Beau Brummell, the Guy to Know

2 Sep

So you are living in England, the year is 1800.  The pesky Americans have just gained independence and Charles, Prince of Whales is the royal to know.  Women’s fashion is deflating from large panniers and exotic fabrics to a simpler Grecian look.  You have no idea who Jane Austen is, but you do know who Beau Brummell is.

Beau Brummell was THE fashion icon at the start of the 19th Century, and is credited with creating the modern suit.  Born George Bryan Brummell in 1778, he became friends with the Prince of Whales while they were at school together.  Brummell then followed him to court and quickly gained a reputation for his wit and style.

Brummell gentrified the new fashion of wearing a riding costume when not riding.  His understated elegance made him popular with all generations.  He was meticulous in fit, style and color, using fine fabrics, simple colors, and, above all, the best tailors to be found in London.  With Brummell, the cravat was the key to the ensemble.  There are stories of him taking hours to dress each morning, and at least half that time was spent creating the perfect cravat.  There would be a pile of white linen to be re-ironed once he left the room- cravats that did not make the cut.  He was also addicted to cleanliness, and made shaving and daily bathing popular.

Beau Brummell was such a force unto himself that he still remained popular after the Prince ceased to be his patron.  It was only when his debts became too much that he was forced to flee to France to escape prison.

He never recovered any of his former glory while living in France, but posthumously you can find him all over the place.  He’s a character in novels, plays, movies, operettas and radio shows.  His name is used by rock bands, a hair salon, and for a clothing manufacturing award.  There is even a statue of him in London.

Trip to England, anyone?

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2 Responses to “Beau Brummell, the Guy to Know”

  1. Robyn Linden September 5, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    I only knew his name no thanks to a certain musical about a red headed child. Thanks for teaching me something! No thanks for getting a certain song about smiling in my head.

    • Louise Hamill September 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

      Yet another reason why I am thankful I’ve never seen that musical.

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