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Okay you know what, I'm pissed about some stuff so that means it's time for another thread about fashion history. This one is for all my boyes suffering under toxic masculinity. Thread af.
BOYS. MY BOYS. Do you know why you dress Like That? Why you have that haircut? Do you know whose fucking fault it is that "acceptable" colors for men are: black, grey, navy blue, olive drab? It is because of one man.

ONE MAN.

BEAU FUCKING BRUMMELL
i need to take a moment to seethe with rage, hang on
ok we good.

BEAU FUCKING BRUMMELL -- ok no actually we not yet good, maybe a nap and a cup of tea to calm me down
so BFB (i'm gonna have to keep stopping to grind my teeth if i type out his whole name) was one of the most famous dandies in Regency Engla-- wait you don't know what a dandy is, do you
Dandyism was a whole aesthetic movement -- you know how in the 80s/90s there was that whole trend of "cynicism is cool"? The cool guy in shades at the party, lounging with studied carelessness against a doorjamb and smoking?
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandy
And dandies were also really concerned with physical appearance and dress. And the king of the dandies was BEAU FUCKING BRUMMELL *throws a chair out the window*
BFB was not a gentleman or an aristocrat. He was just Some Guy. He was Some Guy so fucking hard that IN HIS LIFETIME he wrenched men's fashion in a totally new direction. And i hate him so much. So. Much.
See, he couldn't afford fancy jewelry or expensive fabrics, so he made it unacceptable for ANY MAN to wear jewelry or expensive fabrics. He convinced everyone that it was vulgar and effeminate.
Which is how, in less than 50 years, men's fashion went from this:
...to this.
And then men's fashion functionally froze. It went that far and then no further for *two hundred years*. Do you know why men's suits have long pants? Because Beau Brummel thought breeches and stockings were for losers.

His style is the DIRECT ancestor of modern suits
There is a statue of BFB on Jermyn Street in London, with the inscription:

"To be truly elegant one should not be noticed."
He's THE LITERAL AUTHOR OF THAT PART OF TOXIC MASCULINITY. He is the *inventor* of the reason that many men today feel self-conscious in anything eye-catching or unique. Shapeless hoodies and jeans or cargo pants for everybody! A suit that looks exactly like everyone else's!
And now we have a whole culture where men are *aching* just to BE SEEN, to feel cute or special or unique, to get validation on their physical existence, and they... don't.

And then they don't understand why catcalling women on the street is wrong.
(A post I saw on tumblr described this as "Someone dying of thirst in the desert can't understand what a drowning person has to complain about" and that's so fucking apt. They just don't have the framework to empathize with that kind of life experience, it's totally alien)
Beau FUCKING Brummell
*seethes*
Ahem. Now, the dandy philosophy might initially strike you as quite egalitarian, right? Dressing more plainly, more subdued fabrics and less overt ornamentation -- it's a fuck-you to the aristocratic class, riiiiiiiiiight?
well fucking no, actually, because Brummell dandyism demands flawless bespoke tailoring, and an *incredibly* painstaking approach to dressing (literally 5-6 hours to dress). Brummell recommended having your shoes polished with champagne
Oh, and the clothes were so fitted that you literally could not get dressed without the help of a valet.

So between the tailoring, the leisure time required, the champagne, and the valet? This is not fashion that's accessible to the masses.
So we have THIS GODDAMN ASSHOLE swanning into Regency society, making everyone feel shitty about themselves unless they conform exactly to his standards.
And then we come to the Oscars last night (and the red carpet recently in general), and there's Billy Porter, like a shining star of hope and joy, wearing a huge velvet dress, or that gorgeous satin sash, or that pink-satin lined cape
And it actually does make me tear up a little bit, because it's a sign that MAYBE, FINALLY, we are getting better

Maybe we are finally learning that Beau Fucking Brummell was a goddamn snotty shithead who should have been slapped repeatedly until he stopped gaslighting everyone
Here's a list of 30 times Beau Fucking Brummel was an appalling dick to someone, I am fully prepared to believe all of them are true and accurate: regencyhistory.net/2012/11/30-bea…
Questions from the audience?
It's just.... It's so hypocritical, right? Because the whole goal of dandyism is "subdued elegance, don't draw attention, be reserved" and at the same time the goal is also "sleep in front of ur mirror, be SO FUCKIGN CONCERNED with urself and ur appearance and ur Performance"
It is an artificial construction of casualness -- "look exactly like everyone else, don't stand out," but to do that WELL, it requires you to put yourself at the ABSOLUTE CENTER OF YOUR ENTIRE UNIVERSE
You don't need to be Seen by anyone else because YOU are giving yourself all the Seeing you require and just fghjklfghjklfghjkl this is so unhealthy, the mental acrobatics required to get to a point where this is sustainable is just... mindboggling
Boys. My boys. What would be fun to wear? What would make you feel cute? Brocade waistcoat? Do it. Weird pants? Do it. Bright colors? PLEASE DO IT, Y'ALL ARE SO CUTE WHEN YOU WEAR COLORS
You don't have to live in the cult of Brummell anymore! There is a world outside! You can be Seen! People will compliment you on your physical embodiment!!! You are special and unique and you deserve to look cute as often as you want to!
DFGHJKLDFGHJKRTGHJK LITERALLY EXACTLY THAT THO!!!!!!!!
that was why cravat-tying took so long, because it had to be exactly the right kind of Pretentiously Disheveled, you can't just throw some cloth around your neck and call it a day!

and yet, like... I still kind of want to bring aspects of dandyism back, you know??? because at least then it was okay for men to look in the mirror and say "Dang I look good"
and today we have "fellas, is it gay to wipe your butt" as if even PERSONAL HYGIENE is offensively masculinity-threatening self-care

please, boys, love yourselves. PLEASE. Maybe not quite as much as Brummell loved himself, but like... like TWO PERCENT of that!
ok i'm gonna stop adding to this thread now (still might add more later) but I LOVE YOU! YOU'RE CUTE!!!
Oh, they absolutely did. But Brummell had so much confidence, and so much self-assurance in his own identity, and so much willingness to OUTRIGHT INSULT PEOPLE, and cultivated an air of "amused, pitying disdain"... He started an ACTUAL CULT.

Oh dang this is already getting attention HI EVERYBODY I'm a fantasy author, my book is REALLY DANG GOOD and you should read it: amazon.com/Conspiracy-Tru…
And of syphilis! In an asylum!! After he fled the country!!! Yes it does super help
Oh for sure, but it is worth it to recall that the wild 70s fashions you're thinking of were COUNTERCULTURE.
Also, everybody go watch the Russian movie "Stilyagi", it's subtitled on youtube and it is about Americaphile dandies in Soviet Russia and it's GREAT
Literally just sheer force of personality. He was an Instagram influencer without Instagram.
Again: Those were counter-culture. Look at how senators, lawyers, and CEOs have dressed for the last two hundred years -- barely any change. That's the baseline of men's fashion & it's a tool of the white heteropatriarchy, an in-group signifier
If you think you look cute in a suit, then HOORAY!!!!!!!! that's great! Love the person in the mirror! Wear whatever the fuck you want!
Very important follow-up to the counter-culture point:
i take it back, we're not calling him BFB anymore, we're calling him Weird-Legs Brummel now
Further essential followup to the counterculture point:
So there's how "The Man" dresses, ie: people in positions of authority & prestige (senators, CEOs, lawyers -- the people who own the world)

And then there's the "weird fashions" that, frex, teenagers develop because Fuck The Man: That's counterculture.

You!!!!! Deserve to be seen! You deserve to love the person in the mirror! You deserve to feel cute whenever you want to! You deserve to have your physical embodiment appreciated!
Okay so once you convince men that they don't get to wear pretty clothes, you spend a couple generations slowly eroding all their interest in/awareness of their physical appearance beyond "does it conform". (continued...)

NATURALLY AND UNDERSTANDABLY, they lose interest in clothing. You've beaten out any opportunity for emotional engagement with it, of COURSE they don't care anymore. Why would they? Then you give them something convenient and comfortable that they don't have to think about. (cont)
Tshirts and cargo pants are hella comfortable. You don't have to think about them when you're wearing them, they're sturdy, they don't get in your way, they don't take any special care when washing... (continued)
If you are getting ZERO emotional benefit from wearing the clothes, why would you waste any emotional labor on them? Tshirts and cargo pants do the bare minimum: they cover your body.

Toxic masculinity says that you shouldn't need emotional nourishment beyond that.
I've added enough tweets now that I also want to point out that the SEQUEL to the aforementioned Real Good Fantasy Novel comes out in September and you can preorder it :D ttps://www.amazon.com/Choir-Lies-Alexandra-Rowland/dp/1534412832/
More colorful t-shirts? V-neck shirts? idk what your job is, but add a waistcoat? Cool earrings or other jewelry? Play with eyeliner? I don't have a single conclusive answer for this bc the whole point is that there ISN'T a single answer. What feels cute?

Oh, whoops, thanks to the people who pointed out the link was broken! amazon.com/Choir-Lies-Ale…
It's less culturally challenging for a woman to wear a suit than it is for a man to wear a dress, is the thing
Common misconception stemming from modern confusion between the words "bathe" and "wash". Almost everyone washed daily (with a washcloth and a bucket of water, at least your face/neck/pits/groin). Almost no one BATHED daily (submerging yourself in water).
Yep! Also if you have enjoyed this thread you'd probably also enjoy my other thread about conspicuous consumption in the Renaissance:

an EXTREMELY APT comparison!! (also racism is a factor with that, because Gasp, Those Icky Brown People use spices, donchaknow)
if u have a haircut "a la Brutus" like BFB, you have to be willing to be casually bisexual a la the Romans, i don't make the rules (did you know the Romans were genuinely baffled by men who were exclusively and solely attracted to women? different thread)
Boys, if you're looking for advice on How To Do Cute, go ask this person, he's got a masterful grasp of color:
Also, if you're not in the mood for books, I also have a really good podcast about.... also books, hm, i see how this might be a problem, but! It's also about media and the role of fanfic in the literary conversation, check it out: betheserpent.podbean.com
Boys, look at this ICON. 😍 I'm GASPING, this is STUNNING
Ok boys, here's a dare: Go to the drugstore right now, buy a bottle of nail polish in whatever color makes you happy, paint your nails, send me a pic. :D
oh my goodness, you're too kind! paypal.me/ariaste if you feel like it (or just buy my book/rec it to your local library/yell about it on social media, that'd be pretty good too :D amazon.com/Conspiracy-Tru… )
Aaaaand one more thing, if you liked this thread but you are curious about how race intersects with masculinity and fashion, I refer you here, to one of my very dear friends, who can talk about it much better than I can:
oh also if you liked this thread you'll probably also really like this one, about Amazing Medieval Hammerpants and the invention of Japanese kabuki theater
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