Friday, 8 June 2018

To be truly elegant

"Starch makes the gentleman, etiquette the lady."

"Fashions come and go; bad taste is timeless."

"To be truly elegant one should not be noticed."

From The Rake:
Born in 1778, [Beau] Brummell is celebrated as the originator of dandyism. A very British reaction to the excessive continental fashions that dominated early Georgian London. It was here that young affluent males adopted flamboyant ‘Macaroni’ fashions picked up from visiting Italy and France as part of The Grand Tour – a coming-of-age trip undertaken by British nobility and the landed gentry from the 17th century onwards. They’d wear high, powdered wigs, make-up, perfume, elaborate and rare fabrics and silk stockings. They were the fops.

Brummell advocated and championed good tailoring, sombre fabrics, a limited colour palette, personal hygiene, starch and polish. He was to Regency London what we would now call an ‘influencer’, albeit with more class...

...Tying the perfect knot in your cravat was a skill and Brummell would discard his failures that were imperfect or, indeed, too perfect. With the benefit of modern technology, Brummell could have made an instructional video for YouTube or a live video on Instagram. The Regency equivalent was to allow gentlemen to watch you prepare for the day live from your dressing room. It is reputed that Brummell could take up to five hours whilst attending to his ‘toilet’, so I hope the events were catered.

The perfectly polished shoe is still a good sign of character and Brummell famously requested that his boots should be polished with Champagne. I have heard that some devoted polishers use this method to create the desired patina. But to put this into context, we should remember that Brummell was a contemporary of The Napoleonic war and to use France’s finest export for cleaning boots was perhaps a personal gesture of patriotism.
He was quite a character, was George - he got the name "Beau" at an early age for his meticulous attention to detail when dressing - courting attention wherever he went, he famously gained entry to the "inner circle" of the Prince of Wales, then spectacularly fell out of it again with a few choice remarks which upset the then Regent (soon to become George IV). In the meantime, he enthralled a nation, and forever defined the key elements of men's fashion to this day (the plain shirt, the tie, long trousers, black shoes).

An inspiration to fashionistas everywhere, it is no wonder there's a stutue to him on Jermyn Street (home of tailoring)...

George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (7th June 1778 – 30th March 1840)


  1. Fascinating! What a fantastic, fearless, and fashionable trendsetter! Definitely an icon!

    Normally, I associate high waist pants with elderly men and suspenders (and circus clowns!). But Brummell definitely pulls it off and looks sharp in his well poised statue.

    If I were his shoe polisher, I'd've swapped that champagne with a bottle filled with water to polish the boots, and drink the saved champagne later!

    1. "Once when Brummell was dining at a gentleman’s house in Hampshire, the champagne was far from good. Brummell waited for a pause in the conversation and then raised his glass and said, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, 'John, give me some more of that cider.'"



Please leave a message - I value your comments!