Beau Brummell, or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Beau Brummell, or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Tags: History

If there’s one person to blame for men’s fashion being so dull and depressing, it’s George 'Beau' Brummel, 1778-1840.

He used his powerful friends, cruel wit, and passion for conservative style to rise in the social ranks until he became the Regency era’s biggest fashion influencer. 

Brummell is credited with inventing the modern suit. 

Before Beau, everyone in the upper class – men included – made a point of wearing glamorous fabrics, wigs, and jewelry. This was around the time when commoners started to question extravagance in political figures. Beau's monochromatic style leaned into this with an incredibly paired down outfit that he wore every single day.

And he told men things like this:

"To be truly elegant one should not be noticed."

Somehow, men ate it up. Or they feared insults from Beau and those who copied his ‘charm’.

Crowds would stand on the sidewalk and peer through his bathroom window, just to watch him get ready – which Beau spent FIVE HOURS A DAY doing. Personal hygiene is all well and dandy, but he needed most of this time to make his look appear ✨ effortless ✨.

Beau Brummell fixing his cravat tie in his bathroom while men outside the window watch, from the sideawalk.Image created with AI

He had three servants who were basically hair stylists that specialized in cutting different parts of his hair. His pants were so tight, he needed an assistant to get into them. And he paid more than 10 times a butler’s salary to have his own clothing made.

He piled up so much debt that he eventually fled to France, spent time in debtor’s prison, and was taken to an asylum shortly after, where he died.

But before this spectacular collapse, he played a crucial and unfortunate role in solidifying 200 years of fashion prison for many western men. The prison that makes men afraid to wear fabrics that aren’t blue, black, or grey. Afraid to wear certain cuts or textures. Afraid to express themselves with any flair outside of small details like socks, ties, and jacket liners.

Most men aren't even aware of the box they've been put in.

Three men in navy or black suits, and red, light blue, and dark blue ties.

Photo by Kampus Production

Thankfully, men’s fashion is now trending in the other direction. But let’s take a lesson here – don’t let anyone dictate your own personal style. Especially those with a pretentious, irreverent charm.


Tags: History

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