose, instead he wears something that is unquestionably himself but more flamboyant than the “chaps” would wear. And although he is perhaps idiosyncratic and eclectic, his clothes are recognized as in good taste and undeniably English.
Two questions. First: Does the English Dandy "congregating around the Gentleman’s clubs and the more fashionable shopping areas of London" still exist today? In my limited experience living in England, I can think of one friend who was a member of that set and also a potential dandy. But I don't spend any time there now, so I have no idea what is prevalent among adults. Second: Please discuss this kind of dandyism, as you defined it, and sexual orientation.
"a lot of offbeat colors, textures, patterns and shapes to be acceptable but have some iconoclastic differences. Both individuality and eccentricity play a major role here; accented with the touch of an artist. This is why I often associate Salvador Dali as a prime example of modern dandyism."
In my observation, outside of the entertainment industry, I see few people who fit that description that are not also gay (albeit occasionally undeclared). Do you see a connection?
 

Film Noir Buff

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Originally Posted by dopey
Two questions. First: Does the English Dandy "congregating around the Gentleman's clubs and the more fashionable shopping areas of London" still exist today? In my limited experience living in England, I can think of one friend who was a member of that set and also a potential dandy. But I don't spend any time there now, so I have no idea what is prevalent among adults.
It's rare. I am trying to figure it out as much as anyone else
Originally Posted by dopey
Second: Please discuss this kind of dandyism, as you defined it, and sexual orientation. In my observation, outside of the entertainment industry, I see few people who fit that description that are not also gay (albeit occasionally undeclared). Do you see a connection?
OK. I suppose I do, depends on one's visualization of dandy. Some people would definitely associate dandy with the more theatrical set. I believe I am speaking more of degrees of smartness and attention to detail than outright, purposeful flamboyance. But I have no data to assume that any one sexual orientation dominates dandyism more than any other.
 

dopey

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Originally Posted by Film Noir Buff
It's rare. I am trying to figure it out as much as anyone else




OK. I suppose I do, depends on one's visualization of dandy. Some people would definitely associate dandy with the more theatrical set. I believe I am speaking more of degrees of smartness and attention to detail than outright, purposeful flamboyance. But I have no data to assume that any one sexual orientation dominates dandyism more than any other.


You come up with multiple definitions of dandyism. At least I think you do. I was asking about one kind. If I understood your original post (and I probably didn't), the clarification you just made actually refers to a different kind that you identify.
 

Film Noir Buff

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Originally Posted by dopey
You come up with multiple definitions of dandyism. At least I think you do. I was asking about one kind. If I understood your original post (and I probably didn't), the clarification you just made actually refers to a different kind that you identify.
Well it's like trying to classify different types of anything really; one has to ask are you looking at a new species or a one off mutation? that's right, I accept that a lot of people associate dandyism with a sort of flamboyance and exaggerated retroism which may be a pose for some gay people but I think this is an image which mainstream men who dont want to fuss over clothes assign to a look to justify writing it off. I dont know if it is addressing your question directly but think of dandyism as a sliding scale which applies to the different ways a man can dress The Brummelian dandy is concern with the very simplest of basic clothes. There was a reason that Brummell did it in his day but it survives to an extent on American politicians. For instance, when people react to my rabbit vest, some will inevitably dislike it. But like or dislike it evokes a reaction; partially because it is a reflection of the wearer. In a democracy, we are trained to react to the personal and sometimes automatically revile it as self-indulgent. Politicians want no reactions, so they pick the blandest, lowest risk clothes which give zero indication of personality. In one respects that's Brummell, except that it cannot be completely because Brummell did not want to pander to the masses. Thus, it is Brummellian more by default than design. Irrespective, if it is done poorly enough the effect is more of the people and if it done smartly enough it is well dressed, when the indulgences are invisible like say 100% cashmere charcoal solid for the single breasted 2 button suit, a detail no one but the wearer may know about, it is closer to dandy.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by Film Noir Buff
For instance, when people react to my rabbit vest, some will inevitably dislike it. But like or dislike it evokes a reaction; partially because it is a reflection of the wearer. In a democracy, we are trained to react to the personal and sometimes automatically revile it as self-indulgent.

I would put this a bit differently.

The reason people react negatively is not because the rabbit vest/tie are "personal." That alone is not enough. It is the childishness of it, the sad element of fantasy that a grown man would spend that kind of money, and invest that amount of time, to reinforce an Internet persona.

For all your talk about how so many of us (me above all) take the Internet too seriously, you are the only one who has gone to these astounding lengths.

When I was seven I dressed up as Han Solo. When I was seven.
 

Tarmac

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If there were some pics, I might read all that shit
 

Film Noir Buff

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There will be those items for instance that are very traditional in England, like odd waistcoats (vests to Americans) but whereas many will not wear vests, some will wear conservative vests, good dressers will wear natty ones and dandies will wear attention fetching, compelling ones, the vests that everyone would like to wear themselves but feel they aren't quite up to snuff, confidence-wise, to do so. There are also those vests that most Englishmen would never wear (confidence or no) but nevertheless regard the one they observe on another as acceptable, if flamboyant, and English. As opposed to say, flamboyant and Hungarian.

An important distinction exists between dandy and fool, a dandy looks secure in his clothes. But, again, what is a dandy? As a self-assured individualist, he may be like the fool in King Lear who is actually the cleverest of them all, not to mention one of the few survivors.

A dandy is something that may occur in nature, like a shaman or a medicine-man. He may distract you with superficiality but there are deeper thoughts going on there, and they may not be at all sinister. He is the sartorial free mason, the clothing libertarian, an individual. He helps to prop up the establishment but also to herald change if a regime is unfair or tyrannical; above all, a dandy loves freedom, freedom of expression or of lifestyle and therefore is at odds with oppression. He will therefore parody the establishment if he feels it tends to smother.

The English do understand the dandyism both of details and of a bit more color and dash, after all they do not like if someone is wearing the same thing as they are and this holds true for all of them whether they shop at Marks and Spencer or get their things on Jermyn street and Savile Row. Even the more flamboyant English dressers who are not dandies take the details of cut and quality as a given; they want clothes to express who they are.

With regard to English dandyism, one thing that distinguishes an English dandy from a well dressed Englishman, and from every other culture's dandy, is the attitude towards both the cut of a suit and the shape of a shoe. Dandies from different countries may not associate the shape of a shoe or the cut of a suit as a way to define themselves, choosing instead certain colors or fabrics. And while cut, shape and detail are paramount in England (They trump color and texture) for both the mainstream well dressed man and the dandy, the dandy will choose different cuts and shapes.



A dandy may get in touch with his feminine side, so to speak. An appreciation for luxury and quality and a deeper sense of texture, color and pattern and the roles they can play together or apart. Getting in touch with the feminine side without being feminine is what sets the true English dandy apart from the fop. How can an eye for quality and color that can still resist bottomless self indulgence be expressed?
 

LarsC

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Originally Posted by Manton
I would put this a bit differently.

The reason people react negatively is not because the rabbit vest/tie are "personal." That alone is not enough. It is the childishness of it, the sad element of fantasy that a grown man would spend that kind of money, and invest that amount of time, to reinforce an Internet persona.

For all your talk about how so many of us (me above all) take the Internet too seriously, you are the only one who has gone to these astounding lengths.

When I was seven I dressed up as Han Solo. When I was seven.


You are only showing that your world is limited to two internet forums. And that is all.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by LarsC
You are only showing that your world is limited to two internet forums. And that is all.

Really, only one at this point. I do read a lot other sites, though, just no forums any more.
 

haganah

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Originally Posted by Tarmac
If there were some pics, I might read all that shit
I agree. FNB can you include pictures from now on? this is too much text.
 

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