22 April 2009
The History of Dandy Fashion and How to Wear it Today
Dandys became a common sight on the streets of of London and Paris from the late 1700s to the early 1900s: a whole new breed of middle-class men who often strove to imitate the upper classes in the way of fashion and also leisure pursuits.
Dandys were flamboyant and stylish, with an air of old fashioned gentlemanly values. But Dandy fahion did not die out with the Victorians, nor is it strictly for men.
Charles Baudelaire (a French poet, critic and translator during the 1800s) explained that '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.' True Dandys simply used fashion to offer an outer view of who they truly felt they were inside.
It is, therefore, of little surprise that the Gothic and alternative community has created its own modern twist of Dandy fashions.
In almost every alternative clothing store you can find an entire range of fashions and accessories that can be easily turned into a Dandy outfit: top hats, shirts with ruffles and flared sleeves, waistcoats, but Dandyism is all about having that little extra flair; it's time to seek out those little extras to set yourself apart.
Creating a Dandy-inspired look is the perfect opportunity to start trawling through those vintage clothes shops and through the Antiques section of eBay. Pocket watches, lace and satin gloves, striking bowties and maybe even a monacle can be beautifully matched with a pair of New Rock boots.
But Dandy fashion does not allow your favourite pair of ripped jeans, or six year old trainers. Dandyism is all about elegance and hair that took 3 hours to style.
In the early 1800s, a female version of the Dandy started to emerge, with the same interest in aristocratic fashions, and these women were known as Dandyess' or Dandizettes. But as the 20th Century dawned, these women became known as Quaintrelles - a word which would not feel out of place in a list of Japanese street fashion terms.
But Dandy fashion gives girls a stunning androgynous look, which is easily turned between more feminine or more masculine. Simple twists like black netting tied around a top hat, or swapping a waistcoat for a fabulous under-bust corset can swing the look to the feminine, or simple straight lines with a figure hugging tailored jacket can bring it back to a more stylish masculine look.
Dandy fashions do crop up on the streets, and never fails to turn heads, with it's stylish elegance and glamourous eccentricity. Dandyism is all about taking that extra step with fashion; one extra ruffle, one extra bow, and with its versatility between masculine and feminine it's a great style to have fun with.
So the next time you wake up on a Monday morning, and drag the same old work suit or school uniform out of your wardrobe, try to be a little imaginative; it only takes a few little extras to turn an outfit around - smart doesn't always have to be dull.