Regency Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

Though not specifically mentioned by Jane Austen, it does not take much reading up on the Regency to come across descriptive terms for generalizing a young man's London habits. Bucks, Beaus and Dandies (and Corinthians) make their appearance throughout fiction set in this era. It can be hard to decipher just which character qualities are inherent to which, now obscure, terms such as Beaus and Dandies. The following definitions, excerpted from Jennifer Kloester's 2005 book, Georgette Heyer's Regency World, give a more complete picture. Heyer, herself, was known for her meticulous research and knowledge of the era and is considered one of the foremost experts in the field. This book is based on her own catalog of facts and historical insights. Northanger Abbey's John Thorpe is an ideal Regency Buck. Northanger Abbey' The Buck The term generally referred to to bloods or sporting types, but could also refer to a man of spirit. The buck usually stood out from the crowd and a 'buck of the first head' was a man who pursued every kind of pleasure and often surpassed his friends in debauchery. Persuasion's Sir Walter Elliot considers himself a Beau. Persuasion' The Beau Despite the literal meaning of the word, a man did not have to be handsome to be a beau. Although several of the Regency beaus had pleasing countenances, the epithet was applied more on a man's place in the fashionable world rather than his looks or dress. To be a beau, a man needed either vanity, idiosyncrasy, a desire for attention or remarkable good looks and town polish, but above all, he had to have 'Presence.' Northanger Abbey's Henry Tilney is, perhaps, Jane Austen's most perfect hero. Northanger Abbey' The Corinthian: This term described the well dressed athlete. A Corinthian was a man who...generally excelled in all the sporting  pursuits including fencing, single-stick, boxing, hunting, shooting and tooling his carriage--usually a curricle--preferably with the kind of skill  that would see him admitted to the Four-Horse Club. He would also be a man of good character, addicted to all forms of sport, at home with all classes and able to cut a dash at Almack's or blow a cloud with the roughest pugilist at Cribb's Parlour. Mr. Knightley considers Emma's Frank Churchill to be a dandy of the highest order. Mr. Knightley considered Emma The Dandy The word 'dandy' came into fashion in about 1813 and was used to describe any man who paid particular attention to his clothes and appearance. The Regency was a great age of the dandy, and they were the leaders of fashion during this period. Until 1816 Beau Brummell was their king; it was he who ordained that a well dressed man concentrated on clean linen, exquisite tailoring, a perfectly tied neckcloth, a dark, well cut coat and a general air of understatement. The elite circle of men who gambled, drank and played together set the fashion for  a host of eager imitators, many of whom aspired to join their ranks...A dandy was generally uninterested in sporting ventures, though he might be proficient in some or all of them. pppic50 The Nonesuch or Nonpereil He was the incomparable man, one who excelled in all the manly pursuits but was also an arbiter of fashion and a leader in all things aesthetic. He was a man of taste, a person people deferred to, watched and often slavishly copied. He was a setter of fashion, not merely a follower...his appellation was applied by those who admired his handling of the ribbons (driving), his manners, dress and his athletic ability. Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Bingley is perhaps the jolliest of 'Jolly Good Fellows'. Pride and Prejudice's Pinks and Tulips These names of beautiful flowers were used by the Regency sporting journalist Pierce Egan to denote exceptionally well-turned-out gentlemen. A pink was a man at the height of fashion and a tulip was a fine fellow who dressed well. Sense and Sensibility's Robert Ferrars is undoubtedly in the Fop category. Sense and Sensibility' The Fop Like the dandy, the fop took an absorbing interest in his clothes. Unlike the dandy, however, the fop dressed for show, adorning his person with clothes of bold or unusual design or hue and embellishing with ostentatious jewels, frills, and furbelows. The fop craved attention and did everything in his power to draw the eye of the passer by. He was frequently a chatterer and deemed a vain fool by his peers...Many fops aspired to set a trend or create some new fashion and some took their clothes to extraordinary extremes--such as wearing their shirt collars so high that they could not turn their heads or wearing voluminous trousers or coats with overlong tails. A coxcombe was a particularly foolish and conceited Fop.
For more on Bucks, Beaus and Dandies, and many other, now obscure, aspects of Regency society life, read Georgette Heyer's Regency World Author: Jennifer Kloester

3 comments

I am so glad to have found a website that lists the proper terms to this fascinating period in dress history.

walnut3454 July 26, 2020

[…] did not necessarily have to be the height of fashion, and usually just meant a well dressed man (https://www.janeausten.co.uk/bucks-beaus-dandies/).  Many dandies were mocked using the terms Pink or “veritable tulip”, so it […]

Regency Reader Questions: Dandy, Macaroni, Pink and Bond Street Beaux – Regency Reader July 26, 2020

This article is so enlightening for the many fans of Georgette Heyer and other authors of Regency books. Thank-you!

elaine4bob July 26, 2020

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