On dressing well

smart chap with his wife 1880

Fashion is something that of course is a matter of taste.

We have casual and of course formal.

Sadly in the last few years fashion for the masses seems to have been provided by faux Sports shops (I tried to buy some shorts in the one last year to be told they don’t sell them in the winter!) providing ‘supposed’ fashionable sports clothes. Sports clothes are comfortable and great for sports…clearly the overriding point of them although maybe this has been missed!

A gentleman should always be so well dressed that his dress shall never be observed at all. Does this sound like an enigma? It is not meant for one. It only implies that perfect simplicity is perfect elegance, and that the true test of taste in the toilette of a gentleman is its entire harmony, unobtrusiveness and becomingness. If any friend should say to ” you, What a handsome waistcoat you have on !” you may depend, that a less handsome waistcoat would be in better taste. If you hear it said that Mr. So-and-So wears superb jewellery, you may conclude beforehand that he wears too much. Display, in short, is ever to be avoided, especially in matters of dress. The toilette is the domain of the fair sex. Let a wise man leave its graces and luxuries to his wife, daughters or sisters, and seek to be himself appreciated for something of higher worth than the embroidery upon his shirt front, or the trinkets on his chain. To be too much in the fashion is as vulgar as to be too far Behind it, No really well-bred row follow every near cut that he sees in his tailor’s fashion-book. Only very young men, and those not of the most aristocratic circles, are guilty of this folly.

Some sound advice from Routledges Manual of Etiquette, it seems like the old phrase ‘less is more’ holds true.

The author of ” Pelham” has aptly said that a gentleman’s coat should not fit too well. There is great truth and subtlety in this observation. To be fitted too well is to look like a tailor’s assistant. This is the great fault which we have to find in the style of even the best bred Frenchmen. They look as if they had just stepped out of a fashion-book, and lack the careless ease which makes an English gentleman look as if his clothes belonged to him, and not he to his clothes.

Our clothes are an important part of our appearance but I would maintain that they need to help bring our personality to the fore, to enhance it and not something to do ourselves a disservice because of cliché and media.

Muffin Tops...an affront to humanity!

The same goes for the Ladies…the so called ‘muffin top’ was an affront to all humanity, for those who don’t know or haven’t seen it the “muffin top” is a generally slang term used to describe the scary phenomenon of overhanging fat when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirts in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing.

So we all need to take some care when choosing the correct attire.

This is the fashion conscious Victorians take on clothes for an average day.

In the morning wear frock coats, double-breasted waistcoats, and trousers of light or dark colours, according to the season. In the evening, though only in the bosom of your own family, wear only black, and be as scrupulous to put on a dress coat as if you expected visitors. If you have sons, bring them up to do the same. It is the observance of these minor trifles in domestic etiquette which marks the true gentleman. For evening parties, dinner parties, and balls, wear a black dress coat, black trousers, black silk or cloth waistcoat, white cravat, white or grey kid gloves, and thin patent leather boots. A black cravat may be worn in full dress, but is not so elegant as a white one. A black velvet waistcoat should only be worn at a dinner party.

Fairly busy and of course you would have to be a man of independent means to be able to afford all these clothes. Of course we all have accessories:

Let your jewellery be of the best, but the least gaudy description, and wear it very sparingly. A set of good studs, a gold watch and guard, and one handsome ring, are as many ornaments as a gentleman can wear with propriety. In the morning let your ring be a seal ring, with your crest or arms engraved upon it. In the evening it may be a diamond. Your studs, however valuable, should be small. It is well to remember in the choice of jewellery that mere costliness is not always the test of value ; and that an exquisite work of art, such as a fine cameo, or a natural rarity, such as a black pearl, is a more distinctive possession than a large brilliant which any rich and tasteless vulgarian can buy as easily as yourself. For a ring, the gentleman of fine taste would prefer a precious antique intaglio to the handsomest diamond or ruby that could be brought at Hunt and Roskell’s. The most elegant gentleman with whom the author was ever acquainted a man familiar with all the Courts of Europe never wore any other shirt-studs in full dress than three Tableaux black pearls, each about the size of a pea, and by no means beautiful to look at.

Rings of course are still very fashionable, and although marriage has been on the decline the wedding ring is the most common of accessories worn by men. I wear my wedding ring and my departed mothers gold band she had for her second marriage, in remembrance of her.

Of all precious stones, the opal is one of the most lovely and the least common-place. No vulgar man purchases an opal. lie invariably prefers the more showy diamond, ruby, sapphire, or emerald. Unless you are a snuff-taker, never carry any but a white pocket-handkerchief. If in the morning you wear a long cravat fastened by a pin, be careful to avoid what may be called alliteration of colour.

Fashionable Victorian snuff-box

Snuff…something that is still freely available if you can find somewhere to purchase it. Snuff is made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is an example of smokeless tobacco. It originated in the Americas and was in common use in Europe by the 17th century.

According to the Evening Standard ‘because of the ban on smoking in pubs in most European Union countries, the practice of snuff taking has increased somewhat’ but I can’t say I have ever seen anyone taking it or a pub selling it so seems a little unlikely really.

Snuff can cause cancer of the nose and heart disease, and of course is just as addictive because of the nicotine.

Never wear a cap, unless in the fields or garden ; and let your hat be always black. For a gentleman’s wedding dress see the ” ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE. ”

A cap? I guess they mean flat hat…why on earth would you want to wear one anyway!

If your sight compels you to wear spectacles,

Mine does…I it in front a pc monitor as many millions now do.

let them be of the best and lightest make, and mounted in gold or blue steel. If you suffer from weak sight, and are obliged to wear coloured glasses, let them be of blue or smoke colour. Green are detestable.

So smoked glass improves your eyesight.

Never be seen in the street without gloves ; and never let your gloves be of any material that is not kid or calf. Worsted or cotton gloves are unutterably vulgar. Your  loves should fit to the last degree of perfection.

Always buy new gloves never use hand me downs!!

In these days of public baths and universal progress, we trust that it is unnecessary to do more than hint at the necessity of the most fastidious personal cleanliness. The hair, the teeth, the nails, should be faultlessly kept ; and a soiled shirt, dingy pocket-handkerchief, or a light waistcoat that has been worn once too often, are things to be scrupulously avoided by any man who is ambitious of preserving the exterior of a gentleman.

Quite right too…no one wants to speak to you for too long if you breath smells of a dog wind or your armpits smell like a pigs groin. Cleanliness in next to Godliness as the saying goes…lets all bear that in mind.


2 thoughts on “On dressing well

  1. I’m reading a book of fashion in the early 1960’s – and crochet and embroidered gloves were also considered ‘inelegant’. But I have a pair of ecru crochet gloves of my mother’s and they are surpassing lovely!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s