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Dandies, Æsthetes & Flâneurs

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Oops... [22 Oct 2005|11:17am]
I accidentally posted this to my personal journal last night. It was meant to go here.

A Spark of Controversy II: What is Dandyism?

I've really enjoyed the discourse in my last post a great deal. It's allowed me to do a great deal of thinking and exploring on a great many topics and, in my opinion, has been a rousing and stimulating forum overall. However it's begun to get a bit sidetracked with a discussion between Mister Guignol and myself about the foundation of Dandyism. And so I am opening this thread with the question:

What is Dandyism?

There have been many stirring essays written by members of this community, and there are obviously a great many personal philosophies regarding Dandyism and reasons for living the Dandy lifestyle. But is Dandyism merely an adherence to what the members of this community find acceptable in dress, or is it something more? Is dandyism rooted only in the vaunted halls of waistcoats, bow ties and bowlers, or is there a broader spectrum of which our views are only a subset of ideals? I would submit that Dandyism is an art like any other, and that there is a wide range of "schools" or approaches to Dandyism. Hence my thesis, which Mister Guignol - a perceptive and cunning chap - has helped me to crystalize:

Dandyism is the Art of Sartorial Presentation.

Thus, in my mind, I might perceive an individual as being "gaudy," just as many people might find my apparel as gaudy. But does that make either of us the better dandy?

As a case study I present, from earlier debate, Mr. Snoop Dogg:

Now, it is obvious, to me, that Mr. Dogg has applied a great deal of attention to his dress in this picture. At the same time, I find the ensemble to be hideously garish. That said, I would asser that he still qualifies as a Dandy. A different classification of Dandy than the sort we tend to discuss here, to be sure, but a Dandy none the less.

Thoughts? Opinions? Death threats?

Below is some discussion that ocurred in my journal:

2005-10-22 03:50 am UTC (link)
Dandyism is the Art of Sartorial Presentation.

Would you consider Bozo the Clown to be a dandy?

2005-10-22 04:40 am UTC (link)
You raise an excellent point for us to consider.

I suppose I should narrow my thesis a bit... But then, if Bozo pays particular attention to his apparrel and dressed carefully in a manner that expresses something artful, who am I to say he's not a dandy?

You've stumped me for the moment, I must admit. I'll sleep on it and see what I come up with. What have you to say, in the mean-time? I take it you don't think a clown could be a dandy, but why?

2005-10-22 04:54 am UTC (link)
A little more food for thought before I turn in... My room mate often turns out rather sharply in three piece suits, complete with tie and watch chain, all very tasteful. He also has a big blue mohawk. Does this hairstyle exclude him from being a dandy? If not, why not?

(Reply to this) (Parent)

2005-10-22 01:47 pm UTC (link)
Is a policeman a dandy?

Is a Green Bay Packer fan who wears a "cheesehead" a dandy?

Rather than implicitly espousing a particular definition of dandyism, the "Bozo" question and the 2 above are intended to determine if you believe dandyism includes all types of "Sartorial Presentation," or if you believe dandyism has some historical/aesthetic content. If the latter, what specifically would that content be?

2005-10-22 03:16 pm UTC (link)
I think I've found the problem. You're focusing a great deal on the words "sartorial presentation" and completely ignoring the word "art." That's the crux of it.

Is a house painter a painter? Of course, but he's probably not an artist. So there is sartorial presentation, and then there's Artistic Sartorial Presentation. If the policeman or the clown dresses in a manner that he believes to be artistic, they would be dandies.

Now I will add: No, there is no historical requirement to Dandyism. I say this because Beau Brummel and Oscar Wilde were dressing in manners that were either contemporary or revolutionary with no eye to history at all, and they were most certainly dandies. One may argue that Dandyism is a "dead" artform, i.e. that the aesthetic form is no longer evolving, however I strictly disagree with this precept and see dandyism as a living, breathing art.
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