Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1811 English dandy
Subject: 'jack-a-dandy' gentleman / aristocrat
Culture: English
Setting: Regency / later Georgian period, England early 19thc
Evolution: ... > 1763 Georgian Engl. gentleman > 1811 English dandy 

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Yarwood 1992 p83
"The years 1800-1830 were those which established the English gentleman as the best-dressed and best-mannered in Europe.  The noted English elegants of those years, imperturbable, ironic, graceful, were models for aristocratic bearing and behaviour.  Best known of these dandies was George Bryan Brummell (1778-1840).  Reputed since his youth as extremely fastidious in dress, he deeply impressed the Prince Regent who sponsored him to become a leading light in Brighton society.  However, there was nothing flamboyant about his dress.  'Beau' Brummell wore garments in subtly coloured fabrics with a minimum of decoration but these were superbly cut and made.  Typical was his blue tail coat with brass buttons worn over a fawn waistcoat accompanied by light-coloured buckskin pantaloons and elegant black boots.  For evening wear his waistcoat was white and pantaloons of blue stockinet strapped over black slippers.  He certainly helped to popularize the wearing of trousers instead of knee breeches."

* Manchester Art Gallery > Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men's Fashion
"Beginning with the example of the Regency socialite Beau Brummell around 1800, the term dandy has come to define a range of contrasting, always rather mannered, male styles: from tailored simplicity to flamboyant embellishment." ....

* Fashion 2018 p635
"Dandy   Term used from the early nineteenth century onwards, for men who were deeply concerned about the smartness of their clothes and appearance."


* Yarwood 1992 p86
"The top hat had been introduced in the early years of the century but did not finally oust the tall felt English hat from fashion until about 1820.  After this it became the nineteenth century hat, worn on all occasions and, strange as it seems today, by all classes of the population.  The shape of the top hat varied over the years though.  At this time it had curved sides, an upswept brim and was not overly tall."

* Laver 2020 p154
"Top hats of some form were worn at all times of the day, but the correct hat for evening was the bicorne, in the shape of a crescent, the two brims being pressed against one another, which enabled the hat to be carried under the arm.  Hair was short, and it was the fashion to wear it somewhat disheveled à la Titus."


* Laver 2020 p154
​"The dandy was shown not only by the cut of his clothes and the snugness of his breeches but by the elaboration of his neckwear.  The collar of teh shirt was worn upright; the two points projected on to the cheeks and were kept in place by a neckcloth, either in the form of a cravat or a stock.  Some dandies were alleged to spend a whole morning in the arrangement of their cravats.  Largers squares of lawn, muslin or silk, folded cornerwise into a band, were wrapped round the neck and tied in a knot or bow in front.  There is the well-known story of a caller visiting Brummell in the middle of the morning and finding his valet arranging his cravat.   On the floor was a large heap of discarded cravats, and when the visitor inquired what they were, the valet replied, 'sir, those are our failures.'  The stock was a made-up, stiffened neckband, buckled behind.  Since the wearing of either a cravat or a stock made it difficult, if not impossible, to turn or lower the head, it contributed in no small degree to the dandy's imperturbability and hauteur."

* Yarwood 1992 p86
"In men's linen, collars were attached to the shirt and, in the early years especially, were turned upwards to cover part of the cheekbone.  The white silk or linen cravat could be tied in various ways.  Sometimes a black satin cravat was wound round on top of the white one making the neckwear appear somewhat bulky."


* Laver 2020 p151-154
"... London tailors [were] trained to work in wool broadcloth.  Such cloth, unlike light silk and other flimsy materials, can be stretched and moulded to the body.  The clothes of the eighteenth-century aristocrat were in general very badly made and did not fit at all snugly to the body.  Such snug fitting was the very essence of dandyism, and George Brummell prided himself on the fact that his clothes did not show a single wrinkle and that his breeches fitted his legs like a natural skin.  Dandyism does not imply gorgeousness in male attire; the exact opposite is the case.  There was no embroidery on the dandy's coat; it was made of plain cloth, with the cut-away originally derived from the hunting coat, and with a preference for the primary colours.  Brummell's coat was invariably dark blue, but it was usual to wear waistcoat and breeches of a different colour; for example, a crimson waistcoat and sage-green breeches with a black coat.  The collar, which stood rather high at the back of the neck, was sometimes of velvet.  Waistcoats were in general short and square-cut, with perhaps a couple of inches showing below the front parts of the coat.  The upper buttons were left undone to display the frill of the shirt.  In court dress the waistcoat was of white satin embroidered with gold thread.
    "In the daytime it was usual to wear tight-fitting breeches fitted into riding boots, but in the evening silk stockings were worn with pumps.  Some men wore pantaloons or tights with tasselled hessians.  Trousers were also worn, but, although close-fitting, did not show the shape of the leg and ended above the ankles.  Very wide trousers à la Turque were also worn, with an anticipation of the wide trousers which were later to be called 'Cossacks'."

* Yarwood 1992 p84-86
"The typical pantaloons of the early nineteenth century were usually made from an elastic-type of material such as stockinet or soft doeskin.  They were light in colour: white, lemon, beige or grey were preferred.  Also fashionable were those cut from a nankeen fabric which was a strong cotton imported from Nanking in China.  Early pantaloons were leg-hugging, extending to just below the calf and worn inside tall boots.  Gradually these were worn longer so that by 1817-18 they reached down to the ankles where they were fastened by buttons or a buckle.  By 1820 they were still fitting but were longer still and were strapped under the instep to hold them down.
    "The tail coat had become de rigueur in these years.  Two styles predominated at this time.  One was double-breasted, cut away square in front at waist level and descended at the back to knee-level tails.  The other was single-breasted then was cut away, curving snugly round the hips to shorter, rounded tails at the rear.  The cut and style or these coats altered gradually but significantly over these three decades.  In the early years coat collars were high, boned up to the ears, lapels were large, body and sleeves were fitting.  As time passed sleeves became fuller, especially on the upper arm and the material was pleated or gathered at the shoulder into the armhole.  The collar became lower and simpler; a shawl design became fashionable.  Coats were very waisted -- corsets were adopted by many men in order to achieve the desired silhouette -- but, in contrast, were padded on the chest and hips to accentuate this.  Materials were becoming heavier, usually wool or cloth, and colours were darker browns, greens or blues.
    "Waistcoats followed the line of the coat.  They were white or light in colour and might be striped or spotted in pattern.
    "There were three chief styles of overcoat.  The dress mode for town wear was still the redingote.  Usually double-breasted this was waisted with knee-length flared skirts.  The cold weather travelling design was the long, voluminous Garrick which had collar, cuffs and several shoulder capes.  The third style was derived from military dress in eastern Europe.  It had a high or stand-up collar and across the chest in rows were braided and frogged button fastenings.  A new material was introduced at this time.  This was a waterproof fabric deriving from the researches of a Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh who cemented two layers of rubber together with naphtha between and incorporated this into woollen travel coats.
    "Prior to the nineteenth century there had been no particular form of dress for evening to differentiate it from day wear; it was simply a richer, more colourful and ornamented version.  By 1820, though, the evening attire in black was being introduced.  It consisted of an elegantly cut slim version of day-time pantaloons and tail coats worn with a white or coloured waistcoat."

* Manchester Art Gallery > Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men's Fashion
"The simple tailored woollen frockcoat worn for outdoor dress from the 1760s was adopted widely for fashion from 1800 as advocated by Beau Brummell (1778-1840).  he was an important figure in 19th century society and has been seen to personify the first dandy by undermining an aristocratic love of conspicuous consumption and embellishment.  His ideals, exemplified in his appearance and manners, stressed instead personal elegance, neatness, meticulous care and cleanliness, the qualities and ideals to which the modern urban dandy aspires.
    "After Brummell's example, decoration and display declined during the 19th century as black and navy represented sobriety and respectability.  Society commentators even asked why men wanted to dress as if going to a funeral.  Alongside this increasing plainness in men's clothing, tailoring, particularly in London, developed rapidly from around 1800 to facilitate a better fit with a more precise cut."  [....]

* Cole/Lambert 2021 p33-34
"As the London tailoring trade developed from 1800 onwards, significant improvements in cut were regularly adopted to improve the fit.  A narrow horizontal panel just above the waist seam became a usual feature of coats sometime around 1820.  Some five years later a separate narrow vertical strip was attached for buttons and holes either side of the front openings, and 'side bodies', or insertions, and smoother sleeve tops were developed during the 1830s."

* Laver 2020 p154-157
"Brummell's dress had always been of stolid sobriety, but after his departure in 1819 (he fled to the Continent to escape his creditors) the clothes of the dandies, or those who thought themselves such, began to develop all kinds of extravagances.  The top hat swelled out at the top until its crown was wider than the brim, the visible ends of the shirt collar came up almost to the eyes, the stock or cravat grew tighter and higher, the shoulders of the coat were padded and the waist nipped in with the aid of a corset.  Trousers had now become almost universal, either ending just above the half-boots or strapped under the instep.  The caricaturists made merry with this new mode, for example in Cruikshank's Monstrosities of 1822."


* Yarwood 1992 p87
"With the early style of fitted pantaloons fob watches were fashionable, each depending from a ribbon or strap just below the waist on each side.  Often only one watch was genuine, the other was a dummy known as a fausse montre."


* Laver 2020 p154
"The wearing of swords had been entirely abandoned, but it was fashionable to carry a cane; indeed, no well-dressed man was ever seen in the street without one."

* Yarwood 1992 p87
"A cane would normally be carried out-of-doors by gentlemen."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Sword-stick (1927.45.3)
"After the French Revolution in 1789 it was thought suspicious to carry weapons in peacetime. . Men began to carry walking-canes instead of swords as a gentlemanly symbol. However, since an official police force was not founded in England until 1829, there was still a need to protect oneself or one's companion on the street. The sword stick provided an ingenious solution; a bladeless, thrusting rapier concealed in an inconspicuous walking-cane."

* Fryer 1969 p80
"Sword Stick  A walking stick in which a sword blade is concealed.  The handle of the stick acts as the hilt and often a press-button release is fitted.  In recent times blades have been fitted in officers' batons and umbrellas."