Monday, July 07, 2008

A Correction: History Gone Wrong

In commenting on a Coilhouse post on men's fashion taking on a more dandy look, I defined the time period as the Victorian Age. Naturally, my PhD in Victorian Literature-holding sister had to correct me on this. So without further ado her is her explanation for where I went wrong:

Uh, Brummell isn't a Victorian, technically speaking. Brummell belongs to the Georgian period when morals were loser and a multitude of undesirable behavior was buried underneath the properly tied cravat. Read Jane Austen for an idea of Brummell's time. And no, Jane Austen isn't as straightlaced as you might think. In fact, she deals quite a bit with the rake figure Brummell so embodied if not the ton that he inhabited. (The elite classes in the Georgian period actually named themselves the ton or the world. Silly elites.) At any rate, for a good overview, read Linda Colley's Britons, the new biography on Brummell I have floating around, and Ellen Moer's book on the dandy. The reason the age distinction is important is because the advance in men's fashion heralded by Brummell happened at a gallop. It didn't evolve overly much afterwards, except to move from breeches to actual trousers. Women's fashion, on the other hand, changed rapidly, not quite catching up to the simplicity of the Brummell revolution until the Edwardian age and the 1920s/30s sport look.