A Dandy is a male Dandizette

What Is A Dandy?  A Dandy is a male Dandizette. Contrary to what many people imagine, Dandyism is not  defined by an excessive delight in clothes, nonchalant manners, laconic witticisms or material elegance.  For the perfect Dandy or Dandizette, these things are no more than the symbols of the aristocratic superiority of his or her mind.

The Dandy was epitomised by George Byron and (Beau) Brummel, a celebrated personality of Regency England by virtue of his friendship with the Prince Regent. Beau redefined the way men dress; eschewing the frothy lace and frilly trims of the time thereby ushering in a suit closely resembling the modern gentleman’s suit. According to Beau “To be truly elegant one should not be noticed.” Though this was not a dictum he followed personally for he was noticed wherever he went – but perhaps he meant to add “for all the wrong reasons”.

A literary example of a true Dandy is the Scarlet Pimpernel in the novels of Baroness Emma Orczy. The impeccably dressed Pimpernel bravely risks his own life to rescue others from the Guillotine whilst maintaining his sartorial elegance and savoir faire. Surely the model for the contemporary James Bond character of Ian Flemming?

The Dandies and Dandizettes cultivated the ideals of the Perfect Gentlemen and Perfect Lady, with a nostalgic yearning for pre-industrial values which the Dandizettes & Dandies felt had diluted the individual into machine parts, servicing the greater industrial construct while reducing the individual into the ghastly homogenous masses. In short, they yearned for gentler times, a time with better manners and more scope for individual expression.

The English have a long tradition of using apparel as political protest.  While many nations take up weapons (or in the case of the French, cobbles) to make their protests, the English have long preferred to take up their cravats.  But since time immemorial Ladies of all nationalities have always known that we live and die before a mirror.

Robin Dutt, London Dandy Extraordinaire

Robin Dutt, London Dandy Extraordinaire

I suspect this is the reason that the Dandizette has often been overlooked in Regency history, with Dandies, such as Oscar Wilde, Brummel and Lord Byron, garnering the lions share of attention. But surely it is the Dandizette who deserves more note?  For she has existed since the first cave girl refused to wear her bear skin in the way her cave man father told her. From Joan of Arc to George Sands, Edith Sitwell and Diana Vreeland, women have been using clothing as a way of subverting the form or rebelling against the conformist roles we have been assigned.

The Dandy/Dandizette was defined by Baudelaire “as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion.”

To Baudelaire, the Dandy/Dandizette’s “mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class.”  He was very clear that the Dandizette and Dandies symbolised far more than a stylish affectation, remarking that Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality specifically comparing their principles to stoicism. To Stoics an individual’s philosophy was not what they said, but how they behaved and this is where the Dandy or Dandizette parts ways with The Fop.

The Fops were effeminate creatures who aped the clothing of the Dandies and Dandizettes without cultivating the ideals.  The proliferation of the fops, who paraded about St James’s with their effected manners and snobbish ways,  gave the true Dandies and Dandizettes with their revolutionary zeal and high minded philosophy a bad name. Not only were fops odious shallow weak snobbish chaps and chappesses,  but the general public often mistook the them for Dandies or Dandizettes which is why the Dandies began to rough them up.

The Dandizettes felt equally repelled by the haughty female fops though rather than box their foppish ears, the Dandizettes would deliver them a Bond Street Cut Direct.

Even now there is a strict demarkation between the Dandizette and the fashionista. The Fashionista cares more for being on point in terms of contemporary fashion, she’s all about the look.  Whereas the Dandizette is a revolution embodied in a look.

The Dandy and Dandizette both represent far more than appearance for appearances sake. But for their courage and history and subversive fun, I chose the Dandizette over the Dandy.

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