Bringing back dandy culture from the 18th century

Bringing back dandy culture from the 18th century

The phenomenon of dandyism

Dandyism aesthetes a fashion procedure and lifestyle that had its acme during the 18 th and 19 th centuries. Becoming deliberately self-referential with a high degree of importance on physical appearance, staying

fashionable, well-groomed and over the top dressed up. Dandies were extremely conscious of how they were perceived by society, distilling their mannerism, body language, and voice to maintain a nonchalant demeanour. They strived to become more aristocratic than their stature with their terminology, lifestyle, and values of dressing impeccably. Dandy culture included designers, writers, poets, artists, and fashion icons. An Irish poet and author Oscar Wilde was a well-known dandy of the late 18th century. He profoundly quoted “ one should either be a work of Art or wear a work of Art”. Dandy culture was a symbol of gigantic clichè to satirize a man influencing an exaggerated fastidiousness in dress, speech, and very detailed about what is aesthetically ‘good form’ hence lengthened to an exquisite, a dandy, a projection.

Dandy was and is rather a fashion curator who embezzles the very belief of fashion. And, in doing so, he clashes with the very world that has restricted and controlled his aesthetic inventiveness. Fashion has not killed him, it has anaesthetized him to decrease him into proportions that are no longer individualistic and egocentric, but of
common collective deliberation. We call them artistic rebels of the olden era, talented eccentric individuals who created their own cult by raising creativity through exaggeration.

Crazy trends of dandyism

George Bryan “Beau” Brummell was a significant figure in Great Britain, the arbiter of men’s fashion. Rumours had it that at some point during his self-obsessed beauty routine, Beau Brummell adored having milk baths to make his skin softer and whiter, but the milk he used was frequently sold back into the local markets. Since Londoners didn’t

expect to consume that milk, they became exceedingly cautious from who they bought their milk. They preferred to get it delivered straight from village milk farmers to avoid questioning their delicious liquid.

There were a whole lot of bizarre and outlandish incidents about the dandies and their appearances. British illustrator George Cruikshank, whose caricatures of the eccentricity of fashion icons and their fashion trends are recognised as the best in the world. They orchestrate strange and over-the-top characteristics of clothing manias which fetched much more attention.

Fake muscles and inner wears


The accessories which got fake paddings on the name of inner shapers are still doing rounds through fashion brands in their hybrid versions. Originated from dandy’s inner wears, equipped with special padding enhancing muscles, shoulders, shins, buttocks, and chest or thighs. Even women were embarrassed to use such a wide arsenal of

manoeuvres to enhance their figures. But today brands like Balmain, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balenciaga, and Alexander Mcqueen are well established and recognised for their signature silhouettes of exaggerations. Contemporary designs mixed with the drop of dandyism and we got some of our most celebrated couture pieces trending online.

Male corsets

Georges’s caricatures of men’s corsets assure the trend being legit during the 19 th century. It stirred up most of the aristocrats under the shock for its weirdness. But just like skinny people preferred using padded underwear, the other body types broke the stigma of corsets being feminine garments, They were often used to look leaner and

slandered by dandies of the large size. In contemporary fashion, it might be considered an androgynous sense of styling. But ancient fashion experts considered it in the category of dandy fashion.

Oversized lofty collars and neckties

High collars were so high that sometimes they covered the ears of men. They were concealed with starched paper frames and whalebone wires. Cravats were strongly starched to achieve lift and firmness. There was even a story about a dandy cutting his skin on the neck by the edge of his neckerchief. Overly dramatic versions of old classic style were rooted in dandy fashion. Bigger, bolder and louder was the anthem of culture along with the bunch of perfectionists of fashion. Post pandemic we kind of started living in rebound fashion moments, dopamine boost and

dramatic silhouettes have returned back this season. And it seems so dandy in relieving back from history.


Skin tight breeches

Tight breeches were one the most elaborated style of trousers. And dandy loved it from the several widespread of pants. Extremely fitted breeches which looked more like spandex of recent times accentuated each curve and made it liquid like a second skin. Bulky guys ended up looking awful in these bottoms but the culture accepted the odds as long as one had the confidence to pull it through. Something which is segregated from activewear had a moment of vogue in the 19 th century.

A la cossack

This style got through the 18th-century dandy fashion, where baggy pants were something like wide trousers came into London with the Russian tsar and his military troops. Those men wore wide trousers and they called them “Cossack”. Today they have been used as oversized clothing and the trend of oversized baggy clothes is far from

leaving the fashion era.

The most popular dandies gave us the revolutionary history of the fashion culture which was close to being a perfectionist but many took it to the edge of an anomalous and free- spirited way of making a mark. Dandy fashion rose post-French revolution in France and around the same time in Spain and Latin America. Towards the end of the 19th century, dandies were addressed as “Dudes” in America. Known name list has public figures such as Julias Caesar, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell, Oscar Wilde, Lucius Sergius Catalina, Russell Brand, Alcibiades, Andy Warhol, Andre 3000, a most popular quote by Charles Baudelaire says — “ Dandyism is more even, as many unthinking people seem to suppose, an immoderate interest in personal appearance and material elegance. For the true dandy, these things are only a symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his personality”.

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Author: Shirley