Statue of Beau Brummell in Jermyn Street. Photo used under Creative Commons.
Who? The personification of Regency dandyism, George Bryan Brummell (aka Beau) was aped and caricatured, worshipped and ridiculed. He was witty, caustic, and close pals with the Prince Regent, meaning he had no trouble borrowing a shilling or two.
Until they fell out, that is.
Typical look: Brummell supposedly took five hours to get ready every day.
In that time, he painstakingly bathed, shaved, and scrubbed his teeth. Then he dressed up in garb involving a linen shirt, dark coat, cravat, and trousers that went over the breeches (a novelty at the time). Testament to Brummell’s sartorial sway is his statue on Jermyn Street.
Stomping ground: When in London, Brummell usually plumped for the West End.
That could have been anywhere from the shops of Mayfair, to the bridleways of Hyde Park, to the theatres and brothels of Covent Garden.
Dandiest moment: Perhaps the most famous (and completely impractical) advice Brummell gave to the public was to polish their boots with champagne. An unnecessary expense, as Prosecco does just as well.
Who? The one who wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray and a bunch of poetry. You know – the one who said all those quotes on your mugs and fridge magnets.
Typical look: Hulking fur jacket. David Ginola hairdo. Smoking jacket. Chunky finger rings. Head propped up by hand. Slightly bored with your company.
Stomping ground: Wilde’s Chelsea house on Tite Street was where many of the literary dandy’s jaunts would start out.
The address has now been rather blandly refitted.
Dandiest moment: Popularising the wearing of green carnations – claimed by many to be an emblem of homosexuality.
Also, saying hubristic things to customs officers, which the mug and fridge magnet industry would later pounce upon.