Snippets 136. The American Gentleman’s Guide to Politeness and Fashion, by Henry Lunettes, was published in 1858. Ironically, “Henry Lunettes” was actually a pen name for Margaret Cockburn Conkling, daughter of politician and federal judge Alfred Conkling. One can understand why a pseudonym might have seemed necessary due to the subject matter of the book. Here is what Conkling considered an appropriate way for a gentleman to dress at the time:
The essentials of a gentleman’s dress, for occasions of ceremony are – a stylish, well-fitting cloth coat, of some dark color, and of unexceptionable quality; nether garments to correspond, or in warm weather, or under other suitable circumstances, white pants of a fashionable material and make; the finest and purest linen, embroidered in white, if at all; a cravat and vest, of some dark or neutral tint, according to the physiognomical peculiarities of the wearer, and the prevailing mode; a fresh-looking, fashionable black hat and carefully-fitted, modish boots, light-colored gloves, and a soft, thin, white handkerchief…
If you wear your beard, wear it in moderation – extremes are always vulgar! Avoid all fantastic arrangements of the hair — turning it under in a huge roll, smooth as the cylinder of a steam-engine, and as little suggestive of good taste and comfort as would be the coil of a boa constrictor similarly located, parting it in Miss Nancy style, and twisting it into love locks with a curling-tongs, or allowing it to straggle in long and often, seemingly, “un-combed and unkempt ” masses over the coat-collar. This last outrage of good-taste is so gross a violation of what is technically called “keeping,” as to excite in me extreme disgust. Ill, indeed, does it accord with the trim, compact, easily-portable costume of our day, and a miserable imitation, it is of the flowing hair that, in days of yore, fell naturally and gracefully upon the broad lace collar turned down over the velvet or satin short-cloak of the cavaliers and appropriately adorning shoulders upon which, with equal fitness, drooped a long, waving plume, from the wide-brimmed, steeple-crowned, picturesque hat that completed the costume.
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