While some mainstream histories attribute dandyism to white men in the 19th century, there is a much broader reality of Black people (including women and femmes) who have also employed this philosophy and lifestyle of dress, thought, and comportment in their own lives, both historically and within the contemporary moment. Black dandyism, like any other kind of dandyism, seeks to exalt dress and self-fashioning to a place of aesthetic, intellectual, and often moral sublimity, commonly resulting in a revolution of elegance, subtlety, and intention. Black dandies, however, by virtue of being racialized, present a unique set of subversions to systematic conventions of racial, gendered, and class-based hierarchies and value systems. As such, Black dandyism is made political, even with or without the specific intention of the wearer. Here are five sources from our Library that explore and interrogate the style of Black dandies across the world and across time.
About The Author
Kai (they/them) is an aspiring cultural and fashion historian. Their work centers the body politics of beauty, clothing, identity, glamour and style and their interactions with the meaning-making functions of the fashion system. Their work also attempts to decolonize exclusionary historical discourses by centering the histories of queer and Black peoples who have been systematically obscured from collective memory. Kai is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where they received a BA in Art History and the Cultural History of Dress and Fashion.