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Anecdotes Of Fashion
by [?]

On this subject old Camden, in his Remains, relates a story of a trick played off on a citizen, which I give in the plainness of his own venerable style. Sir Philip Calthrop purged John Drakes, the shoemaker of Norwich, in the time of King Henry VIII. of the proud humour which our people have to be of the gentlemen’s cut. This knight bought on a time as much fine French tawny cloth as should make him a gown, and sent it to the taylor’s to be made. John Drakes, a shoemaker of that town, coming to this said taylor’s, and seeing the knight’s gown cloth lying there, liking it well, caused the taylor to buy him as much of the same cloth and price to the same intent, and further bade him to make it of the same fashion that the knight would have his made of. Not long after, the knight coming to the taylor’s to take measure of his gown, perceiving the like cloth lying there, asked of the taylor whose it was? Quoth the taylor, it is John Drakes’ the shoemaker, who will have it made of the self-same fashion that yours is made of! ‘Well!’ said the knight, ‘in good time be it! I will have mine made as full of cuts as thy shears can make it.’ ‘It shall be done!’ said the taylor; whereupon, because the time drew near, he made haste to finish both their garments. John Drakes had no time to go to the taylor’s till Christmas-day, for serving his customers, when he hoped to have worn his gown; perceiving the same to be full of cuts began to swear at the taylor, for the making his gown after that sort. ‘I have done nothing,’ quoth the taylor, ‘but that you bid me; for as Sir Philip Calthrop’s garment is, even so I have made yours!’ ‘By my latchet!’ quoth John Drakes, ‘I will never wear gentlemen’s fashions again!’

Sometimes fashions are quite reversed in their use in one age from another. Bags, when first in fashion in France, were only worn en deshabille; in visits of ceremony, the hair was tied by a riband and floated over the shoulders, which is exactly reversed in the present fashion. In the year 1735 the men had no hats but a little chapeau de bras; in 1745 they wore a very small hat; in 1755 they wore an enormous one, as may be seen in Jeffrey’s curious “Collection of Habits in all Nations.” Old Puttenham, in “The Art of Poesie,” p. 239, on the present topic gives some curious information. “Henry VIII. caused his own head, and all his courtiers, to be polled and his beard to be cut short; before that time it was thought more decent, both for old men and young, to be all shaven, and weare long haire, either rounded or square. Now again at this time (Elizabeth’s reign), the young gentlemen of the court have taken up the long haire trayling on their shoulders, and think this more decent; for what respect I would be glad to know.”

When the fair sex were accustomed to behold their lovers with beards, the sight of a shaved chin excited feelings of horror and aversion; as much indeed as, in this less heroic age, would a gallant whose luxuriant beard should

“Stream like a meteor to the troubled air.”

When Louis VII., to obey the injunctions of his bishops, cropped his hair, and shaved his beard, Eleanor, his consort, found him, with this unusual appearance, very ridiculous, and soon very contemptible. She revenged herself as she thought proper, and the poor shaved king obtained a divorce. She then married the Count of Anjou, afterwards our Henry II. She had for her marriage dower the rich provinces of Poitou and Guienne; and this was the origin of those wars which for three hundred years ravaged France, and cost the French three millions of men. All which, probably, had never occurred had Louis VII. not been so rash as to crop his head and shave his beard, by which he became so disgustful in the eyes of our Queen Eleanor.