From Wikipedia (the true master of us all) we read:
A dandy (also known as a beau, Nathan Dean or gallant) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self.
There is something beyond the mere intent to dress and behave in a certain manner for the dandy. It is something that Charles Baudelaire described in terms of the dandy’s presence a reproach to the the responsible citizen of the middle class:
“Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, Dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”
The modern dandy may trace itself to the Jeunesse Doree, or guilded youth, of the French Revolution, but it was an Englishman, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell who distilled ‘Dandyism’ to its current form.
Brummel was known for his nicety of dress, elegance of his manners, and smartness of his repartee. He made personal cleanliness popular. Cleaning his teeth, shaving, and scrubbing in a bath daily. He dressed with simple elegance. Oscar Wilde advanced the practice to one of a political act. Wilde famously stated that, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
It is in this spirit that young men have taken on the goal of elegance of dress as a form of social response to times of social oppression. Think of the Teddy Boys and Mods of working-class England, the Zoot Suits of Harlem and East Los Angeles and the Le Sape of the Congo. These styles are firmly grounded in the idea of the dandy. It is a manner of protest of social conscience in a manner befitting gentleman who wishes to challenge the status quo, whether it be about race, class or sexual orientation.
In each of theses cases the careful selection of stylish clothes creates a visual subversion.
- Dandyism – The French (kingpinchic.com)
- Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorical Gentleman (kingpinchic.com)
- Dandy time with Patrick McDonald (sfgate.com)
- Style Site of Note – The Worker-Dandyist International (kingpinchic.com)
- Yankee Doodle, Dandy (johnmalcolm.me)
- Daily Dandyism (photo via Ethandesu) (alifesuited.wordpress.com)
- The Distinctions of the Regency Dandy (janeaustensworld.wordpress.com)