While nowadays there are many looks for men from the black skinny jean hipster to skate punk to preppy, many of them seem to be personified by a distinct desire not to grow up. Or a frightening excess of facial hair – which is perhaps overcompensation for feelings of insecurity in terms of their masculinity. The Dandy is a distinct look that is refined and is worn by those secure enough to know that elegance and masculinity are not necessarily polar opposites. Matt Fox is one such person and has a sense of style I’ve always admired. In addition he is one of the owners of the Fine and Dandy Shop, an online emporium which offers “accessories for dapper guys”. He was also nice enough to answer style questions for Style Defined.
How long has the Fine and Dandy Shop site been in existence?
We launched on October 31, 2008. It’s been just over a year and we couldn’t be more pleased with the response.
And how did it start?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to open a shop. But the cost of real estate in NYC has made it more of a dream than a reality. It was just over two years ago that I had the idea to give it a try online. The online world is so ideal for a niche market concept. It’s really incredible the number of people we’ve met online who identify as dandies.
What defines a Dandy?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a dandy as “a man who gives exaggerated attention to personal appearance.” In the modern world I think a dandy pays particular attention to the details of his dress and makes the extra effort to look his best each day.
If someone wanted to become a bit “dandified” how would you advise them to begin?
Is there one or two particular articles of clothing or accessories you’d recommend? I would recommend a couple of well-tailored suits and a few well-chosen accessories. A couple of great ties (or bow ties if he’s adventurous enough), a tie bar, a couple of pocket squares, and some great socks. It’s all about the details. The biggest thing is caring enough to take the time each day to look his best.
Are there any role models in film or literature for aspiring dandies?
Of course there are the obvious in literature like The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Great Gatsby. Recent films with dandy inspiration are Sherlock Holmes and Brideshead Revisited.
Do you think the interest in Dandies stems at all from a (negative) reaction to the modern world or technology?
I think it’s more of a rejection of the trend over the last several decades of casual dress. Casual Friday has been extended to each day of the week in many workplaces. But I think the tide is turning. Even the New York Times wrote recently about younger guys increasingly dressing up. TV shows like Mad Men probably have something to do with it but I also think recession is a factor. We all have to dress to impress (and keep our jobs).
And is there anywhere in particular to go to find dandies?
Take it to the streets! The best style inspiration is seeing the guys walking the streets of New York City. From the older, blue blood of the upper east side to the hipster dandies of the lower east side, the fashion dandies of 5th Avenue to the dapper Wall Street gents. Dandies are everywhere you look!