This word became fashionable in England between 1813-16. It refers to at least two things, a man extremely interested in his clothes or a person or object of quality. It seems to come from the French DANDIN (NINNY, BOOBY9, but other theories exist. A particularly interesting one can be found in the NORTHAMPTON MERCURY of 17 April, 1819: Origin of the word Dandy. This term , which has been recently applied to a species of reptile very common in the metropolis, appears to have risen from a small coin struck by Henry VII, of little value, called a dandiprat. And hence…the term is applied to worthless and corruptible persons. This attack by a provincial newspaper suggests that the term was used not only for clothes but also for behaviour.
The presence of the Dandy must have been seen as a kind of challenge since dandysm often refers to arrogant behaviour. The taste for being different obviously went beyond ways of dressing. The prototype of the dandy was George Buyan Brummel (1778-1840) also known as Beau Brummel. This nickname reveals as unexpected link with the xviii century. Beau became fashionable at the end of the 17th century after the Restauration and was used to describe someone half-way between the Italian gallant and a man of fashion. Already in the 18th century. There were clubs dedicated to elegance and fashionable dressing. The germ of dandysm is probably to be found in these clubs. Beau Brummel, in any case, represented the cult of d. during the\ regency and the fashionable mirror in which Byronism reflected. He was the arbiter of elegance in the London of the beginning of the 19th century and no men of fashion risked not following his example. B’s fascination was not only superficial, however, since he became one of the Prince regent’s favourites to such an extent that the Prince used to cry if B. did not approve of his outfit.
A typical dandy used to wear brass-buttened dark jackets with tails that came down to the ankles and high collars. The trousers were almost skin-high boots. They wore waistcoasts which fitted tightly round the waist and were open on the chest to show the fills of the shirt and the tie.
A group of young man, bellimbusti, (the Italian word refers to their tight waist coat) famous for their insolent and affected ways, formed around B. They were no more than bad copies of the original, however, also influenced probably, by the rising wave of B. During his stay in French, the English Dandy of the early 19th century, Beau B., British counsel knew Barby d’Aurerilly, who, in 1845, published Du Dandysm et De George B. Though his book the word D, originally of French origins, returned to the French language. It was used by the decadent aesthetes, such as Byron and Huysmns whose book, A Rebours, describes a character Des Esseints, who later became the model for Wilde’s dandysm. The D. must be distinguished from the Bohemian. They are different ways of describing an exterior behaviour that corresponds to the artistic calling. While the Bohemian allies himself to the masses, the urban proletariat, the D. is a displaced bourgeois artist who, nevertheless and in spite of his unease, remains a member of his class (Binni).
“My first meeting with O. W. Was an astonishment – wrote W. B. yeats – I never before heard a man talking with perfect sentences, as if he had written them all overnight with labour, yet all spontaneous.”
W. himself said that he had put his talent into his words, but saved his genious for his life, and his best works seem to be reflection of his genious for spontaneous conversation. His mother claimed to be descended from Dante (her surname, Elga, seemed to be a corruption of Alighieri) and she encouraged her son’s literary aspirations. At Oxford he was known for his extravagant dress and his provocative epigrams: his ambition, he said, was to live up to his beautiful blue.china. He became famous as a leader of the aesthetic movement and a writer of poems, fairy stories and plays.