Tuesday, August 03, 2010


The dandizette is a female English dandy. Their peek period coincided with that of the male dandy, roughly  from 1810 to 1820. 

Dandizettes hung out with male dandies.  Even though they were women, some of them adapted the speech and habits of male dandies.  That's bizarre when you remember that male dandies were imitating women.  It's a case of women imitating men who were imitating women.  Geez!

Wait a minute, let me backtrack.  I implied that all dandies were gays, and I didn't mean to say that.  I imagine that the great majority of dandies were heterosexual and completely masculine. Disraeli was a dandy. Dickens was something of a dandy in his youth. Even so, I feel justified in hazarding a guess that gay men had something to do with the founding of dandyism. They started it, but a big portion of it passed into the hands of heterosexuals. 


Dandizettes are with us even today, witness John Allison's "Fop Catcher" (above) (copyright John Allison 2009).  Some modern girls just like to hang out with dandies. I'm not talking about hetero girls who have gay men friends. That's different. I'm talking about hetero dandizettes who fall in love exclusively with male hetero dandies. 

Is anybody following what I'm saying here? I wrote it, and even I have trouble understanding it. 

Girls are strange. They seem to prefer men who are  either ultra-masculine, or who look and act like girls. No doubt the truth is more complicated, but I make no claim to possessing the truth. 


Were dandies of the Regency period really as over the top as they were portrayed in etchings?

I hope so. It makes the period much more interesting.

While we're on the subject of dandies, I think I'll take a shot at answering  Paul's comment about whether or not metrosexuals are todays dandies. It's an interesting topic.  

I do think that Regency dandies will be found to have had a greater intellectual impact on succeeding generations than metrosexuals, and that's because they were better versed in culture.  Go to iTunes and listen to  Stephen Fry's podcast on language.  Fry doesn't dress like a dandy, but he was influenced by that culture, and you'll hear for yourself how powerful dandyism is when its allied to a good classical education.


kellie said...

Wonderful drawings. Hardly anyone knows how to speak in copperplate script nowadays.

RooniMan said...

Thats some interesting facts.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised my world history teacher from my sophomore year never taught me about the Dandizettes or when I was reading such classic literature as Great Expectations. Seems like they could have been relevant to the Industrial Revolution, maybe. Never even heard of them until you wrote this post! It's amazing and remarkable how much more I learn from this blog than from a single semester of high school, and I'm not kidding either.

"Girls are strange. They seem to prefer men who are either ultra-masculine, or who look and act like girls"

I definitely agree with that sentiment, as I've brought up that subject several times on your blog before. I never got why any girl would even go for such sissy milquetoasts, when simultaneously, they could easily admire a manly fellow with muscles and strong abs in the same way. It only makes sense if you're actually a girl yourself. Otherwise, it seems like the females are from another species.

Jorge said...

The best comics I've ever seen about this were by local comic artist Kate Beaton.



Maybe dandies were putting on an act to get women?

Alberto said...

Dandy, just dandy!

Severin said...

Sheesh, I'm not trying to spam you with comments, but everything you post about is interesting!

The dandies seem similar in spirit to the Rococo movement from just a century earlier. I think the exact causes for why these fashion movements happen is very complex, and I think it's interesting that it seems to happen at least once per century.

If the dandy movement were anything like the rococo period, then sex was definitely a motivating factor. Rococo started following the death of Louis XIV. The country was in a rare moment of not being at war with anyone, which had been Louis' favorite hobby. When you're not busy killing people, why not make more?

I think that sex leads to sensuality, which is considered a feminine trait. Women like men who are sensitive to their, ah, needs. Satisfying women is a far more complicated affair than satisfying men, something a masculine, and therefore insensitive, male might not be able to achieve. A sensual man would want to advertise himself by dressing in a more sensual, and feminine, manner. I think donning tighter pants, slimmer waists, and floppy, feathery caps is a man's way of saying, "Yes, dear, I actually can give you an orgasm!"

Paul Penna said...

I wonder if th metrosexuals of today fill the same cultural ecological niche that dandies did.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I would have expected the dandizette to be provocatively and sensually dressed but they look like the height of frumpiness. You could put Marilyn Monroe in that getup and she'd look like a crazy baglady. Have you read Max Beerboehms article on Dandies? I can't find it but I know its on project gutenberg.

Anonymous said...

I love how utterly contemptuous the artist at the top and bottom are of Dandy's, you can tell he must have known quite a few and found them as fatuous and self obsessed as most people find Williamsbourgh hipsters today.

If they had the internet back then I'd be surprised if their weren't websites like latfh except called "look at this fucking dandy"

Jenny Lerew said...

This makes me think: I believe I could make a solid case for your being born much too late-you would have just been perfect for this period-or even better, a generation earlier. Do you agree or no?

Jenny Lerew said...

What was provocative in 1955 isn't dressed the same way in 1820 as in 1955. Sex is the same and for the most part attractiveness too(even then many people found certain fashions ridiculous). It's how it's exhibited that's different. Also the drawing style is, naturally, grossly distorted for comic effect in these examples-they're meant to be hilarious. Look at some Gainsborough paintings of beautiful women-and men-and see if they come across as "frumpy".

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

jorge: Interesting!

Roberto: Maybe. There must be books that speculate on where fashion comes from. It's a mystery to me.

Jenny: Holy Mackerel! I think if I had a time machine I'd go into the future, not the past. I regard the past as present...just a different country, like France. To me Shakespeare and Caesar are contemporaries.

Peetie Wheatstraw said...

Eddie it's true! As something of a well dressed prettyboy myself, I find most chicks either dig it or they don't - there's just no middle ground about it!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Paul: You raise an interesting point. So far as I can tell dandyism from 1815 had a greater positive impact than the metrosexual movement does today. That's because the The dandies in 1815 were probably better educated and more versed in culture than metrosexuals are today.

Education today is political. Students today read Shakespeare's inferior plays like "Merchant of Venice" because they teach tolerance and multiculturalism. They read Kate Chopin's awesomely incompetent feminist novel "The Awakening" instead of "David Copperfield" because it endorses feminism. They don't study the important aspects of Greece and Rome because those cultures are thought to emphasize manly virtues. Todays dandies are uneducated even though they have degrees. They don't have the tools that it takes to make an impact.

Paul Penna said...

You hit the nail on the headerino, Eddie. Sometimes (well, most times) you get the impression that most people these days get their "education" about the past through movies and other pop culture of today,. Take your typical period piece set in the 1950s: adults are all either right-wing nutcases or Willy Lomanesque money- and success-aholics, or if a woman, a June Cleaver-type with all her sexual repressions bubbling just under the surface ready to explode. Not a day goes by that someone doesn't express their ongoing fear of The Bomb or of Commies under the bed. Everybody listens only to mindless elevator music and always rushes right out like unthinking robots to buy whatever is advertised on TV. Every single action is motivated by the need to conform.

OK, I can laugh at a lot of that as it's often motivated by satire, but just as often it's not, and in either case lots of people take it as gospel that that's the way it really was. But for a period of such ostensibly lock-step conformity, look at the people in the arts and music who were at the top of their form in that milieu: (just a few of my favorites off the top of my head): Walt Kelly, Ernie Kovacs, Shorty Rogers, Les Baxter, Billy Wilder...

Now go to the imdb and read user reviews of 50s films; how often do you see people commenting not on the artistry and craftsmanship of the films, but rather picking out all the details that tend to reinforce their skewed view of the period?

Wow, what a rant. I hate rants. I got carried away, sorry.

Jenny Lerew said...

Well, I don't see how an interest in the future or thinking of the past as a different country precludes imagining how comfortable or enjoyable one would find another era. The advantage in the first place is--a person such as yourself KNOWS quite a bit, at least enough to make educated guesses, about the past. And after all, a specific theory about early 19th c. mores and fashions is the subject of your post!

So don't be a churl and shut down some wool-gathering about whether you'd make a nice dandyish fop or not for heaven's sake!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: Haw! You caught me. I was trying to wiggle out of answering that, but only because I've never been able to figure out what period of history I'd be most comfortable in. Maybe the 1930s in America, provided I had a way of making a living.

I like the old English literary dandies but I'm not sure they would have liked me. You have to have wit and a good command of the language to get along in a crowd like that, and I don't think I'd measure up.

Paul: I noticed that, too! The 50s was actually a lot more varied and nuanced than that.

Jorge said...

Hey, Jenny, I bet you would've gotten along with Lady Gregory in the 1910s.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there were "two levels" of Dandies back then. Like you'd have real Dandies with a true instinct for style and flair and wit and all that like Oscar Wilde and Max Beerboehm and "poser dandies" who wanted to be part of that scene tried to be dandies but didn't really get it and just ended up a superficial imiation of a true dandy.

Kind of like how you'd have people in the early nineties wearing flannel shirts in an attempt to seem "grunge" or the glut of hipsters today.

John A said...

Seeing my Fop Chaser drawings on Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner has made my month, I feel HIGH. I love this blog!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

John A: Thanks for the compliment! I had no idea that that John A. who comments here sometimes was the same John Allison who does Fop Chaser! Your blog is great, and your work should have a much wider audience. Thanks for letting me post it here!

Anon: You make me aware of how little I know about dandies. There must have been at least two types, probably a lot more.