What is the true definition of a Dandy?
From its origins in early 19c regency England to present day pop stars like Kanye West, the word ‘dandy’ has been bandied around with equal parts respect and derision. However, fashion historians would argue that much of the negativity stems from ignorance of the true meaning of what it is to be ‘dandy’: “Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, 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 mind.” Charles Baudelaire.
What is interesting about the original dandies is that they had an agenda – to which Baudelaire subtly infers. The dandies were born middle class but had aristocratic aspirations. In a society where only the rich could afford expensive clothes, they were able to break through the social barriers through style, wit and charm.
Very little has changed in 200 years. We wear suits because they are the most elegant garment acceptable for day-to-day use, and we garnish our suits with colourful linings, pockets squares and personal embroidery – not out of vanity but out of pride… both personal and social. If you’re reading this article I’d wager there’s a little dandy in you too… and that’s nothing to be ashamed of!