Bring back the dandy

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In one of my many experiences of sharing songs with children, I had a conversation about the word “dandy”, in the context of discussing the words of “Yankee Doodle”. One youngster saw a correlation between the word in question and dandelions, which seemed strangely appropriate, in a “stream of consciousness” kind of way.

Dandyism is an underrated attribute in the minds of many men. “Real men” are not supposed to care about clothes, accessories or grooming products. I remember hearing an influential music promoter talking disparagingly about a leading jazz musician who passed away recently, referring to his penchant for spraying himself with expensive fragrances.

I have also read in the past about groups of famous male soul singers being waylaid on tour by hoodlums who were out to seize their jewellery. Could this account for the contemporary attraction to tattoos as status symbols of male body adornment, seeing as they cannot be removed from a person’s body without specialised skills?

Mature dandies can be fascinating. Some mature men dress up flamboyantly because they regard their grooming as part of their job. Others dress up to express individuality.

In David Hockney’s most recent exhibition at The Royal Academy (about a year ago), a portrait of Barry Humphries (of Dame Edna Everage fame), dressed in colours and textures that seemed to echo the style of George Melly – the celebrated singer and writer, now of blessed memory, slotted in nicely into my idea of what mature dandyism could look like.



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