Our clothes are too much a part of us for most of us ever to be entirely indifferent to their condition: it is as though the fabric were indeed a natural extension of the body, or even of the soul. ~Quentin Bell
It is easy for us to limit clothing and dress to a rudimentary and perfunctory role in our present society, given our general acceptance of consumerism for consumptions sake. “I want it now and I want it cheap!” we cry and in turn, so goes our soul. The Dandy is oft maligned as a popinjay; something that is mere flash and distraction. I would argue that the Dandy is instead the canary of the collective mineshaft of humanity, bearing the inner desires and hopes literally upon his sleeve. The stoic Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote of this connection,
Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.
In truly knowing himself a man becomes a gentleman and presents himself to the world, to intimates and strangers alike, in the manner of dress that signals that he has attained this enlightenment of self. As Coco Chanel put it,
Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart.
As you begin, or indeed continue, your inner journey of style and soul you must also brave your unexamined consumption of the mediocre through conscious and conscientious dress. To steel yourself let the words of writer Princess Elizabeth Bibesco reverberate in your soul,
You don’t have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won’t hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word.
- The Dandy – A Manifesto (kingpinchic.com)
Article first published as The Spirituality of Dress and The Dandy on Technorati.