Antique Fashion and You

As we get closer and closer to springs cleansing breezes, you can bet your thawing asses that fashion designers are hard at work. Spring signifies change; spring signifies decadence; spring signifies new clothing lines from every firm, both major and minor, and bored looking models to exhibit them. Given the fact that I am a writer, it should be obvious that I know nothing about contemporary fashion. HOWEVER: I keep my ear to the literary ground, so I’m pretty “up” on trends from the 19th century, back when cars were “horseless carriages” and Ulysses S. Grand was cool. That being said, I intend for my audience to receive the above as a disclaimer regarding this article. In no way should one consider the fashion accessories I discus as vogue. I mean, you can, but be warned that if you do, people will consider you a moron. Or a cartoonist.

Indeed, It takes a special type of person to pull off these antiquated accoutrements, and that person died 100 years ago. Now, they exist purely for the enjoyment of people like me: people who like to look back at the past and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

Top Hat (also known as chimney pipe hat, beaver hat, high hat, and Abe Lincolns hat)

The top hat was perhaps the most ostentatiously phallic of all clothing articles ever. Today we complain about shriveled looking old men driving around in Ferraris, but at least they aren’t walking around with giant penises on their heads. I suppose the ability to doff one in the presence of a lady afforded the wearer some sort of pleasure, but nobody’s done that since Susan B. Anthony burned her metaphorical bra. Top hats were only useful when wandering members of the bourgeois found themselves needing to look taller in order to frighten off bears.

Today, people are only allowed to wear top hats if they are named Fagan and their occupation is teaching orphans to steal from the London gentry.

Coolness rating: 0

Watch Fob & Pocket Watch

Back before cell phones, people wore watches on their wrists, and before they wore watches on their wrists, they kept them in their pockets. The watch fob attached to the watch and then clipped on the jacket or vest of the wearer. Rabbits would often wear them, running around, claiming to be late. Although far more useful than the top hat, watches existed mainly to indicate the wealth of the wearer. Some watches, made from gold, were so further studded with jewels as to make the wearer a walking investment. The fob then, in preventing the watch from being stolen, wound up serving an even greater purpose than the watch itself. At one point in human history, the decision of a father to pass his watch and fob on to his son was the major rite of passage for the young man. Woe to the children who received their fathers watches right at the moment in time when the cumbersome timepiece became totally lame, making the moment filled less with somber portent than jackassery.

Coolness Rating: 0

Medals

At a certain point in time, soldiers were the most desirable men alive. A regiment would find itself stationed in Hamfredshire or some such place, and then the available ladies of the town would begin planning balls in the hopes that one of these dashing young men would navigate the minefield of whalebone hoop skirts and ask them to dance. The easiest way to discern the caliber of the man? The number of shiny medals that dangled like a rack of spare testicles from his coat. In attempting to capture a Miss Bennet, medals, and the stories that accompanied them (whether true or false, nobody really cared), played a major role.

Of course, this was all back when the civilized world still considered war to be civilized. Men took to the battlefield with the same “hurrah” and “good show” they would yell while hunting foxes with their basset hounds.

Coolness Rating: 0

Walking Stick

I believe that the general population considered the walking stick, or “cane,” to be cool right up until the moment old people began putting tennis balls on the bottom of them. Before that day, walking sticks came in all shapes and sizes, and a proper gentleman would have several in order to remain prepared for any sort of walking situation. I suppose that these gentlemen saw the stick as serving a dual purpose, being both fashion accessory and self-defense implement. What a better way to impress the ladies than by beating a dirty beggar senseless with a pearl handled cane? From Baker St. to Paddington Station, walking sticks abounded. Now, people under 70 only carry walking sticks when they are in the forest. Even there, the only time it is actually considered acceptable is when one finds the stick in the forest, at the beginning of the walk, and then leaves it there at the end. Bringing your own stick to a forest is like bringing your own matches to hell.

Coolness Rating: 0

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