Firm advice for ladies who pride themselves on saucy chique, very stout persons, and gentlemen who so far forget what is elegant as to smoke in the street from George Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette, circa mid-to-late 1860s judging by the complaint about crinolines, which had gone out of fashion in favour of bustles by the 1870s.
Some of the advice is actually still completely relevant; Mr Routledge’s glove fixation, not so much. “Worsted or cotton gloves are unutterably vulgar,” apparently. You’ve been told.
It is always better to let your friends regret than desire your withdrawal…
If you are yourself the performer, bear in mind that in music, as in speech, “brevity is the soul of wit.” … If your audience desire more they will ask for more; and it is infinitely more flattering to be encored than to receive the thanks of your hearers, not so much in gratitude for what you have given them, but in relief that you have left off.
Remember that all “slang” is vulgar.
It has become of late unfortunately prevalent, and we know many ladies who pride themselves on the saucy chique with which they adopt certain Americanisms, and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of thought. It is a great mistake to suppose that slang is in any way a substitute for wit… Puns, unless they rise to the rank of witticisms, are to be scrupulously avoided. A lady-punster is a most unpleasing phenomenon, and we would advise no young women, however witty she may be, to cultivate this kind of verbal talent… Do not be always witty, even though you should be so happily gifted as to need the caution. To outshine others on every occasion is the surest road to unpopularity.
Lady correspondents are too apt to over-emphasize in their letter-writing, and in general evince a sad disregard of the laws of punctuation. We would respectfully suggest that a comma is not designed to answer every purpose, and that the underlining of every second or third word adds nothing to the eloquence or clearness of a letter, however certain it may be to provoke an unflattering smile upon the lips of the reader.
All letters must be prepaid.
Illustrations from the Jno. J Mitchell Publishing Company’s The Sartorial Art Journal, intended to assist tailors in their consultations with clients about bespoke menswear. I’m assuming they weren’t intended to be but these look rather homoerotic to me, in their own splendidly buttoned-up fin de siécle kind of way. Check out this little cruise:
Hello. I was just wondering if you have an early 21st century Japanese magazine named after you? No? How unfortunate. How frightfully dreary your life must be.
I’m pretty sure it’s defunct now. It was a sort of middle aged executive menswear magazine; dressing like Pierce Brosnan is among the suggestions in this copy. There’s also a worringly fulsome appreciation of The Duke of Windsor, fraternising with Nazis and all.
PS: I was once stopped on the street in Harajuku by some kind of Tokyo fashionista and told that I had “mature Europe style”. Er… thanks?
Two of Adolf Hitler’s favourite movies were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and King Kong. He chattered nerdily and constantly about King Kong for days after it was screened for him at the Chancellery. He also enjoyed whistling the Disney tune Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Hitler was a bit obsessed with wolves, and was undoubtedly very well aware that whistling this tune was some creepy shit. “Adolf” derives from “Athal” (noble) and “Wolfa” (wolf). One of his early aliases was “Mr Wolf”, and he surrounded himself with Wolfshunde (Alsatians/German Shepherds). His French HQ was named Wolfsschlucht (Wolf’s Ravine), a Ukrainian one was Werwolf.
PS: While Hermann Göring was staying at the Ritz in occupied Paris, the corpulent Nazi asked Coco Chanel to design some women’s gowns in his very large size. This was to help him “relax”, apparently. Not that there’s anything wrong with men wearing dresses, of course, although some men (including other leading Nazis) were summarily murdered or sent to concentration camps for similar so-called “perversions”. But it’s certainly, shall we say, an arresting image: a big fat genocidal war criminal kicking back with the latest copy of Vogue and choosing couture dresses for himself while the world’s most destructive and total war ever rages around him. Sort of like a grisly mashup of Inglourious Basterds with Sex and the City.
Source: David J. Skal’s excellent book The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror.
A selection from a folder on my hard drive that I’ve not touched for ten years, containing numerous pictures of archaic costume from around the world. What a shame it is that these are archaic; what a shame that the most boring and generic items of Western apparel have almost entirely become the whole world’s de facto uniform. And how beautiful and diverse a globally connected world could be if it meant we all had access to a massively expanded potential wardrobe of practical modern items derived from these local clothes that were still in wear during the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth in some cases. You probably wouldn’t want to go for the full Malay actress or Kalmuck gentleman, but there’s shoes, dresses, coats and even hats here– although nobody really knows how to wear hats nowadays, at least not without looking like a complete tool– that would be much more appealing than the sea of branded trainers, sloppy leisurewear and ill-fitting two piece suits that are seen on the streets of most towns and cities in the world now. Not to mention a much more creative and much less colonialist way to celebrate our global and national heritages than Steamfuckingpunk. There must be something we can do to put a stop to Steampunk.
As with everything I’ve been posting under the HD detritus tag, I don’t know where these come from, not the original book and not the online source. My descriptions are based on the file names and/or whatever I can decipher by squinting at the original German captions. These costumes are all of the nineteenth century and some are clearly based on photographs, so the engravings can’t be any earlier than about 1840.