The Crossroads of the Aether
It is only the shallow people who do not judge by appearances .
Oscar Wilde , ' The Picture of Dorian Gray '
" I have also the fame of being the first who ever passed the Straights with two canes , a morning and an evening cane .
I change my cane as the gun fires ...
It is wonderful the effect these magical wands produce . I owe to them even more attention than to being the supposed author ... "
A dandy undertakes a Mediterranean holiday . Benjamin Disraeli , 1830 .
Well, these days it seems that one is a dandy if one owns a decent shoe polishing kit including a chamois (folded lengthwise so that one may dedicate separate sides to black, brown, and neutral), quality horsehair polishing brushes, quality cream polishes (I prefer nourishing the leather rather than using just waxes, which achieve a higher gloss but contribute less the longevity of the leather), nourishing/protecting products (I like Saphir renovateur for office and dress shoes, and a good leather grease or mink oil for more rugged outdoor footwear), and a shining wax for a finishing coat on selected dress shoes (glacage). And shoe trees.
For the holidays I gave my beloved a little box of shoe polishing service "coupons", so that he may on occasion feel like a lord and leave his shoes or boots out and find them expertly shined the next morning. I can warmly recommend this as an inexpensive and personal gift (provided you can polish a pair of shoes to satisfaction - if not, go practice!) to any busy and discerning gentleman (father's day gift perhaps?).
My habit of polishing shoes after every wear arouses much local mirth .
Being able to put my shoes out on occasion would be nice; unfortunately I would likely be dissatisfied. Old Army Sergeant, you see.
I quite agree with nourishment over shine. I use Saddle Soap for my working boots; it leaves a descent shine even after the dust and grime starts to accumulate. For my casual and dress shoes, I use Mink Oil. For those occasions when I want a very high shine, I get lazy and break out my patent leather ankle boots; I find that a good wipe with a damp cloth gets off any dust.
Ah - yes. The old dilemma that the time spent teaching someone to do a thing (well) takes longer than just doing it yourself... in the short term. It has taken me a while to learn to let go of tasks and delegate to students, knowing there will be errors at first. But you can't do everything. ;-) Whether due to low standards or to my abilities, the BF is very happy with my services. To be honest, I consider shoe polishing as much taking care of my belongings as a means to "looking sharp".
Forgot about the saddle leather in the kit. A must-have also!
I do have a pair of patent leather, I don't even try for that kind of shine in my other shoes - because that's what patent leather is for, ha! Just a light finish of shining wax. I'm not generally a big fan of mirror finish at any rate, I find a more discreet glow looks more gentlemanly, less "look at me!". But that's a matter of taste, for sure.
The great ' Beau ' Brummell was noted for the shine on his boots . When asked how it was achieved it he replied that he used champagne . This was one of the ' Beau's ' little jokes .
Another time he interviewed a valet whose late master had been famous for the shine the servant had given his boots . The valet was reputed to use a secret formula and all the Dandies were competing for his services . The interview had proceeded to the satisfaction of both parties and Brummell finished by asking what salary the valet would require .
" Two hundred pounds a year " was the startling reply .
" For that money " , replied the ' Beau ' , " I'd come and work for you . "
' As to temper the Jubjub's a desperate bird ,
Since it lives in a perpetual passion :
Its taste in costume is entirely absurd -
It is ages ahead of the fashion .
Lewis Carroll , ' The Hunting of the Snark '
A new biography of the Painter and Dandy , James Abbot McNeill Whistler ( 1834-1903 ) , has just been issued . This first full scale biographical account for twenty years is also the first to make extensive use of the artists personal correspondence .
Daniel E. Sutherland ' Whistler - A LIFE FOR ARTS SAKE . ' , Yale University Press 2014 ISBN 978 0 300 20346 2