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Dressing Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman

The Peacock

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Exuberance & Flamboyance

Peacockry has been a facet of dandyism from the Count D’Orsay’s embroidered silk waistcoats and young Benjamin Disraeli’s gold chains and rings to the flamboyant tailoring of Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton in swinging London. In “I am Dandy” this is probably best represented by Guy Hills, whose “Dashing Tweeds” fabrics are as colorful and exuberant as Carnaby Street in its heyday. A measured dash of this flamboyance can be added to your wardrobe with paisley ties from Brioni and Ermenegildo Zegna._BrioniTies

The Traditionalist

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Noble Sartorial Creed

The traditionalist dandy is no Luddite – he sees himself as the torchbearer of a noble sartorial creed. The traditionalist’s mission isn’t merely some retro-obsession; it has to do with maintaining continuity with the past and sartorial forms which, once introduced, have never gone out of fashion. In “I am Dandy” this breed is represented by men like Bruce Boyer and Sean Crowley. On your tie rack it may be represented by ties by Kenneth Field.

The Decadent

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Under-worldy Style

Since Charles Baudelaire and J.K. Huysmans dandyism has had a dark side – a morbid flirtation with the evil, the debauched, and the satanic. Men like Robin Dutt, Dickon Edwards, and David Carter grace the pages of “I am Dandy” with their under-worldly style. Mere mortals can somewhat safely experience the deathly details of sartorial decadence with a Gothic Archer Adams umbrella.


The Aesthete

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Bright Young People and Intellectual Athletes

Philosophically, Dandyism and Aestheticism have had a close relationship since Oscar Wilde. In England in the period between the wars, this elegant banner was taken up by intellectual Aesthetes like Harold Acton and glamorous Bright Young People like Cecil Beaton, who clamored for beautiful Charvet neckties (below) just as the best dressers do today. The aesthetes still walk among us and are chronicled in “I am Dandy” – men of glamour like Hamish Bowles, Simon Doonan, and Barima Owusu-Nyantekyi.

Charvet Silk Buttonhole Rosette Ties



The Expert

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Perfection in Pattern and Color

No list of fashionable men would be complete without this creature. He’s the fellow with the sharp eye for details – metaphorically slicing into the clothing of other men with subatomic precision. Inches, centimeters, and an almost obsessive lust for perfection in pattern and color are his currency. Men like Michael Andrew, Winston Chesterfield, and David Zyla are ably counted among this sort in “I am Dandy,” and one might glimpse the importance of detail which has been mastered by these men by browsing through a few selections from a brand like Isaia (below).


In honor of this week’s I Am Dandy celebratory book event, author Nathaniel Adams, editor Sven Ehmann and photographer Rose Callahan shared their sartorial insight on how to get the dandy look. Think Charvet silk buttonhole rosettes, Archer Adams Umbrellas, Isaia and Brioni Suits, and Kenneth Field ties. Scroll through the images above to see their top five favorite styles:

Dandyism might seem like a rarified calling – and, to be sure, its most genuine practitioners are men of unique style and elegance. But that doesn’t mean that those inspired by or aspiring to the level of dandiacal obsession seen in “I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman”, can’t take a few tips from the men chronicled by me and Rose. Dandy heritage and taxonomy is a labyrinthine world, but we’re here to guide you through a few of the many sub-categories of dandyhood.

Pick up a copy of I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman on the Seventh Floor of the Women’s Store.  Call 212 872 8760 for more details.

Want more dandyism? The I Am Dandy team has taken over our Tumblr – see it here on The Swipe.

Dandy Photography Credit: Rose Callahan