The Dandies Coat of Arms14 Mar 2020
George Cruikshank’s caricature „The Dandies Coat of Arms“ (1819) displays the elements that form the essence of dandyism, if understood as supremacy in fashion. The dandy is presented as a lifeless mask, a mannequin rather than a human being – make note of the hanger that supports the frock coat beneath the stays. The lifeless figure is supported by two monkeys and itself exhibits donkey’s ears. This de-humanization of the dandy is typical for the period of the early 1820s [you can read more about that in my latest book]. The central illustration, located where the human heart would be, a human being half man, half woman reveals the gender trouble that arises from the figure of the dandy who uses fashion and female elements to emulate the hour-glass shape of women: the stays, frills, and laces, but also paddings for the shoulders, the hips and the thighs [not depicted here]. Typical sartorial accessories that are revealed in this caricature include the monocle, the cravat ring, the gold chain, yellow gloves (gants jaunes, a common synonym of the dandy in France), and the spurs.
The dandy’s deviation from the norm is further achieved by the ridiculously high and stiffed neckcloths that reach up to the eyes and ears and that render any motion impossible. While the dandy wears a top hat, his grooms wear fools caps, another sign of folly as attributed to dandyism. The caps look a bit like a cock’s comb and bring up the association to one of the dandy’s synonyms, the coxcomb. They also were vials of Eau de Cologne, and, generally follow the dandy’s sartorial maxims.