“If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed.”
The above quote is attributed to George Bryan “Beau” Brummell, and he wasn’t being ironic. Brummell was the trendsetter and undisputed master of the perfect tailoring and simplicity of understated style which became a hallmark of the fashionable Regency Era gentleman. He was, in every way, the King of the Dandies.
Wait, you may be thinking, isn’t a “dandy” the exact opposite of understated?
Indeed, while the term wasn’t supposed to refer to ostentatious style, it frequently is and was applied as a form of ridicule, as hilariously noted in the following poem and illustrations. Enjoy these bits of Regency humor!
This poem is from the 1820 publication of La Belle Assemblée: or, Court and fashionable magazine; containing interesting and original literature, and records of the beau-monde.
FROM A DIDACTICAL SKETCH RECENTLY PUBLISHED, ENTITLED ” FASHION.
AT length a thing of whalebone, buckram, starch,
With mincing gait, half tip-toe dance, half march,
Unlike to woman, more unlike to man—
A thing ne’er heard of since the world began,
Till lately in the realm of Fashion found.
Adoring self with reverence profound:
Since of its gender doubtful signs were shewn,
Its species e’en to naturalists unknown,
“Scorn’d by one sex, rejected by the other,
Its very sister laugh’d to call it brother;”
The languid looks this non-descript put on,
Its Gallic accent and its tender tone,
Its novel carriage—figure—raiment—feature,
Procur’d it notice—’twas so strange a creature.
Almeira saw it shining at a fete,
And deem’d ‘twould make her a convenient mate;
It thought the nymph a kindred soil, and seem’d
As—next to self— the damsel it esteem’d,—
They spoke! embrac’d! and—all due matters carried—
The loveless pair in Christian mode were married.