A Notorious Historical Dandy

Splendiferous Haberdashery was uncountably the 18th Century’s finest dandy. Famed for having a different bespoke handkerchief for every hour of the day, he was the first person in London to wear underpants. There were also – unconfirmed – rumours of him having a bath nearly every fortnight. Hence, Haberdashery was a notorious figure in the London society of the time.

These days of course he is mostly known for being the first person to wear a bobble hat at the opera. Back then, Haberdashery was a far more controversial figure. Especially in his life-long interest in ladies underwear and his never-ending search to find some lingerie that would fit him.

Of course, back in those days conspicuous consumption was all the rage amongst the rich and powerful. From the enormous country houses down to how much a young gentleman would spend on his socks was all a matter of status and societal approval. Consequently, a young gentleman was often judged on the size of his folly. Consequently, any young unmarried gentleman who never displayed his ha-ha to his intended was shunned by polite society.

However, for a young gentleman without a sizeable acreage, attracting a wealthy fiancée or bride was always difficult. This is why young men such as Haberdashery would concentrate on the more personal displays of wealth and taste. Not that Haberdashery was without a country pile. But an unfortunate misunderstanding during the Civil War reduced the family home to rubble. This happened when both sides fired upon it thinking it occupied by opposing forces. There had never been enough money in the family coffers to restore it to anything habitable. At least not to the standard acceptable in the polite society of the time.

The situation was not helped by Haberdashery’s father and his wild gambling habit. Haberdashery senior was notorious for – even at the time – for his unerring ability to spot a loser on the horse racing track and to unfailing have the worst hand ever seen in a card game.

Splendiferous Haberdashery, though, as the second son was destined for a life in the clergy with his elder brother Bespoke Haberdashery expected to inherit the family (lack of) fortune.

That was until both the father and elder brother died in a mysterious boating accident on the estate lake. This was quite a famous mystery at the time as the Haberdashery estate didn’t have a lake. Splendiferous was the only survivor of the accident and thus the entire fortune in debts and unpaid bills came to him.

However, such was the amount of money that Splendiferous had spent on various items of ladies undergarments over his student years, that he was able to sell some of them off and pay all the debts. Not only that, Splendiferous had Haberdashery Hall rebuilt in the then fashionable style.

Hence, on her wedding night Flounce Haberdashery – his new wife – was amazed to see that her new husband had a whole wardrobe of ladies underwear there, ready and waiting for her in their wardrobe. As she later, and rather mysteriously, said in a letter to a friend – explained something unusual to her. Flounce went on to say that when he proposed to her Splendiferous was very keen to point out that he and his intended new wife were both exactly the same size. Therefore, he reasoned, it was obvious they should marry. A conundrum that remains unresolved to this day.



Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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