Lord Chesterfield’s Letters

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July 4, 2015 by Ville Raivio

“Your dress (as insignificant a thing as dress is in itself) is now become an object of worthy of some attention; for, I confess, I cannot help forming some opinion of a man’s sense and character from his dress; and I believe, most people do as well as myself. Any affectation whatsoever in dress implies, in my mind, a flaw in the understanding…A man of sense carefully avoids any particular character in his dress; he is accurately clean for his own sake; but all the rest if for other people’s. He dresses as well, and in the same manner, as the people of sense and fashion of the place he is. If he dresses better, as he thinks, that is, more than they, he is a fop; if he dresses worse, he is unpardonably negligent; but, of the two, I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress yourself fine, where others are fine; and plain where others are plain; but take care always that your clothes are well made, and fit you, for otherwise they will give you a very awkward air.  When you are once well dressed for the day think no more of it afterwards; and without any stiffness for fear of discomposing that dress, let allyour motions be as easy and natural as if you had no clothes on at all. So much for dress, which I maintain to be a thing of consequence in the polite world.”

— Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, to his son on 30.12.1748


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"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
~ Beau Brummell

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