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A Couple of Dandy Gentlemen

By Edited May 26, 2015 2 4

A Pretty Pair of Popinjay's

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
Oscar Wilde

Beau Brummell, was rather a famous fellow for setting the standard for men's fashion in Regency England. Brummell was also a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, who was a deal older than Brummell and well up the social scale, but Brummell's evident fashion, etiquette and wit, provided his ticket into the highest circles.

 In  1794, Brummells's father died, leaving his dear boy more than £20,000, which prompted Brummell to take a house on Chesterfield Street in Mayfair, a neighbourhood of the highest distinction and high times were to come.

My Gad!

Dandy gentleman
Quite outrageously, Brummell brushed his teeth everyday as well as bathed, which was quite outré in the Regency period. When asked how much it cost to keep a single man in clothes, Brummell is said to have replied "Why, with tolerable economy, I think it might be done with £800." One must bear in mind, that at this time the average wage for a craftsman was £1 a week.

 This Fop Was A Flop


Caricature of Beau Brummell by Richard Dighton (1805).
Caricature of Beau Brummell by Richard Dighton (1805).

Unfortunately for Brummel, his not inconsiderate spending caught up with him, resulting in bankruptcy. Also his rather rapier wit was often aimed at the Prince Regent, which resulted in a rather first-rate falling out. Brummell had to flee to France, but luckily was able to secure an appointment as British consul in Caen, due to some friends in high places. However the formerly foppish fellow, lost his interest in clothes and bathing and was later taken to the hospital in Caen for the insane, where he died penniless and not feeling quite the thing.

A Peacok To Be Sure

Oscar Wilde

Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony

Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony

Oscar Wilde was a rather an aesthetic and decadent man-about-town, who possessed a humdinger of a talent. While at university he wore his hair long and scorned most "manly" sports. He decorated his rooms with objets d'art and peacock feathers, and conducted lavish entertainments. Known for his flamboyant outfits and his penchant for sayings like ‘do you yearn?’ or ‘just too too,’ Wilde was quite the quiz. While many of his critics mocked his languid posing and spiffing ensembles, he was without doubt a stellar intellectual with a ripping wit.

 The Dramatic Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde wrote many successful plays like: An Ideal Hus
Oscar Wilde(97470)
band. The name of this play is ironical, when it is considered that his wife Constance Lloyd, who he married in 1884, would have found him far from 'ideal', as he was in fact leading a rather secret life, which was to be his downfall. Wilde on the one side was a fashionable and famous, foppish gallant and on the other, he was quite involved with the Victorian underground and led a homosexual life, unknown to his wife, which was a criminal offence at the time. 
Life went rapidly downhill for Wilde and indeed his whole family, when he became embroiled in a court case with the Marquess of Queensberry. The  case became a major cause célèbre and left Wilde bankrupt. Crazily Wilde was imprisoned, first in Pentonville and then Wandsworth Prison in London for the crime of 'The love that dare not speak its name'. Later when he was released, he left for the continent and died penniless in exile.
Such dastardly ends for such first-rate fellows.
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May 6, 2012 7:21am
A great 'Dandyman' article! I love the opening Oscar Wilde quote.
May 6, 2012 2:01pm
Brummell NEVER tipped his hat to women in the street (as was a customary courtesy gesture of the era) because he had spent so much time in a mirror positioningg it in what he believed was the perfect rakish angle. Metrosexual men are not new, and they can be just as annoying now as back when. Good article. A thumb.
May 6, 2012 5:28pm
Brummell sounds like a lethal fellow. with a devastating wit.
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