The Rise of Fashion: A Reader

By Daniel Leonhard Purdy | Go to book overview

“The Dandy” from The Painter of Modern Life (1863)

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE

Dandies were nineteenth-century men famous for their appearance, often for little else. Nevertheless, their dress and their clever statements set them at the center of fashionable society, which continued to be fascinated with the figure they cut long after their deaths.

As one might expect there were two schools of thought on what constituted a proper dandy: the English and the French. Beau Brummell, the most renown English dandy of the nineteenth century, set the standard that ultimately carried public opinion: namely, that a dandy should not be dressed ostentatiously in bright colors so that he draws the attention of all others to himself; rather he should exercise rigorous restraint in his dress. The dandy does not flaunt his individuality by wearing shocking combinations of clothes; instead he obeys the conventions of formal attire so scrupulously that he becomes noticeable because he is so perfectly an embodiment of “proper” attire. At the beginning of the century, French dandies still liked to wear suits in bright colors; the English wore only black, brown, or gray, depending on the time of day. Eventually, black became the color for male respectability, and it was the dandy who showed how the lack of ostentation could become its own distinction.

In this famous essay, Baudelaire sanctifies the dandy as the last hero of modern life, a man who tries valiantly to preserve an aristocratic rule of conformity in the face of rampant consumerism. While the middle classes were eagerly imitating the latest fad in dress, Baudelaire's dandy imposes an iron consistency to his own appearance. Understatement becomes the dandy's signature. The more garish others may dress, the more stalwart he avoids any sign of sartorial excess. Baudelaire's string of associations in this essay was prescient. By comparing the dandy to the medieval, middle-eastern cult of the Assasins, he draws the kind of analogy that modern French gangster movies repeatedly reinforce. The man in the sharp suit is like the lone samurai, struggling to live by an ancient code that has been forgotten by all but a handful. The severe lines of the man's suit stand as bulwark against

-192-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rise of Fashion: A Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 357

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.