Monday, June 11, 2018


Beau Brummel
From Geri Walton:
“That part of the dress which it is now unlawful to name, seems of old to have had the singular virtue of discomfiting witches and demons. Every one may have heard how the bare vision of St. Francis’ inexpressibles put the devil to flight,”[1] was one nineteenth century description of men’s trousers, known as inexpressibles. They likely acquired their name because they were extremely erotic and fit so tightly they showed every nook and cranny of a man’s sexual organs, posterior, and muscular legs. In fact, they would have accentuated a man’s sexual organs even more if extra room had not been allowed in one thigh, which created a pocket where a man could position them.

Even with the pocket, inexpressibles left nothing to the imagination. Wearers created the image of a naked Greek God, as inexpressibles were usually pale in color. At least one person noted inexpressibles were a natural evolution:
“[They emanated from] small clothes to tights, from tights to inexpressibles, from inexpressibles to unspeakables, and from unspeakables to unmentionables, from unmentionables to shorts, from shorts to etceteras, from etceteras to continuations, and so on through antifeminines, remainders, masculines, and nether integuments down to the Quaker periphrase lower garments!”[2]
But whether or not that was true, one fact was true, eighteenth and nineteenth century inexpressible wearers had a variety of opinions about them. Some wearers found them difficult to get into and uncomfortable to wear because they were so tight and form-fitting. A reformed eighteenth-century dandy discussed the “goods and evils, the sense and nonsense of Fashion,”[3] by describing his daily chore of dandifying himself. He noted of his buff-colored inexpressibles:
“[They] were made to fit me much tighter than my skin; and being of no very yielding texture, they fairly compressed it into plaits and wrinkles. To get into them, for the first time, without the assistance of the tailor who had made them, and who, from much practice and patience, and no little ingenuity, was up to every difficulty and device in the art and mystery of ‘trying on,’ was impossible. And even with all his aid and encouragement it was an awful task.”[4]
The reformed dandy did eventually pour himself into his new inexpressibles “by dint of strength, and dextrous management, it was accomplished in about half an hour … though, by my mental measurement of time, it seemed but little short of half a life-time — so wearisome was it both to flesh and spirit!”[5] Another wearer claimed buckskin inexpressibles were “far tighter than the skins of those whom they tormented, [and] were nearly as bad in the effects they produced.”[6] As with the reformed dandy, a first-time inexpressible wearer noted the first time he put on a pair “the strength and skill of the maker of them, backed by one or two able-bodied assistants, were indispensable.”[7] However, the real tug for movement usually began after the wearer poured himself into his inexpressibles. (Read more.)
Stewart Granger as Beau Brummell


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