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ReFashioning Men: Fashion, Masculinity, and the Cultivation of the Male Consumer in Britain, 18601914

Brent Shannon

n November 1893 the Cutters Gazette of Fashion, a prominent trade periodical for tailors, published the comments of a T. Patterson delivered before the Sheffield Society. In his address, Patterson celebrated the robust state of Londons mens tailoring and extolled the modern advances that had allowed its proliferation throughout the provinces and the Continent:
Fashions for gentlemen do not now originate across the channel, but in London, the great centre of the worlds life in so many things, she also becomes mistress in what relates to style and fashion in gentlemens dress. Nor are the provinces lagging behind so much as they used to. It is no unusual occurrence for a customer to ask for a certain garment or a special shade of color, that has just become the go in London. . . . Cheap travelling, and the display of the newest and latest fashions by the purveyors of dress, soon educates the public taste and informs the individual as to what is being worn. (165)

Pattersons comments suggest tremendous changes both in the popularity of fashionable dress and in English masculinity wrought by nineteenth-century developments of modern consumer culture.1 Indeed, the transformations in retailing and consumer practices during the half-century between 1860 and 1914 were nothing less than a revolution. The emergence of the large-scale department store, the massive expansion of the popular press in the form of inexpensive books and periodicals, and the rapid development of increasingly sophisticated advertising techniques brought about an awareness, availability, and affordability of clothing and an ever-growing variety of other goods. No longer regarded by the middle classes as the domain solely of women, the elite, and the inhabitants of sophisticated capital cities, fashion had become available to and desired by all male Britons. More significantly, Pattersons speech also suggests the eagerness with which commercial industries pursued and created these growing markets. The clothing

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trade was more than happy to expand its customer base by educating middle-class men about the consumable tools of the fashionable life. The enormous changes rendered by nineteenth-century commercial culture on the economic, social, and psychological lives of Britains consumers cannot be underestimated, yet their effects on male consumption and the social construction of masculinity have yet to be examined thoroughly, and mens gender and class performance via fashion, grooming, and consumer habits has been largely overlooked or ignored by cultural historians. Recent scholarship has dismantled separate spheres ideology that imagines men as producers and women as consumers and has challenged the notion of a Great Masculine Renunciation,2 in which nineteenth-century middle-class Englishmen adopted sober, unadorned business-oriented dress in an attempt to gain sociopolitical legitimacy. While the Renunciations ideal of male sartorial reserve is no longer regarded as a historical truth, its seemingly monolithic presence in popular Victorian literature has proven problematic for contemporary historians attempting to recover the social and consumer habits of the era and has hindered a more nuanced, rigorous examination of nineteenthcentury middle-class male engagement with clothing and shopping. Fashion and consumption are still largely gendered as the exclusive domains of women. The iconography of shoppingits spaces, its goods, as well as the very act of shopping itselfare consistently encoded as feminine. Consumption is readily linked to adornment and beautification of the body and therefore has historically been associated with the feminine and female vanity (Nixon, Have You Got 151). Men are believed to exhibit little interest in ornamentation or style, dressing instead for comfort and utility. Victorian and turn-of-thecentury fashion and shopping have conventionally been read only in terms of their effects on female consumersas evidenced by the recent historical and critical studies of Lori Anne Loeb, Elizabeth Langland, and Erika Diane Rappaport, which have explored the influence of consumer culture on femininity and the ways in which commerce and consumerism were culturally gendered as feminine during the nineteenth century. In this article, I examine how men, masculinity, and male consumption were imagined in the discourse of the burgeoning commodity culture and fashion industry, and how this discourse operated against, and alongside of, the Great Masculine Renunciations

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more conservative promotion of sartorial reserve and repudiation of consumer desire in Britain between 1860 and 1914. Merchants regarded Britains growing population of urban middle-class males as an untapped yet fertile market. They aggressively sought to increase mens interest in fashion and consumption, fueling an atmosphere of conspicuous consumption and pleasurable materialism that was made attractive and socially acceptable for large numbers of middle-class males. With the introduction of the department store and its massproduced goods came the birth of a large-scale fashion industry and an acceleration of mass-marketed fashion trends that broadened the range of acceptable masculinity that mainstream middle-class men could perform. I analyze the department stores expansion into male goods and its creation of male-friendly spaces as well as the heightened commercial and public attention directed toward male display to argue that proper middle-class masculinity had become a highly contested area whose parameters werent always as restrictive and reserved as the conventional image of sober, black frock-coated, stovepipe-hatted Victorian manhood suggests. For many middle-class Englishmen of the second half of the nineteenth century, fashion became a highly visual means by which to subvert the rigid and confining dictates of proper masculine behavior. Discerning what many of Britains middle-class males really wore from the popular rhetoric of periodicals, advertising, and conduct manuals is admittedly problematic at best. Moreover, determining what or how much men consumed through hard numbers is virtually impossible. Market research on Victorian mens consumer habits is nonexistent, and few financial records from the period have survived. My interest lies instead in the increased public discourse about mens consumption of fashionable goods between 1860 and 1914. I focus on the promotional strategies and advertising of the mens clothing market and on popular and commercial literature pertaining to mens consumption and overt sartorial display as evidence of an emerging recognition of the male market (if not of an overall rise in mens public participation in consumer culture). Certainly a gap existed thenas it does nowbetween the gender ideals celebrated in advertising and the reality of mens lives. Yet the significant increase in male-directed advertising, in available male-related items, and in spaces designed specifically for the purchase of those goods all point to a dramatic cultivation of the middle-class male consumer. With growing frequency, force, and

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finesse, marketers actively appealed to men, making their interest in fashion and shopping safe without violating existing taboos and norms of masculinity. The growing acceptance of male consumption and display created cracks in those taboos and norms and changed lateVictorian definitions of normative manhood in fundamental ways. Not only were men allowed access into formerly exclusively female spaces and activities, but they were also encouraged to have a visual, physical, erotic self to be appraised by the public. Creating Male Markets and Appealing to Male Consumers During the later decades of the nineteenth century, Britains rapidly emerging consumer culture invited middle-class males to transform conspicuous consumption and self-display through goods into publicly acceptable masculine behavior. Because such practices were traditionally regarded as effeminate by many middle-class men, advertisers and merchants worked aggressively to recast shopping and consumption as attractive activities for men, and the first step was to distance their consumer habits from womens. Gender distinctions have been an ever-present tool for merchants depiction of goods, and late-Victorian male-directed advertising and product display followed a system of rules and strategies that were consciously distinct from those designed to attract female customers. In shopping, as in everything else, masculinity and femininity were culturally represented in terms of a boundless system of opposites: while men liked the neat and simple display of a few spotlighted items, women preferred tables cluttered with bargains; while men focused on finding and purchasing a specific item as quickly as possible, women enjoyed lingering over options. This suggests that in order to recast consumption as an appealing masculine activity, both male consumers and merchants went out of their way to insist that it wasnt like what women did. To underscore this distinction, women were regularly portrayed as voracious, compulsive shoppers who overwhelmed both shop workers and their husbands with their insatiable desire for goods. When is a lady not a lady? went one of the popular jokes circulating among drapery and department store staff: Answer: When she attends a sale (Draper 992). Our Miss Gibbs, Adrian Ross and Percy Greenbanks 1909 musical satire of Harrods, recites another familiar joke by depicting women customers as overzealous shoppers who nonetheless fail to purchase anything:

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Well take a look at all the lot, All the lot, all the lot, But we will not Attempt to buy, Well look and try, But never buy! (5)

The reputed female obsession with shopping was pathologized, quite literally, when widely publicized accounts of female shoplifters, many from the privileged classes, popularized kleptomania as a newly recognized medical disorder and elicited growing fears of an epidemic rooted in the deviant desires engendered by the department stores seductive spectacle of goods. By the 1890s, Elaine S. Abelson contends, the female shoplifter had become a stock character, endlessly satirized in magazine articles, songs, and plays (8). If the familiar figure of the female kleptomaniac symbolized the extremes of aggressive female consumption, her foil in the popular imagination was the comically passive husband who surrendered complete control over his purchases to his overbearing wife. Magazine articles and cartoons increasingly took great pleasure in depicting men as the Submerged Sex, led about by domineering women shoppers (Hosgood 104). In 1900 the trade journal Master Tailor and Cutters Gazette offered what it believed its readership would recognize as a familiar portrait of the maddeningly weak-kneed male customer sent to purchase a suit for himself according to his wifes specifications:
After a particularly fervid demonstration of affability with all the members of the staff, the busy business man explains that he really did not know he wanted a suit, but his wife assured him that he did. This remark gives the game away entirely, and the cutter, who has been hanging on each little utterance, doubles round the corner, says an Ave maria, and resigns himself to his fate. (Queer Customers 46)

The Master Tailors male customer is entirely emasculated by his wifes control of his consumption, incapable of developing any opinions of his own regarding style or fit: When asked whether he requires the coat loose or fairly close fitting he replies, Any way; whichever you think best. The tailor eventually manages to guide the customer to a selection, but he returns again and again, presumably because his wife is dissatisfied with the tailors work. Through this system of negative gender-coded stereotypes,

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men were increasingly urged to take control of their consumption rather than leaving it to women. Women were too prone to abuse their role as primary consumers, either through compulsive shopping or by bullying their husbands and dictating their purchases. Female kleptomaniacs and harridan wives were convenient (and misogynistic) devices employed by male commentators to exaggerate all the negative connotations of shopping and relegate them to the female sex. Ridiculing passive, hen-pecked Molly husbands and squaw men who handed over their consumption to their domineering wives promoted male consumer agency. To foster male consumption, advertisers and marketers attempted to turn the gender-commerce bond on its ear not so much rejecting or replacing it as redirecting it to encourage men to shop. Thus, the old equation of women as consumers and men as producers was shifted to one in which women were bad consumers and men were good consumers. Men had to rise out from under the tyranny of their wives irrational, directionless, and even deviant shopping practices and assert a kind of consumption that was logical, focused, and masculine. Therefore, advertisers of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries developed a distinctly different commercial discourse considered more compatible with the male mindset. Convinced men wouldnt waste time reading the florid descriptions and hyperbolic promises seemingly indispensable to most Victorian advertisements, merchants were advised to court male consumers with advertising copy that was clear, brisk, and direct. Advertisers believed that men responded best to a business style (Garvey 181) that was not only modern, but also strenuous and masculine (178): effective ads clearly conveyed an attractive image of manly vigor and productivity. They strove to masculinize goods and to make the consumption of those goods appear safe and attractive by directly associating them with strong, robust male figures whose masculinity was seemingly self-evident. The most masculineand therefore most popularmale figures were athletes and soldiers, and their presence was used to make even ostensibly gender-neutral products masculine and appealing to male buyers. Cadburys Cocoa, for example, featured illustrations of energetic young sportsmen in its advertisements for decades. An 1885 ad in Punch promises STRENGTH AND STAYING POWER.To ATHLETES, while another from 1901 portrays a rugby player taking a moment during the game to enjoy a cup of cocoa (fig. 1). Similarly

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Fig. 1. Cadburys Cocoa advertisement. Illustrated London News 19 January 1901: 85.

rugged, eager young men were regularly shown playing tennis, boating, and engaging in other forms of vigorous outdoor recreation. The craze for bicycling in the 1880s and 1890s made it perhaps the most popular subject of ads idealizing the robust masculinity of the age. An 1890 advertisement for Ellimans Universal Embrocation, an all-purpose patent medicine, depicts a group of boys racing on bicycles and pennyfarthings and features the slogan Boys Race For It! (fig. 2). An even more decidedly masculine image to the latenineteenth-century British male mind was the soldier, who acted out the real life-or-death struggles on the battlefield that the athlete symbolically played at on the sporting field. The beef extract beverage Bovril, for example, adopted the figure of the soldier for an extensive series of military-themed advertisements at the turn of the century. One representative 1901 ad with the slogan Bovril is Liquid Life depicts two soldiers on the front line of the Boer War, one serving the other a warm cup of Bovril while he bandages his knee (fig. 3). Advertisers relied heavily on the conqueror image in the form of the soldier and the

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Fig. 2. (Above) Ellimans Universal Embrocation advertisement. Illustrated London News 25 October 1890: 535. Fig. 3. (Right) Bovril advertisement. Illustrated London News 2 February 1901: 173.

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quasi-military adventurer because it was a familiar Victorian icon that instantly evoked powerful jingoistic associations of British imperial might, high adventure in exotic far-off lands, and a rugged, unchallenged masculinity. The middle-class British male, these ads implied, could share vicariously in the enterprises of the British Empire by shopping for goods related to its exploration. In 1904, for example, Harrods department store took out an enormous front-page advertisement in the Daily Mail, explicitly addressed to male readers, claiming that while Madame may be securing a ball-dress in one department, . . . you in another can be emulating the example of past customers and be fitting out an Arctic Expedition, just as readily as you can secure a summer holiday tent outfit for but a few of you (Harrods Limited 1). At the turn of the century, the widespread patriotic fervor over the Boer War (18991902) provided the perfect opportunity to further the masculinization of shopping for men. Popular enthusiasm for Britains military engagement inspired clothiers to connect goods to the war effort and to market civilian versions of war-related merchandise. Window displays in city shops and department stores featured ever more elaborate military and patriotic themes that vied for the male shoppers attention. The widespread interest taken in the Boer War has been mirrored in the windows of retailers in every part of the country, declared the trade journal Outfitter in 1900 (Up-to-Date 1718). Perhaps the most enduring fashion to come out of the Boer War was the adoption of khaki fabric and colors to civilian fashions. Inspired by the new rugged material that evoked both British military might and the exotic locales of its empire, Britains civilian population rapidly turned khaki into a seemingly inexhaustible commercial phenomenon by 1900. Khaki fabrics and shades found their way onto neckties, handkerchiefs, hats, handbags, and even fine silks. The Gentleman in Khaki is responsible for a great revolution in mans attire, and khaki bids fair to be the only wear during the coming season (Memo for Buyers 11), observed the Outfitter in February 1900. Like the empire that inspired it, khakis dominance in mens attire spanned the globe, and the journal claimed it had swiftly spread to Belfast, New York, and New Zealand (11). It grew especially popular for mens athletic clothing, in particular golf and cycling outfits (London 5). Khaki mania seemed custom-made for the male market. The fabrics associations with the spartan, heroic life of the soldier and its marriage to athletic clothing created a virtually inexhaustible variety of highly

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masculinized goods marketed to an increasingly receptive male consumer base. Military-inspired fashion trends had emerged in Britain beforenotably during the Napoleonic erabut what made the khaki craze different were the technologies of the mass-consumer industry. With the development of large-scale industrial mobilization and modern advertising hype, new consumer trends could be publicized and sold not just to a handful of wealthy, in-the-know elite urbanites, but rather to Britains male populace as a whole. The Department Stores Influence on the Growth of Male Consumption The nineteenth-century development of the large-scale high street department store,3 which began in full force in the 1860s and 1870s, was particularly instrumental in the construction of middle-class males as consumers. Indeed, khaki achieved its widespread popularity in part because of the capabilities of the department store to massproduce and mass-market it to the middle classes. However, the department stores integral role in the cultivation of the male market has been historically obscured by Victorian commentators and advertisers who frequently portrayed the department store as a uniquely feminine space. Moreover, mens consumption is further eclipsed, albeit inadvertently, by the many important recent studies that have emphasized the department stores significant contribution to the feminization of urban centers.4 Most prominently, Erika Diane Rappaports work has traced how the development of Londons West End as a revitalized and booming shopping district in the decades surrounding the turn of the century was depicted by department-store entrepreneurs, advertisers, and journalists as an exclusively female space for consumption. The crowded and public metropolis, formerly off-limits to the domestic Angel in the House, was now portrayed as a sphere for female autonomy, pleasure, and creativity, as the retail revolution converted what was once the all-male domain of bankers, barristers, and businessmen into the center of female fashion, pleasure, and recreation (Shopping 3). With the addition of restrooms, cafs, libraries, and tea rooms, department stores broadened their attraction as places of inviting social rendezvous for middle-class women. Female consumers were soon indistinguishably linked to the department store in the public imagination: indeed, Harrodss sixtieth-anniversary souvenir

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booklet (1909) was entitled The House that Every Woman Knows (Honeycombe 14). Such social rhetoric reinforced gender distinctions and institutionalized stereotypes regarding women and consumption. However, this reimagining of the city not solely as a locus of business, but also as the core of a new publicly oriented social life surely affected the cultural lives and consumer habits of turn-of-the-century British men as well (Rappaport, New Era 137). Since at least the eighteenth century, much of the West End had been devoted to hotels, apartments, tailors, and hatters (not to mention prostitutes) patronized by Londons fashionable males. Many of the emerging department stores also catered to a mostly male crowd; at John Lewis & Co., for example, three-fourths of the staff and much of the customer base remained male throughout the period (Ferry 245). What remains to be acknowledged are the ways that the department store created a new urban social center for men as well as women and how it actively invited men to participate in Britains new consumer culture. The emergence of the department store and the opening of other fashionable public places for the middle classes provided an area in which men could become interested in fashionable consumption. Department stores strove to whet middle-class mens appetites for consumption and to transform them into active, public consumers by making available and affordable an ever-increasing variety of male-directed goods. The dramatic growth in mens items offered in Harrodss turnof-the-century catalogues provides a useful example of the increased promotion of mens goods. In its 1895 catalogue Harrodss Gents Outfitting comprises twenty-three pages (Victorian 96284).5 The items listed are mostly simple ready-made goods such as collars and articles of clothing that do not require a custom fit, such as pajamas. The few illustrations of clothing items are mainly limited to cuffs, collars, and shirt fronts. Eight years later, Harrodss 1903 catalogue devotes nearly twice the space for gentlemens clothingdespite an overall shrinkage in the catalogue size. Harrods now offers an impressive array of mens articles: coats, hats, socks, neckties, gloves, collars, pajamas, robes, and travelling rugs (Harrods General Catalogue 90743). The ready-made items include frock coats, morning coats, dinner suits, dress suits, lounge suits, Norfolk suits, shooting suits, motor clothing, and yacht crew uniforms. Most interestingly, the 1903 catalogue features a special perforated tear-out self-measurement form, with instructions, to be

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Fig. 4. Harrods SelfMeasurement Forms. Harrods General Catalogue, 1903.

filled out and sent to the storesuggesting another way males were invited to take an active role in consumption (fig. 4). Department store catalogues also reveal the surge in clothing accessories and other personal decorative items aimed at men at the turn of the century. Popular conduct manuals may have continued to insist that the true gentleman renounce most jewelry, limiting himself only to a watch placed in a waistcoat pocket. However, the everincreasing variety of tie pins, cuff links, and rings offered in Harrods and other catalogues demonstrates the department stores efforts to cultivate and supply a growing market of men eager to decorate themselves with expensive and eye-catching accessories. Harrodss 1903 catalogue devotes several pages to umbrellas, walking sticks, cuff links, cigar cutters, match boxes, cigarette cases, and gentlemens gold lockets. Not only did the variety of clothing options for men grow exponentially, but now those clothes required their own accessories for proper care. Fashion (18981905), the first periodical devoted to the sartorial concerns of a general male audience, featured an advertisement for Grunfelds Coat-Presser & Shape-Preserver, a special hanger designed to enable users to Press Your Own Coats and Keep Them Always in Good Shape (Grunfelds 24). Two years earlier, Fashion had

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Fig. 5. Mens wardrobes and dressers featured in Fashion. Beau Brummel, Jr. The Care of Clothes. Fashion December 1898: 15.

recommended several varieties of wardrobes exclusively for men and reminded readers that the care of clothes is of more importance than the purchase of them (fig. 5) (Brummel 15). Department store stock, advertisements, and advice such as this suggest that for the fashionable middle-class bachelor (who lacked the valets employed by the upper classes), the purchase and care of clothing had become a timeconsuming task. As the variety of available goods increased, department stores found the ready-made clothing market to be an attractive and profitable lure for male shoppers.6 Ready-made clothing items played a vital role in the success of the department stores, as they were perfectly suited to the large-scale shops philosophy of moving goods quickly in large quantities. Department stores quickly began producing and selling their own ready-to-wear items, and entire battalions of affluent customers deserted to the ready-made camp, calling on a tailor only for dress or fitted wear (Chenoune 69). Ready-made suits were widely available beginning in the 1860s, and by the turn of the century, most department stores offered a wide range of ready-to-wear mens and

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boys outfitting (Breward 17274; Jefferys 312). The success of readymade clothing struck a major blow to the tailoring industry by making affordable and stylish menswear available to a much larger number of British males. Many department stores seized an even greater share of the market by opening their own bespoke departments. By 1900 Harrods had opened a tailoring department headed by an Expert Cutter always on Premises to take Measures, and its catalogue boasted, Every care taken with detail and a Perfect Fit absolutely guaranteed in every Order (Harrods General Catalogue 1313). Not every department store offered tailor-made articles, but by 1900 nearly all had moved into creating environments devoted to cultivating and catering to the male market. While both William Leach and William Lancaster claim that mens shops didnt really take off until the 1920s and 1930s (Transformations 331; 181) and James Bavington Jefferys contends that the stores as a whole were not very successful in attracting men shoppers (313), most menswear departments had been established decades earlier and hadif not flourishedat least expanded in both size and number during the decades surrounding the turn of the century. Some department stores like Lewiss sprang from the mens clothing business, and several other major stores including Whiteleys, Debenham & Freebodys, and Barkers had moved into menswear by the 1870s (Adburgham 145, 153, 163). Harrods did not open its own Gentlemans Outfitting department until 1894, but then pursued the mens market vigorously. By the early 1900s, its ready-made lines and personal tailoring services offered a full range of mens items from military uniforms to motoring topcoats. A 1911 promotional brochure outlined the attractions of Harrods as a Mans Store:
Harrods have devoted very careful attention to the development of the Mens Departments. They have a high-class Tailoring Department, employing expert cutters and workers; a Ready-made Department which sells ready-made clothing of the best standard, most of which is made in Harrods own workrooms by their regular tailors and which is stocked in such a great variety of sizes that almost any man can be satisfactorily fitted in a few minutes. (fig. 6) (Wonderful 11)

Tailoring shops had always existed as hermetically masculine domains. However, the department store was a decidedly more heterosocial environment and perhaps more immediately associated in the Victorian mind with feminine pursuits. While department stores were well-known sites of female employment and activity and therefore

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Fig. 6. Harrods as a Mans Store. The Wonderful Development of Harrods in Twenty-One Years (1911), 11.

already attracted a variety of eager and flirtatious male voyeurs, flneurs, and suitors, the belief persisted among merchants that the majority of men avoided patronizing the large shops. Department stores therefore worked aggressively to attract middle-class male patrons by affirming their masculinity at every turn. Harrods insisted it was very popular with gentlemen (Wonderful 11) and strove to increase that popularity by providing posh smoking and club rooms spaces that were designed to replicate other familiar masculine environments. Harrodss Gents Club Room was modeled after the exclusive gentlemens clubs of the West End, furnished, according to its own publicity, in the style of the Georgian period carried out in richly carved and moulded mahogany (qtd. in Adburgham 273). Its spacious Mens Hairdressing Lounge was decorated in a neo-Jacobean style with a massive fireplace and plenty of thick chairs that invited male patrons to linger. William Whiteleys, the self-proclaimed Universal Provider, attempted to lure male customers by offering a daily shave with an annual subscription to its hairdressing department, and the Drapers Record reported that a department store in Blackpool advertised a private mens room offering newspapers, free cigars, and coffee (Lambert 181; Lancaster 182). Perhaps most aggressive of all in

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Fig. 7. A. Wallis Mills. Comfort in shopping is all very well, but this sort of thing is a bit embarrassing when one has only come to buy a collar-stud cartoon. Punch 24 March 1909: 207.

targeting the male consumer, Selfridges devoted much of its advertising to luring men into the reputedly feminine department store (Rappaport, Shopping 172). In March 1909the same month Selfridges opened on Oxford StreetPunch printed a cartoon by A. Wallis Mills depicting a dismayed male shopper greeted at the entrance of a department store by its overeager and officious staff (fig. 7). As uniformed doormen take his hat and cane, frock-coated shop assistants bow deferentially, and a shoeshine boy enthusiastically attends to his shoes. One sign posted at the entrance offers Free breakfast, luncheon, tea, and dinner to all our customers, while another declares, We are doing this because we love you so. The cartoons caption reads, Comfort in shopping is all very well, but this sort of thing is a bit embarrassing when one has only come to buy a collar-stud. Millss portrait implies a possible backlash against the aggressive enticements employed by department stores to court male customers; after all, the poor shopper seems to express some dis comfort at the lavish attentions he is receiving. Still, the cartoon demonstrates that the mens market was recognized and actively cultivated by department stores. Modern large-scale stores were particularly

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instrumental in constructing males as consumers in the way they moved the site of male consumptionfor middle-class men, anywayfrom the private and intimate small tailoring shop to the large and very public and heterosocial middle-class department store. Raising Male Sartorial Awareness The popular literature of the periodincluding the traditionally conservative genre of the conduct manualreflects the growing public attention paid to mens fashionable consumption. Significantly, conduct literature, which had no interest in the manufacture and sale of clothing and grooming items, nevertheless mirrors other representations of masculinity and male dress celebrated by advertisers, department stores, and fashion magazines. The Major, author of the popular conduct manual Clothes & the Man (1900), claimed that social attitudes regarding mens public investment in fashion had undergone a dramatic shift and offered in response an invaluable guidebook aimed squarely at middle-class men. Conversational and good-natured and always economical, his advice provided excruciatingly detailed and methodical instruction on what articles of clothing to buy, how to have them fitted and made, when and where to wear them, and how to care for them. Of its 196 pages, the book devoted 46 pages to coats; the proper purchase and wearing of tie pins merited 8 full pages of discussion. The 42 pages regarding the proper fit of trousers demonstrates a significant change from the markedly vague advice offered by earlier etiquette manuals and their repeated assertions that the true gentleman was never to think of fashion. Mens conduct literature had historically reflected popular middle-class anxieties regarding the effeminacy equated with the dandys idle status, flamboyant mannerisms, and fastidious attention to the minutiae of dress. Certainly, antagonism toward effeminate behavior accelerated during an age in which rugged masculinity and athleticism were enthusiastically celebrated by popular culture. Any man who seemed to care too much about his appearance risked accusations that he was weak and womanish, and upper-class dandies and mincing shop clerks were familiar caricatures in popular culture. Direct associations between effeminacy and homosexuality, however, did not emerge until Oscar Wildes gross indecency conviction in 1895.7 The highly publicized trials irrevocably outed underground Victorian

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homosexuality, linked Aestheticism to deviant male sexuality, and rendered any evidence of effeminate dandyism and sartorial excess immediately suspicious. Yet the heightened public anxiety regarding so-called deviant male sexuality did not necessarily have the farreaching effects on mainstream male behavior at the turn of the century suggested by Jon Stratton, Jeffrey Weeks, and others. While the emergence of the homosexual as both an identifiable pathological type and a comical stereotype served to define and regulate normative masculinity, there is little or no evidence to suggest a marked reduction in mens public consumption of goods and fashionable self-display in the years following the trials. The continuing development of mens shops in department stores and the proliferation of male-directed advertising, as well as the growing variety and versatility of menswear, strongly suggest that mens open interest in fashion and shopping did not decrease after the public outing of homosexuality in Britain.8 Indeed, during the supposed height of such fears of effeminacy, the new mens monthly Fashion repeatedly insisted that Englands men were widely held to the same sartorial standards as women. In July 1898 Fashion asserted that the study of dress is a duty, and a duty from a mans standpoint just as much as a womans. . . . [H]e should study dress, and he has just as much right to the subject as a woman (Our Friend 23). The January 1900 issue similarly declared, [T]o look well is part of the debt one owes to Society, since the seemliness of any assembly is the sum of the efforts of its units. Men as well as women owe something to Society (Baron, Personal Element 19). Fashions writers often took a subtle, indirect approach when urging men to attend to their clothing and appearance:
Colour is carefully studied by ladies in its relation to personal characteristics. It is perhaps asking a man to consider rather too curiously, if one remarks that not every man can advantageously wear, for instance, a pink shirt. Indeed one would not like to be understood as advocating the extreme and rather feminine delicacy implied in a consideration of what in a woman would be called the complexion in relation to clothes. Still, a sallow-faced man might just refrain from pink; and, at all events, any man can properly refrain from such a relation in the adjacent colours of a coat flower and a cravat as produces what women call (to resort once more to the vocabulary of the adored and adorable sex) a shriek. (Baron, Beau 10)

Fashions rhetorical stance explicitly equates the sartorial concerns of men with those of women. Men and women both have complexions that are affected by clothes; both have an equal social duty to dress well.

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Jill Greenfield, Sean OConnell, and Chris Reids study of the 1930s mens magazine Men Only observes that it frequently employed overtly misogynistic discourse to dispel any potential associations with effeminacy (18690). Yet thirty-five years earlier, Fashion exhibits little evidence of similar sexual anxieties or defense mechanisms. Rather than overstating its caseas we might expectby arguing that theres something manly about dressing well or emphasizing the differences between mens fashionable consumption and womens, its copy suggests unisex standards that draw the sexes closer together. Texts such as Fashion and Clothes & the Man reveal a new rhetorical arena the flip side of the Great Masculine Renunciationin which mens open interest in fashion was affirmed. It is . . . a mistake to suppose that a well-dressed man is a fop, declared the Major (16). At the turn of the century, dressing well and cultivating ones appearance could be the prerogative of every respectable man. To be fair, other etiquette manuals and periodicals during this time did acknowledge male sexual anxieties by recasting fashion as a necessity to ensure social and professional success. Best Dressed Man (1892) explained that while dress is an insignificant thing, it is still an object worthy of very careful attention, whatever may be said to the contrary. It is unquestionably a thing of consequence in the polite world (6263). After all, reminded the Glass of Fashion (1881), it was a social responsibility to conformwithin reasonto popularly accepted conventions, a duty we owe to others as well as to ourselves to make the best of our personal appearance (166). Failing to do so meant risking social stigma. Conduct writers repeatedly stressed the importance of keeping abreast of popular trends and adhering to current fashions and warned of the humiliation that resulted from sartorial faux pas. In 1902 author G. R. M. Devereux clearly laid out the stakes:
Nothing in the world is easier than to sneer at those who follow fashion, and expend time and thought and money on the subject of dress. But such sneers do not alter the fact that some attention should and must be paid to the prevailing fashions. Looking at it, too, from another point of view, if you have a certain number of friends, and receive a certain amount of attention from them in the way of invitations, &c., it is your duty to go to their houses and their parties suitably attired; if you do not you will quickly find yourself excluded. (19)

Devereux suggests the way in which concern over fashion could be artfully transformed into a positive, masculine quality. Mens interest in

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fashion and personal appearance, their vigorous efforts to keep up with current fashions while still conveying the proper sartorial image of middle-class reserve, could be justified to ensure male professional success. By the end of the period covered in this study, advice literature and popular periodicalsas well as the fashion industryregularly insisted that a mans careful maintenance of his physical appearance and sartorial image was vital to his professional success. Pope and Bradleys 1912 clothing catalogue, for example, emphatically asserted: It savours very much of cant and hypocrisy for any man to say that he does not study dress in one form or another. It is absolutely imperative for a man nowadays to study his appearance. As a business, a professional or a social asset it is a very potent factor, and it is the privilege only of the millionaire and the pauper to be able to dress badly (Bradley 55). In this way, mens interest in fashion was recast. While the ostentatious display of the dandy may have been socially stigmatized, the costume necessary for professional success demanded a dandys level of care and commitment. The Marketing of the Male Body and Male Self-Display Addressing the symbiotic commercial relationship that had emerged between masculinity and goods in Britain during the 1980s and 1990s, Frank Mort observes that male sexuality is produced through commodities: [W]hether jeans, hair-gel, aftershave or whatever . . . [i]t was the display of the body through the product that was sexy (201). Stratton argues that until very recently, advertising avoided presentations of the male body as much as possible, keeping it hidden, invisible, and that the goods most popularly accepted by men have been those not associated with body image but rather with more vaguely defined masculine self-image such as cars, tools, cigarettes, and alcohol (185). He contends that the display of the male body in advertising began only in the late 1960s (187), while Mort (199201), Sean Nixon (Exhibiting Masculinity 29394), and Tim Edwards (5154) all insist that the popular commercial sexualization and fetishization of mens bodies and their relationship to consumer goods (in ways in which previously only womens bodies had been subjected) did not emerge until the mid-1980s. Yet, as I have argued, fully a century before, advertisers and marketers actively strove to masculinize goods, to create intimate

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Fig. 8: Cadburys Cocoa advertisement. Punch 13 June 1885: n.p.

connections between products and male consumers, between goods and male bodies. An 1885 Cadbury advertisement from Punch magazine, for example, depicts a privileged gentleman in recreational dress (white trousers, short-sleeved shirt, boater hat, sweater cast over his shoulders) enjoying cocoa, while he and his seated female companion watch a boat race taking place just out of frame (fig. 8). The man stands in the foreground, his all-white sporting outfit contrasted against a background of mostly blacks and grays emphasizing his physical prominence. While his companion reclines languidly, he is all straight lines and right angles. His pose is one of confident, even aggressive, male sexuality: one leg propped up on a chair, prominent buttocks, chest thrust forward, bare muscular arms, long sideburns, and a whiskbroom mustache. In ways strikingly familiar to a modern audience reared on advertising, the ad conflates consumer and sexual desiresappealing to female viewers who want the man in the advertisement, male viewers who want to look like the man, and inducing both to want cocoa. Ads such as this one for Cadbury demonstrate how nineteenthcentury audiences were invited to gaze upon the spectacle of the male

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bodyto acknowledge the physical, sexual presence of the male form. Late-Victorian advertisers, as well as department stores and the other tools of the consumer industry, created a culture increasingly focused on goods and visual display. Between 1860 and 1914 commercial discourse sought to expand middle-class mens variety of sartorial choices as well as their interest in self-display in ways not always openly recognized within the strict confines of the Great Masculine Renunciation. Consumer culture fostered a more open, publicly acceptable relationship between men and goods, between clothes and their bodies. As the period marked a growing public awareness and cultivation of the male body, men were presented as both subjects and objects, as both viewers and displayers of visible, sexual bodies. In the increasingly visual culture of late-nineteenth-century Britain, men were acknowledged to possess a physical self in ways that had formerly been suppressed. This public visibility often manifested itself in a more open recognition of the sexuality and sexualization of mens clothing and appearance as seen through womens eyes. To be sure, etiquette literature throughout the Victorian era continued to recite conventional sexual dichotomies, implying that women were preoccupied with fineryand could be judged accurately by their dresswhile mens desire to be looked at and admired for their physical appearance was vain and immoral and would be punished by women who rejected their foppish show. Certainly, many men of all classes ignored such admonitions and sought to attract women through conscious sartorial display. But by the turn of the century, advice in some conduct manuals and popular periodicals had radically shifted in tone, offering open acknowledgments and apologies for mens desire to attract the opposite sex through physical appearance. It is the female appreciation we men all make for, Best Dressed Man confessed, not such as the male unwillingly accords. What reasoning man gives thought to the value, sometimes quite fictitious, put upon him by his own kind? The best of us never gets full value from his fellows. The least worthy not seldom gets more than this from woman. Therefore it is that men of intelligence always play for the better stake (32). In February 1905 Fashion contributor Bessie OConnor declared:
Some men are vain enough to imagine that neither men nor woman [sic] pay any attention to the clothes of a man. There never was a greater mistake than this. . . . Every woman notices whether a man is well dressed or not, and whether he is careful of his personal appearance. (56)

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OConnors warning can be taken as typical of an emerging popular discourse that urged turn-of-the-century men to cultivate the attentions of the opposite sex through a growing freedom in, and variety of, socially acceptable sartorial choices that accentuated the male body and celebrated masculine sexuality. Fashion sources from the later decades of the nineteenth century indicated that men had moved toward decidedly form-fitting, body-revealing styles. The Cutters Gazette of Fashion announced in 1893 that the tendency is certainly towards close fitting garments (48), and Fashion noted in 1898 a decided tendency to shapeliness (What the World 6). Fitted frock coats, fitted jackets, fitted pants, and neckbrace type collars were the mode among all classes, and suits emphasized longer and more muscular torsos, padded shoulders, and tight waists (Chenoune 92). In 1879, the English-French Journal des tailleurs complained, The absurd fashion for tight clothes now in vogue has reached the point where you no longer know where to put your wallet and handkerchief (qtd. in Chenoune 89). The Tailors Review went even further, suggesting that form-fitting mens trousers left little to the (female) imagination:
Women are beginning to object to and discuss the garments of men. They say . . . that pantaloons form a fashion which should be subjected to immediate consideration; that the spectacle of males attired in a garment so closely approximating the exact shape of the legs is not at all relished by feminines of high moral character. . . . If men are shocked by the sight of a lady in tights, or au naturel, is it not to be conjectured that women regard with loathing the current habit of mankind of clothing the legs in an envelope that reveals only too acutely outlines that might be left to the imagination? (108)

Interestingly, when the Major explains the slimming effects of a strategically placed row of buttons, he implies that the average wife may, similarly, disapprove of her husbands interest in his appearance:
Some double-breasted waistcoats are made with the two rows of buttons set wide apart across the chest and gradually getting closer, till they nearly meet at the bottom of the waistcoat. There are advantages to be derived from wearing such a waistcoat. They tend to make your chest appear larger than it really is, and the two rows of buttons meeting at the bottom of the waistcoat make your waist appear a trifle smaller than it really is. If your wife tells you that a man has no business to think about having a waist, you can retort that primitive man had a waist considerably smaller than the waist of primitive woman. She wont like that. (64)

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This dramatic shift in conduct manual rhetoric suggests that the overarching Victorian societal mores no longer depended on a strict gender dichotomy that distinguished womens vain preoccupation with finery and physical beauty from mens more substantial and cerebral pursuits. Now men and womens vanity in personal appearance were implicitly equated in their mutual desire for a slimmer waistline. While both writers acknowledge female disapproval of male display, one wonders if the Tailors Review accurately represented womens response to mens tight-fitting trousers. Male legs were widely regarded as the chief male erogenous zone for nineteenth-century women, and many men paid particular attention to the development and display of their legs (McDowell 76). Nevertheless, in both of these excerpts, mens preoccupation with fashionable display is depicted as transcending mere sexual approval from the opposite sex. Here men are portrayed as vain, but it is a vanity clearly condoned by the Major. In 1850 Adam Blenkinsops A Shillings-Worth of Advice on Manners, Behaviour & Dress warned, Never wear anything tight, because [b]y tight dressing you reveal the reality (22). It is doubtful that the fashionable youth with a preference for tight-fitting trousers sought to achieve any closer semblance of reality; certainly the gentleman with the narrowing waistcoat buttons did not. Indeed, the decades surrounding the turn of the century also saw an increased useor at the very least a more publicized useof cosmetic and body-shaping products that served, as Anne Hollander has suggested, to fictionalize the male body (32). If the evidence from tailoring commentators and advertisers is to be believed, these items were no longer solely the affectations of effeminate dandies, but were now worn by a large number of middle-class professional men. Advertising and department stores also made available and affordable to men an enormous variety of soaps, colognes, hair dyes, powders, and other articles marketed as useful for achieving and maintaining an attractive, youthful gender and class performance. The everexpanding size of gentlemens leather dressing casesdepicted in Harrods catalogues filled with a host of combs, brushes, scissors, files, and bottlessuggests more and more toiletries and other accessories were required (figs. 9a and 9b). Advertisers worked vigorously to counter associations with femininity through strategically worded advertising copy that appropriated womens beauty concerns and masculinized them. A Williams Shaving Soap advertisement of 1895, featuring an illustration of a man scrutinizing his skin through a magnifying glass, declares,

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Fig. 9a (left): Gentlemens fitted traveling bag in Harrods Catalogue 1895 (Victorian Shopping 1061). Fig. 9b (right): Gents dressing cases from Harrods Catalogue 1895 (Victorian Shopping 1245).

Pores! Do you realize what they arehow numerous, how very hungry and thirsty? Little mouths of the skinconstantly drinkingdrinking eatingeatingeverything within reach (fig. 10). The ads subject matter depicts conventionally female beauty concernsskin, complexion, the delicate minutiae of pores. But the tone turns decidedly masculine and aggressive: Nothing comes nearer the skin than your shaving soap! You apply it with the brushand, as it were, force it into those willing little mouths. While it is unclear just how persuasive ads like these wereand precise sales figures do not existmens soaps, shaving supplies, and toilet powders had become big business by the turn of the century. Corsets also seem to have been particularly popular. The Tailor and Cutter reported in 1884 that a large number of our fashionable men are going in for stays or corsets and ten years later that the corset is worn by thousands of men (qtd. in Cunnington and Cunnington 284, 344). Renowned English dressmaker Charles Frederick Worth,

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Fig. 10: Williams Shaving Soaps advertisement. Punch 23 February 1895: n.p.

who for decades advertised his corsets in Punch, announced in 1880 that his company had now added a department for Gentlemen, and every class of Corset, . . . made to measure. Twenty-five years later another Worths Corsets ad was directed to Officers and Gentlemen. Both ads depict an erect, broad-chested mustachioed male modela figure of overt masculinity clearly intended to reassure male customers by dispelling any connotations of effeminacy in the wearing of a corset (figs. 11a and 11b). Fashion perhaps worked hardest of all to popularize

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Fig. 11a (left): Worth et Cie corset advertisement. Punch 31 July 1880: n.p. Fig. 11b (right): Worths Corsets advertisement. Punch 4 January 1905: v.

the corset for men. Beginning in 1903 the magazine launched a multipronged offensive to dislodge the powerful association, in its male readers minds, of corsets with extreme dandyism and effeminacy. In an effort to masculinize the corsets use, Fashion euphemistically advertised the corset as a mens belt and downplayed conventional associations with femininity by emphasizing its benefits for the active, physical male lifestyle. As Worth observed in a Fashion interview,
By what one reads occasionally in the papers about corsets for men, it is evident that the popular idea with regard to these things is that they are worn principally by dandies. But my business has shown me that in reality, they are chiefly sought after by the most athletic and soldierly of men, who are desirous of keeping their figures in order, so that they may continue in the pursuit of their various sports without looking clumsy or unfit. (Corsets 16)

Another January 1903 article asserted that there are numbers of men, soldiers and good sportsmen, names well known on the polo ground and as hard and straight riders across country, who do not disdain the adventitious comfort and support of a good belt. According to the writer, the corset acts like a gymnasium belt to provide support during the rough-and-tumble of the Rugby game (Belts 8). The magazine also emphasized the health benefits of surgical corsets that enabled

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the wearer to follow sport or occupation without feeling the discomforts and disadvantages of his affliction (Corsets 16). Significantly, throughout its promotional blitz, Fashion never once suggested that the corset might be worn to improve ones figure. Rather, the magazine sold the corset to its male readers through strategic language that played upon late-nineteenth-century concerns regarding physical activity, manly stamina, and sexual virility. Contributors advised that when hunting in some of the wilder parts of the world, where the going was of the roughest, a good flexible supporting belt was of wonderful assistance in the preservation of ones staying powers (Belts 8). The wearing of a corset aided in increasing the output of individual exertion (9), warding off fatigue and prevent[ing] this retreat, as it were, of the bodily forces to a position of inferior strength and resistance (8). The periodical went even further to suggest that wearing a corset was almost a patriotic duty, as it helped maintain English masculinity: Whether hunting at home, or living a life of hardship and adventure abroad, there is scarcely a part of the world where Englishmen are not called upon to put forth their best powers, either in their own interests or in those of the state. The addition to their abilities and usefulness gained by a duplication of their power of endurance is self evident and needs no demonstration (9). Despite its initial campaign, Fashion must have understood that the air of effeminacy surrounding the corset lingered, as it continued attempts to dispel such notions in subsequent months. One contributor (who declared that no one had advocated manliness and good taste in mens dress more stoutly and unremittingly than I have) criticized the causeless prejudice against the garment, insisting, Men do not wear corsets or waistbands, as they are correctly known, from dandified and effeminate motives, but simply because the pressure against the stomach prevents or retards embonpoint (Masculine Modes 10). Fashion reader W. T. Astbury of Faversham wrote to the editor, I am a good tennis player. No one has ever accused me of effeminacy, yet my evening corsets are only twenty-five inches, and I am pleased to say I wear them closely laced (Fashions Monthly April 1903: 22). While a few disapproving readers agreed with the incensed letter-writer who protested, We have heard a great deal about the new woman. Is the corseted popinjay with the twenty-six inch waist to be the new man? Fashion reported that quite 75 per cent. of the letters addressed to the Editor on the subject were from male readers expressing enthusiastic

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approval, many of whom confessed that they had already been wearing corsets for years (April 1903: 22; May 1903: 22). Its impossible to determine whether men were wearing corsets in greater numbers than before, or merely admitting that they wore corsets in greater numbers than before; perhaps the letters from zealous readers were fabrications. In any case, Fashions aggressive promotion of the male corset offers a significant example of how nineteenth-century commercial interests sought to transform fashions and consumer behaviors once regarded as effeminate or transgressive into acceptable, desirable, even manly acts. Conclusion The discursive strategies of Victorian advertising, conduct literature, and fashion periodicals reveal a significant cultivation of a growing awareness of mens visible, physical, sartorial selves in Englandone that was becoming more socially accepted, more public, and more middle-class by the turn of the century. They mark a dramatic and significant reversal of the notions of male sartorial invisibility that had dominated Victorian rhetoric on masculinity only decades before. The commercial cultivation of male display helped bring about the public reemergence of the male body as aesthetically pleasing and sexually desirable. It also transformed the male body into an object to be modified, enhanced, and decorated through consumer goods. This acceptance of male consumption and display, fueled by the emerging consumer culture industry, fundamentally altered late-Victorian concepts of normative manhood. Whether advertisers continued to insist on the distinctions between male and female purchasing habits or attempted to obliterate those distinctions, the result was that men were invited to consume to the same extent as women. Men were allowed access into formerly exclusively female spaces and activities, as their consumption moved out of the conventional, old-fashioned, small-scale homosocial world of the tailors shop into the modern, large-scale, heterosocial world of the department store. They were invited to decorate and display publicly a visual, erotic self. All these changes mark significant shifts in both British socioeconomics and constructions of middle-class masculinity. But they also suggest the tremendous cultural influence and reach of the new capitalist consumer machine that now underpinned late-Victorian and early-twentieth-century Britaina force so powerful that it could blur long-held and fiercely defended

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gender differences, overcome deeply rooted social anxieties regarding homosexuality, and change once deviant items into mainstream masculine goods. Writing about late-twentieth-century commercial campaigns that sought to transform the traditional macho man into a cosmetics-counter-lurking clotheshorsea figure whom the twenty-first century has recently dubbed the metrosexualAntony Shugaar observes, Sharp gender distinctions have floated away on a wave of cash, and cash trumps gender every time (70). But such changes had begun over a century before, when the foundations of modern commodity culture had helped to overturn the Great Masculine Renunciation and transform Britains middle-class male into an eager consumer and the male body into an object of public display that could be altered, decorated, and even made into spectacle through goods purchased at the department store or tailors shop. Transylvania University

NOTES
1

There is no precise date pinpointing the start of modern Western consumer

culture, though historians such as McKendrick, Brewer, and Plumb; Bermingham; and Walsh argue that many of the elements of commercial capitalism and modern consumer societyincluding social emulation of the wealthy by the lower and middle classes, the development of a market for fashionable rather than utilitarian goods, and a growing availability of store-bought goodswere in place by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, much of the machinery vital to the ascent of a modernized capitalist culture of consumptionthe large-scale urban department store, sophisticated advertising and marketing strategies, the mass production of affordable ready-made items were not possible until the technological and commercial advances of the machine age.
2

First coined in 1930 by J. C. Flugel, the term Great Masculine Renunciation,

along with his portrait of a reserved and muted middle-class sartorial aesthetic offering little variety and scant change, has been popularly cited by scholars ever since. See, for example, Steele and Kuchta.
3

Adburgham (137), Lancaster (7), and Angela and John Airey (47) all suggest

the first two department stores were Kendal Milne & Faulker of Manchester (founded 1836) and Bainbridges of Newcastle (1838). Walsh and Corina identify far earlier eighteenth-century origins for the department store and its innovative commercial and display techniques. However, many nineteenth-century technological innovations including plate glass, flat-iron construction, elevators, electric lighting, and the telephonewere vital to the commercial success and cultural prominence of later shops and make the large-scale high street department store a uniquely Victorian invention.
4

First and foremost, Rappaports A New Era of Shopping and her Shopping for

Pleasure offer the best discussions of the transformation of Londons West End into a

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female consumers paradise at the turn of the century. See also Wilson, Leach, Tiersten, Bowlby, and Walkowitz.
5

Harrodss first catalogue appeared in 1870 and was 65 pages (Ferry 213). At Ready-made clothing had been available since the eighteenth century, but had

1,510 pages, the 1895 catalogue is the earliest known edition to survive (Victorian ii).
6

been worn mainly by the military and the lower classes. Wider acceptance was slow at first, but the advent of the department store, along with the development of the sewing machine in the 1850s, accelerated both the production and popularity of ready-mades among the middle classes in the second half of the nineteenth century. An 1860 promotional pamphlet distributed by prominent Victorian clothier E. Moses & Son made the claim that eighty percent of Britains population had purchased ready-made clothing.
7

What Edwards has termed in the twentieth century the constant slithering of

the not masculine into the effeminate and therefore the homosexual was not necessarily such an obvious or logical leap for most nineteenth-century Britons (4). Trumbach urges historians to acknowledge shifts in cultural models of homosexuality and to resist retroactively reading the past with contemporary understandings of homosexual behavior (14964). According to Weeks, nineteenth-century concepts of homosexuality were extremely undeveloped among the public at large, and neither the police nor the court were familiar with the patterns of male homosexuality (101).
8

The reason, simply put, is that dandies, decadents, and Aesthetes were all

regarded by the middle classes as upper-class male transgressors of gender (and, by extension, consumer) norms, while mashers, swells, and dudes were working- and middle-class male transgressors of class. There was always something implicitly effeminateand therefore implicitly non-(re)productiveabout the upper-class dandy. But the objections to the masher were never directed toward his masculinity; indeed, he was often perceived as too heterosexually predatory. Rather, he was criticized because he aped the upper-class sophisticate, often in very clumsy and crude ways. Mainstream middle-class masculinity and the consumption that had become an inseparable part of how it was defined emerged relatively untouched by the Wilde scandal and continued to move with the consumer industry that fueled it.

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VICTORIAN STUDIES