Life’s Not Fair

greg.jpgPerhaps the most famous of all dandy admonishments is Brummell’s simple warning, “If John Bull turns to look after you, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.”

Later worthies echo the Beau’s sentiment. “Never in your dress altogether desert that taste which is general,” is one of Pelham’s maxims in Bulwer-Lytton’s novel. “The world considers eccentricity in great things, genius; in small things, folly.”

And in his essay “Dandies and Dandies,” Max Beerbohm writes, “Is it not to Brummell’s fine scorn of accessories that we may trace that first aim of modern dandyism, the production of the supreme effect through means the least extravagant?”

So it was with great amusement not long ago that I came upon an old acquaintance who recounted an anecdote that perfectly illustrates these long-held dandy ideals.

Carlos is a fine young man of conservative style, prone to academic-looking corduroy jackets, who had recently interned at my company before moving on to a nonprofit organization. I asked how his new gig was going. “It’s the most ‘San Francisco’ place I’ve ever worked,” he said enthusiastically.

“In what way?” I asked.

“The place us full of eccentrics,” he explained. “Real San Francisco-style originals. There’s even a guy who dresses like he’s on his way to the Dickens Fair.”

“Really?” I said, arching an eyebrow. “What’s his name?”

Gregory Seeley.”

And so I offer a new twist on an old maxim: “If Carlos turns to ask if you are on your way to the Dickens Fair, you are either too retro, too eccentric, or both.”

(Mr. Seeley is pictured at left at a company picnic.)

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7 Responses to “Life’s Not Fair”

  1. G~ Says:

    There are those who have had their name up in lights in such places as Hollywood, Broadway,and Las Vegas.
    There are those who have been featured in such prominent and noble media as the New York Times, L.A. Times, Vogue and GQ.
    I scorn them!
    I have now made it to the front page of Dandyism.net; am revue far more snooty, elitist and self important than those aforementioned [kind of like being seen, from the street, in the bay window at Whites].
    I will now sit down and have a nice cigar and glass of brandy: There’s not much higher I can go from here ;-]

  2. Jeeves Says:

    Context, sir, context…

    Speaking of which, if you will permit me, it appears not recognising how to fit things into context is the root of all your Evils. I was going to mention the Dandy Rule of pushing the borders of fashion but never crossing it when I saw your picture in the forum. But I thought it too impertinent to criticise someone’s choice of style. An homage to a more elegant, more graceful time is is not unwelcome. I should have spoken. This article takes what would have been a friendly word of advice ties it to a brick and hurls it at a man’s skull. Not that I complain. My compliments to the author.

  3. bmiller Says:

    I’m sure this will only strengthen whatever notion you have of your own uniqueness, G, but you look like a complete tit, and not a particularly well-dressed one.

  4. M Says:

    A picture’s worth a thousand words, bmiller. Let’s see one of you.

  5. bmiller Says:

    But I only used 28. Anyway, I look boring and average. If it’s really important, I guess I could look for a picture.

    In retrospect, I think I was unnecessarily douchey towards Gregory, but I think that anonymous internet critics may legitimately criticize the dress of one who maintains a webpage on the subject of dandyism. I’m sure for every one of my kind, there are three burgher daughters saying he looks like a gentleman and lamenting the passedness of the past.

  6. Miguel Antonio Says:

    G~ is an elegant man, his weakness lies in his judgement.

  7. Raymond E. André III Says:

    It seems there is a war between the GQ-’Dandies and the Bohemians/Décadents of which I was previously unaware! Well then, “…into the breach! …every man-jack of you!” I had thought that refinement of experience (sartorial or otherwise) was the order of the day (callow youth that I was). But, alas, after taking the ‘How Dandy are you’ quiz, I realize that I am already ‘pre-reviled’ by your elite fashion cadre as an ‘eccentric’, an ‘oddity’ and perhaps even (dare I say it?) a ‘clown’! This is most especially distressing in that Mr.Mattis belongs to the same confraternity in SF that we (Mr. Seeley and myself) do. Has he forgotten his scandalous San Franciscan roots? The name of this organization he well knows, but I’ll not mentioned it here (to protect all relevant parties).

    Like all divergent species, we each have a common set of ancestors, whether Brummel, Baudelaire or Barbey-d’Aurevilly. Let us find some solace or unity in that. If not, let the martial horns blare, and I shall gird my loins for doing battle with misguided and effete miscreants arguing over the number of tassels that the ideal ox-blood tinted loafer should be festooned with (2 tassels too staid? 3 tassels completely outré?!?!). Let the tyranny that the Box Suit has exerted over the 20′th century be laid waste, and a more enlightened time dawn where the male Homo Sapiens has yet more radiant plumage than his crypto-gynocratic mate. After all, I would rather be a comical lion fighting on my feet, than a pallid, navel-gazing fashion-lemur like Tom Wolfe, in his Ante-Bellum, white-washed pseudo- ‘Slave-Owner’ togs, carefully cogitating the rarefied alchemy that is the ’2 olive martini’, all the while genuflecting at the altar of tepidness.

    “Braccae illae virides cum subucula rosea et tunica Caledonia-quam elenganter concinnatur!”

    Gentlemen, I remain your assiduous nemesis ever,

    REA3 8¬}D-

    P.S. Young Mr.Seeley is an actual friend of mine. Please consider him my ‘second’ at the duel.

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