Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Waist

 


 

Recently I’ve started some character designs for one of my stories; a period action drama set somewhere between the 17th and 18th centuries. While doing some research on fashion trends of the time, I made a startling discovery. I thought women had it bad with corsets but I never knew MEN DEALT WITH THE SAME CRAP!

Christopher&DarnellToday’s Dapper meets Yesterday’s Dandy

Whatever period drama I’ve watched or romantic fiction I blew the dust off of, almost all of them highlighted the female fashion nightmare: corset binding. How the depiction went: One unfortunate woman-of-age stands surrounded by female staff; each holding a piece of the wearer’s outfit like mere horses about to quarter a criminal. If that corset was not bound tight, the lady could not strut around court with her head held high. If I had no waist, I couldn’t imagine holding my torso up either.

The most I’ve seen of the male portrayal of changing clothes consisted of fastening a necktie or scarf, pulling a shirt over the head, and fastening the pants closed, after a fashion. No recollection of historical figures checking out their waistline specifically though. If so, I didn’t hear the “father figure” bearing down on them about how low waistlines spell “NO WIVES FOR HIM.” It could just be that I haven’t delved far enough into world pop culture –IN ANY CASE! The dandy trend must’ve been fascinating.

Concerning image alone, I often visualized the British dandy in particular. Many folks, including me, associated “dandyism” with the extravagant, effeminate, outrageous and flamboyant. The image is completely the opposite, no matter how effeminate or androgynous old society may have claimed a dandy looked. Historically, the first dandy was from England and gained power not through a title or particular position, but via his style. Gentleman had to be proudly well-dressed. Since ankle to foot-length trousers didn’t take off as a fashion trend until the 19th century, before then men had pantaloons, which were pretty form-fitting, knee-high trousers and wore black or white stockings depending on which “capri” they donned. Even more surprising, for ME anyways, was the fact that men also wore padding. And not just on the shoulders either, historically speaking. Displaying musculature through clothing was as big an ideal of men as a child-bearing hip width was for women. Dandy men had pads for arms, thighs, calves and high-waist coats to accentuate overall leg structure. This could’ve made contemporary reservations about women shaping their butts with padded spanks almost laughable.

Beauty really is fair game.

Final Thoughts

Pretty cool to know that men started the stocking industry as opposed to women who originally wore socks. Huh. We can add that to the list of what men wore first.

Speaking of firsts: I can’t think of the historical dandy without thinking about my Modern Day. Many men, TODAY, across cultures have been dressing pretty extravagantly to display their social gender. From tie, to watch and down to the shoes. Heck, even a full on DRESS some men have worn GORGEOUSLY, I might add. I’m a girl and I still don’t understand why women tend to get all the negative credit. I think historically double standards have panned out quite broadly. Sometimes I wonder if western culture has been left off the hook concerning male vanity (all men are not vain, of course; APPEARANCE rather…) to the point where folks wave off their denial about this particular side of the male voice via simply the NORMAL way of thinking. I get where it comes from. But I don’t think I buy it, though. I said it before: I think men and women individually are capable of defining what femininity and masculinity means to them respectively. Especially when it comes to appearances. They don’t need an ad’s, politician’s or even a coworker’s help in that choice. I’m kinda waiting for the first COVERGUY ad and still with the pastel color tones.


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