At Barnes and Nobles in the art books section, is a book entitled "I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman". Oh what a lovely book! It features 57 men from a variety of countries who love to dress, but more than that, as one of the Harlem dandies says, and I'm paraphrasing, being a dandy isn't just about wearing beautiful clothes, it touches every part of your life. Everything you do must be elegant, from your manicure to the objects in your home.
To be a dandy, male or female, is not for the timid. Although the men in this book are wealthy, it doesn't take money to dress creatively and well. One must have the eye. From very early, I have memories of clothes: my stepmother dressing me in a snowsuit in the fall to go play outdoors. I sat on the stoop in front of the building next to ours, dying of shame for having to wear the horrid thing in public, this from a kid that may have been 5 years old. Another memory: I'm at the convent, in the cellar next to the exit to the playground and I am putting on my coat. It is fire engine red, the most beautiful thing I own. Where it came from, I don't know, but it is exquisite, and when I put it on, I am magic.
Style, presentation: We have a responsibility as human beings to present ourselves as the elegant sophisticated piece of art that we are. If a person is separated from society for a certain period of time they lose the ability to make a presentation. Whatever way you present yourself when go out every day is the painting you have chosen to display. At your worst you are still making an aesthetic statement. When I went to live in the mountains to write my first novel, I was there for 2 years, coming out and going to a sophisticated bar in Portland it seemed to me that everyone was acting, putting on a show, posing. Which of course, they were. One is just not aware of that, being in the midst of it every day. Below are a few quotes from the greatest of all dandies, Oscar Wilde:
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.
No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead.
One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.
How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.
There is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose.
And the following quote that I have always felt to be the most beautiful remark, and the most heartbreaking, said to one's beloved. It was written in a letter to the idiotic and corrupt boy he fell in love with: If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.