Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gorgeous Georgian Metrosexuals — or How to strut your Metrosexual Stuff in Georgian England

by LUCINDA BRANT



The term “metrosexual” was coined by Mark Simpson to describe a man (especially one living in an urban, post-industrial, capitalist culture) who spends a lot of time and money on his appearance. Urban Dictionary definition number 5 states: “A straight guy who’s so cool, smart, attractive, stylish, and cultured, that everyone thinks he’s gay. But he’s so secure in his masculinity that he doesn’t care.” Both these definitions can be applied to wealthy men in the 18th Century who had time and money to spare.
Throughout English (and French) history there have been men such as this but it wasn’t until the 1700s when the aristocracy and the upper echelons of the wealthier merchant middle class had the time and money that the metrosexual truly came into his own. Men aspiring to be gentleman spent as much time and money fussing about their looks and what to wear as did women, and the evidence is there in their clothes, daily practices and accoutrements.
With minor modification to Urban Dictionary’s definition of what it is to be a metrosexual today, here is my list (not definitive) of what it took for a gentleman in 18th Century England to be classified a Gorgeous Georgian Metrosexual.

You were "metrosexual" if:
  1. You employ a French hair stylist instead of a barber, because barbers don't do pomade and powder
  2. You own at least 20 pairs of shoes, just as many pairs of shoe buckles— some diamond encrusted, half a dozen pairs of gloves (in every shade), and you always carry in your frockcoat pocket an enameled snuffbox and a quizzing glass
  3. You aren't afraid to use padding in your stockings, if necessary, to enhance your male attributes. Strong, large calf muscles are a must. (What were you thinking I meant?)
  4. You cultivate white hands and polished nails; so necessary when taking a pinch of snuff and standing about showing off your calf muscles in mixed company
  5. You would never, ever, be seen in public without your cravat, same goes for hair powder when attending balls and routs
  6. You know and care just as much about dress fabrics, color and weave as your wife and are not afraid to share your expert opinion with anyone
  7. You don't rise before 11AM and then you sit around in your embroidered silk banyan and matching turban half the day sipping chocolate and sorting through cards of invitation
  8. You can't imagine life without your valet
  9. Despite being flattered (even proud) that gay guys hit on you, you still find the thought of actually getting intimate with another man unappealing

Thus for all your peacocking you are quintessentially male: You carry a sword and know how to use it, are good with your fists, love blood sports, shooting, horse racing and playing cards at your club with male chums. Dressed in a salmon pink silk embroidered frockcoat with matching silk breeches, old gold embroidered silk waistcoat, lace ruffles at your wrists to showcase your white hands, white clocked stockings to set off your massive calf muscles, an elaborately tied lace cravat, powder in your hair, a mouche at the corner of your mouth and wearing diamond buckled shoes with a heel, women swoon at the sight of you! Why? Because underneath that gorgeous metrosexual exterior is a real man just waiting to get his gear off!


16 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks to Lucinda Brant, Georgian Historical author for sharing this wonderfully entertaining tongue-in-cheek insight into the quintessential, Metrosexual Georgian Male.

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  2. Wow! Thanks to Lucinda Brant, Georgian Historical author for sharing this wonderfully entertaining tongue-in-cheek insight into the quintessential, Metrosexual Georgian Male.

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  3. Very funny and interesting piece of writing. I have enjoyed it, thanks :D

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  4. Interesting! What was so different between these Fench and Georgian gents and Beau Brummel? It is said that he spent five hours dressing... And the Prince Regent/George IV was very attuned to his style, but why do they stand out since this was already a long-established behavior?

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  5. I read about these types in Georgette Heyer's 'Powder and Patch', and 'These Old Shades'. She also mentioned a faddish group of men called 'Macaronis' in a few of her Georgian era books. Are the Macaronis the same as the Metrosexuals?
    Thanks for the post.

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  6. I loved this! Very lively and fascinating post.

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  7. You've described Harry Horner (aptly named) in Wycherly's The Country Wife -- the fellow to whom all men entrust their wives because they think he's gay. We do love this character! Thank you, Lucinda, we now know the word for him.

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  8. Wonderful post, Lucinda! Loved it!

    *Because underneath that gorgeous metrosexual exterior is a real man just waiting to get his gear off!*

    LOL!!

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  9. This is so great!!! I enjoyed it very much, and find it right on target! Excellently well done, Lucinda!

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  10. Enjoyed it, Lucinda, thanks. And so different to the Regency.

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  11. Fun and ineresting post, Lucinda. Wouldn't they be something to witness in person.

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  12. Thank you everyone for your kind and positive comments about my Georgian Metrosexuals! Sorry for the late reply to your posts but I teach full time so have very busy weeks!
    In answer to Sophia's question regarding Macaronis and Metrosexuals - Macaronis were more foppish and effeminate (didn't mean they were gay) and exaggerated in their clothing and tastes and the dandies that came after them (late 18thC) were just as interested in their appearance etc but not to the point where their masculinity might be questioned. So Georgian Metrosexuals seem to fall between the two - although it would be easy to interchange the Regency Dandy with the Georgian Metrosexual.
    And yes, Shelley, I would LOVE to go back in time and see a Georgian Metrosexual in the flesh and um in his salmon pink frockcoat too ; - )

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  13. Clever post about a favorite century of mine!

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  14. Wonderful - lots of fun and informative, too! Thanks so much for this post.

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  15. Love the information Lucinda about the Georgian historical era. And yes the padding in the stockings cracked me up. I thought padding for something other than calf muscles. Hehe.

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