Modern Glamor and Classic Dandyism

How does modern glamor equate with classic dandyism? 

 A modern Glamor Dandy": Notice the make-up, contrasting colors and fancy hair.

A young Oscar Wilde: The image is sepia, so no color analysis is possible, but the flamboyant outfit speaks for itself .


Sebastian Horsely: Notice the exaggeration of everything. Huge top hat, huge collar, oversize tie, bright clashing colors.

 Lord Whimsy The Affected Provincial: A cross between glamor and dandy[notice his love  of color].

 Andrea Sperelli: A modern dandy; if you only saw him for a second, you'd notice he was well dressed, but could you tell me the color and style of his tie after looking away?

The idea of a glamor is somewhat inextricably associated with dandyism, especially after the influence of such characters as Oscar Wilde and the Count de Montesquieu. The idea of the dandy being especially fancy, and wearing bright colors, and fancy accessories  is very much cemented in the popular imagination on the subject of dandyism. But the dandy of history, the true dandy, is really not fancy.

George "Beau" Brummel who started the movement was himself the opposite of fancy. He broke with the then popular baroque style of dress  and clothed himself in clean, simple lines, used muslin cloth instead of lace, and well fitted fabrics instead of  flamboyant colors and decoration; his legacy is one,  of clean elegant simplicity.

The next generation of dandies [or those who admired the trend and followed along] were not so careful. The count d'Orsay was very elegant, and only rarely fancy, but by the time we get to the Count de Montesquieu and Oscar Wilde, foppery has returned.  The trend of fancy dress and "dandyism" was fast becoming legend. This became the struggle of the dandy and the aesthete through out the end of the 19th century and early 20th. The aesthetes dressed in fancy outfits expressing their creativity and polite revolt, the dandies dressed elegantly and simply expressing their desire for high society, and each condemned the other.

The more modern tendency in "glam" is to wear black [a trend popular in the Gothic sub-culture which favors black as a sort of Victorian throwback].  This also sometimes paired with red, or other contrasting color accessories to wear a shocking pink or other jewel tones, or to wear plaids with contrasting colors.         Now, none of these trends are intrinsically anti-dandy; it's the presentation.  The dandy is above all in search of elegance, so if he decides to wear black, red, or any other color it needs to be done with subtlety and taste. 

 Another  trend is to wear makeup and fancy hair styles; this trend is irreconcilable with the dandy. A dandy is above all a man, and his style is designed to compliment his masculine traits and swagger, all the while elevating them. Applying cosmetics is a feminine practice designed to highlight and add a visual allure [men being very visual creatures] to the face, this is not the way of the dandy who remains unmistakably masculine in his fashion.

Also popular among modernist ideas of dandyism is the exaggeration of traditional lines and styles. This is  taking what was the modest outfit of the gentleman and exaggerating some or several aspects in order to draw attention, or make it "original".

So how can a dandy stay modern and still be a dandy?  Well, this is a huge crossroads as in some ways the ideals of dandyism are at odds with the ideas which modernity seeks to promote. Modern fashion seeks to shock and be dramatic while the dandy seeks to impress and inspire; modesty and simplicity are his weapons. Basically fashion can be elegant if used in a balanced, modest fashion. If a man likes fancy patterns, use them, but don't accentuate them; let them be the decoration. You''ll notice in 18th century dress that when a fancy waistcoat was worn, the rest of the outfit tended to be monochrome [and that age was known for its flamboyance].  If a man likes strong jewel tones, follow the advise of the jeweler "less is more". Add a deep red handkerchief, or a yellow tie to your dark suit,  but let that be your only accent.  Any accent can be elegant as long as it doesn't grab the eye too much, and as long as it alone in creating the impression.

Finally remember the mantra of the dandy; elegance, subtlety- elegance subtlety: you can't go wrong if you remember that..