**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Anecdotes Of Fashion
by [?]

We cannot perhaps sympathise with the feelings of her majesty, though at Constantinople she might not have been considered unreasonable. There must be something more powerful in beards and mustachios than we are quite aware of; for when these were in fashion–and long after this was written–the fashion has returned on us–with what enthusiasm were they not contemplated! When mustachios were in general use, an author, in his Elements of Education, published in 1640, thinks that “hairy excrement,” as Armado in “Love’s Labour Lost” calls it, contributed to make men valorous. He says, “I have a favourable opinion of that young gentleman who is curious in fine mustachios. The time he employs in adjusting, dressing, and curling them, is no lost time; for the more he contemplates his mustachios, the more his mind will cherish and be animated by masculine and courageous notions.” The best reason that could be given for wearing the longest and largest beard of any Englishman was that of a worthy clergyman in Elizabeth’s reign, “that no act of his life might be unworthy of the gravity of his appearance.”

The grandfather of Mrs. Thomas, the Corinna of Cromwell, the literary friend of Pope, by her account, “was very nice in the mode of that age, his valet being some hours every morning in starching his beard and curling his whiskers; during which time he was always read to.” Taylor, the water poet, humorously describes the great variety of beards in his time, which extract may be found in Grey’s Hudibras, Vol. I. p. 300. The beard dwindled gradually under the two Charleses, till it was reduced into whiskers, and became extinct in the reign of James II., as if its fatality had been connected with that of the house of Stuart.

The hair has in all ages been an endless topic for the declamation of the moralist, and the favourite object of fashion. If the beau monde wore their hair luxuriant, or their wig enormous, the preachers, in Charles the Second’s reign, instantly were seen in the pulpit with their hair cut shorter, and their sermon longer, in consequence; respect was, however, paid by the world to the size of the wig, in spite of the hair-cutter in the pulpit. Our judges, and till lately our physicians, well knew its magical effect. In the reign of Charles II. the hair-dress of the ladies was very elaborate; it was not only curled and frizzled with the nicest art, but set off with certain artificial curls, then too emphatically known by the pathetic terms of heart-breakers and love-locks. So late as William and Mary, lads, and even children, wore wigs; and if they had not wigs, they curled their hair to resemble this fashionable ornament. Women then were the hair-dressers.

There are flagrant follies in fashion which must be endured while they reign, and which never appear ridiculous till they are out of fashion. In the reign of Henry III. of France, they could not exist without an abundant use of comfits. All the world, the grave and the gay, carried in their pockets a comfit-box, as we do snuff-boxes. They used them even on the most solemn occasions; when the Duke of Guise was shot at Blois, he was found with his comfit-box in his hand.–Fashions indeed have been carried to so extravagant a length, as to have become a public offence, and to have required the interference of government. Short and tight breeches were so much the rage in France, that Charles V. was compelled to banish this disgusting mode by edicts, which may be found in Mezerai. An Italian author of the fifteenth century supposes an Italian traveller of nice modesty would not pass through France, that he might not be offended by seeing men whose clothes rather exposed their nakedness than hid it. The very same fashion was the complaint in the remoter period of our Chaucer, in his Parson’s Tale.