“I am glad I bought my bonnet, if it is only for the fun of having another bandbox!” –Pride and Prejudice
Those were the days, back in the 19th century—before central heating or air-conditioning, when folks wore elaborate outfits in the dead of winter and even in the sweltering summer months as they played whist, drank tea, and gambled away their fortunes in Baden-Baden. Ah yes, the 19th century, what a time for decadence, failed revolutions, and dandies. What a time to stroll along the boulevard with you.
Now given that everything vintage is in, and that our unbearable cultural nostalgia will eventually consume everything else and have to start defiling stuff pre-1900, I figured this would be a pretty good time to check-out some of the best accessories and accouterments from the 19th century. Plus, it’s Entropy Fashion Week!
Whether you’re attending to a Regency Era dance, a Dostoevskian dinner party, or simply killing off a rival lover in a duel at dawn, you ought to do it in style!
#1. The Pince-nez
While I’m still not sure how to pronounce this word, I can describe it like so: “Glasses but better.” Here’s Chekhov rocking a pair:
Look at that fine eyewear. The pince-nez came in many varieties, including the Hard Bridge, Spring Bridge, and C-Bridge (seen above). While these spectacles were falling out of style by the turn-of-the-century, they were still featured prominently in stories such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.” Now you stay gorgeous, Anton.
#2. A Muff
Forget mittens and gloves and whether or not the fingertips have touchscreen sensitivity, the muff was once the hand-warmer of the loveliest of us!
#3. One’s Calling Card
Before text messaging or SnapChat, the calling card was where it was at. Here’s how you expanded your social circle in 19th-century England. But you only succeeded if you followed the intricate rules of the calling card rituals. Good sir, if the mistress of the house has said she isn’t home, then you must be on your way—for propriety’s sake!
It’s important to note: A lady’s calling card was typically larger than a gentleman’s, since his had to fit in his breast pocket.
#4. A Muslin Scarf
This fabric is apparently the best fabric ever. So if you’re wearing a dress, scarf, or other drape-y garment, make sure it’s made of muslin.
#5. Your Pet Dog
Looking to have an affair in Yalta? Well, the first thing you need is a discontented horny person who’s grappling with the existential ennui of daily life. But the second thing you need is a pet dog!
Pet dogs are amazing accessories. Sure, Paris Hilton kind of reignited this trend with Tinkerbell. But really I like to think Paris was paying homage to Chekhov’s Anna Sergeyevna. Also, while the Pomeranian in Chekhov’s story is never named, I’ve always called it “Daffodil.”
#6. The Walking Stick
If only we could make walking cool again. But wait … there’s a way! If we bring back the walking stick!
#7. A Set of Recently Used Dueling Pistols
The contemporary dating scene got you down? Wouldn’t it be way easier if you could weed out your competition through derring-do and marksmanship? Well then, invest in the most exciting of accessories: dueling pistols!
And remember, if you ever need a second, just send me an email—or better yet send me your calling card, and for sure I will be there on the appointed day, with an endless muslin scarf wrapped about me and my delightful, feisty Daffodill prancing in tow. We will cheer for you. And avenge you if need be.
Now see you in hell, Georges d’Anthès!
Entropy Fashion Week Line-up
- Monday: “LIT SCENE FASHION REVIEW”
- Tuesday: “From The Franzen to the Litbro: What Outsider Artists Can Teach Male Writers About Fashion”
- Wednesday: “Best Accessories of the 19th Century (Or Fashion Tips from Chekhov and Austen)”
- Thursday: “Fashion Week Special Edition: An Outfit For …”
- Friday: “The Many Fashions of The Queen of the Night“