At Least They’re Not Boring: Spontaneous Impressions Of I Am Dandy

lady friend

One of the more frequent visitors to D.net HQ is a certain Lady Friend who hails from Japan and has spent much of her career in menswear. She’d seen my photo in “I Am Dandy,” but hadn’t gone through the entire book.

Recently, while mixing cocktails, I heard her cry out from the other room. I dashed in thinking something was wrong, but instead found her leafing through the book.

As both a woman and a non-Westerner, her feedback interested me, and I sat down at my keyboard to record her extemporaneous impressions. The exchange ran something like this. — CC

* * *

LF: “Attention please! Attention please! Look at me!”

CC: What’s the matter?

LF: There’s no dandies in here. The title is “I Am Dandy.”

CC: I see. Well how exactly should a dandy look?

LF: Simple. Sophisticated. Mature. Perfect fit.

CC: Thank you.

LF: These guys are like rock stars, gangsters or characters in a movie, but they’re not dandy.

CC: Interesting.

LF: I like the anime characters, though.

CC: The what?

LF: They’re fun. I can imagine characters in movies. But they’re not real. Why is he wearing so many rings?

CC: That’s a good question.

LF: They’re enjoying fashion and I’m so happy to see that. These kinds of guys I really like. But are they elegant gentlemen? They’re like women.

CC: Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

LF: “Watch me. I’m wearing fancy clothing. I’m unusual. I’m special.” That’s the message I can hear from this book. If I don’t see the title I think, “What a fun book!” It’s like scenes from movies. They’re acting. They have their own special characters. At least they’re not boring.

CC: Well put.

LF: The accessories they have are really good. How can I find them?

CC: Another good question.

LF: I really love this teacup.

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13 Responses to “At Least They’re Not Boring: Spontaneous Impressions Of I Am Dandy”

  1. principe Says:

    You have to love the cutie-chans…. ah, the cruelty of the young!

  2. Mr Balzac Says:

    I completely agree with her.

  3. Cané Says:

    She might very well think that, but of course I couldn’t possibly comment…

  4. Ashley Yakeley Says:

    Well someone had to put a bit of stick about. Perhaps it’s time to draw a line between the dandy subculture and simply dressing well?

  5. Michael Mattis Says:

    Good point Ash. In fact, when dandyism becomes a subculture as opposed to being merely an expression of the high culture, it fails.

  6. Bill Thompson Says:

    She’s exactly right. The emperor has no clothes.

  7. Ariete! Says:

    Hogwash.

    Ahistorical, lexically sloppy hogwash.

    ‘Dandy’ is synonimous with ‘fop’ or ‘coxcomb’. Brummel and his coterie were thoroughly statirised and infamous in Regency London. A man whose clothes attract NO attention NOR (dour) accusations of excessive aestheticism is NOT a dandy. A well-dressed man who ‘fits’ in is not a dandy but just a well-dressed man. A man who wears a well-made, dark grey suit is not a dandy just because the lapel has a nice roll.

    The young lady in question needs to have an educated, mature person explain to her what ‘dandy’ means.

  8. Cané Says:

    I take it that the gentleman above must be the kind of person that affects Imperial collars and spats over bespoke suits…

  9. Chenners Says:

    Ariete, there’s a nearly 200-year literary history (many of the texts of which are available or listed on this site) showing that the concept of the dandy has inspired the imagination in ways that clearly transcend pure coxcombry.

    Of course Brummell was infamous — he was a social novelty, in style, temperament and background. He is also called the father of modern costume.

    As to the remark about fitting in, no one “fit in” more than Brummell, who rose from essentially nothing to gain entre into the the very top of Regency society at a time when such a thing was unheard of.

    Fitting in while standing out was the whole point, the very magical essence of his dandyism.

    What you’re talking about has its place in dandy history, but Brummell should not be your example. More like a young Disraeli. I was just rereading Ellen Moers last night and she has an insightful line about the difference between practicing the art of dress and being merely “dressed up.”

  10. Ariete! Says:

    Interesting points from Mr Chenners.

    @ Cané:
    If only, old bean, if only. :-)
    Then again, these days a club collar goes reasonably unremarked. Ten years ago, in London at least, it would not. The brave propel us forward (or better yet, backward).

  11. Cané Says:

    Now there I think you are right.
    These days it even encompasses a certain degree of bravery (or at least, lack of concern for what other may think) to wear a suit and tie just because.

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