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Beau Brummell’s Style Influence on Modern Old Money Fashion

Few figures in menswear history loom as large as George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840).

Beau Brummell – an English gentleman, dandy, and style icon – was a true influencer whose sartorial wisdom shaped fashion trends for generations, particularly the aesthetic now known as the “Old Money” look.

Brummell’s life and style have been the subject of numerous books, films, and TV shows, including the 1954 movie “Beau Brummell” starring Stewart Granger and Elizabeth Taylor.

Brummell’s influence on contemporary menswear, especially the refined elegance associated with Old Money style, is still felt today, and his statue on London’s Jermyn Street stands as a testament to his enduring legacy.

Beau Brummell’s Rise to Fame

Born in London to a middle-class family, Beau Brummell defied the odds to become a style legend.

He attended Eton College, where he first displayed his penchant for sartorial innovation by accessorizing the traditional white cravat with a gold buckle.

After inheriting a considerable fortune, Brummell joined the 10th Royal Hussars cavalry regiment, which would change his life.

However, as Brummell was not an aristocrat by birth, he used his father’s connections and a rare form of wit and charm to pave the way for his social ascent.

Brummell aimed to befriend the regiment’s patron, the Prince of Wales, future King George IV and his fashion style and humour impressed the Prince, leading to a close friendship that catapulted him to the upper echelons of English society.

Men’s Fashion Arbiter

In London, Brummell played a pivotal role in the “Great Male Renunciation,” a movement that rejected the flamboyant, French-influenced styles of the time.

Brummell advocated a more understated, tailored look, emphasising fit, quality, and simplicity.

These principles would later define the Old Money aesthetic and helped him become the undisputed authority on men’s fashion.

Brummell favoured plain shirts, waistcoats, cravats, full-length trousers, and boots, eschewing the ornate embellishments that were once the hallmark of men’s fashion.

His famous ensembles featuring a blue coat, buff waistcoat, white linen shirt, and dark riding boots have become menswear legends.

Brummell’s attention to detail and insistence on perfect fit set a new standard for gentlemen’s attire, one that Old Money adherents still aspire to today.

Beau Brummell’s Wit and Wisdom

Brummell was renowned not only for his style but also for his wit. His musings on fashion, known as “Brummellisms,” were eagerly collected by his admirers.

One of his most famous quips, “If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable,” remains a guiding principle for many men today, particularly those who embrace the understated elegance of the Old Money look.

We often share this wisdom with our clients, reminding them that true style, in the spirit of Old Money, is about effortless elegance, not attention-seeking gimmicks.

From his perch at the famous Bow Window at White’s Club in London, Brummell would cast his discerning eye upon the outfits of passing gentlemen, offering praise or scathing criticism as he saw fit.

This window became known as the “Beau Window,” a testament to Brummell’s influence and authority.

Brummell’s Fall from Grace

Despite his many talents, Brummell was not without flaws, as his extravagant lifestyle and gambling habits caught up with him, and he found himself drowning in debt.

A falling out with the Prince Regent, whom he had once famously snubbed by asking, “Alvanley, who’s your fat friend?” only worsened his situation.

In 1816, facing arrest for his debts, Brummell fled to France, where he would spend the remainder of his life.

Despite assistance from friends, he struggled with poverty and declining health, eventually dying penniless in a French asylum in 1840.

Beau Brummell Fashion Legacy

Though Beau Brummell’s life ended in tragedy, his influence on menswear, particularly the Old Money aesthetic, grew stronger with time.

His name has become synonymous with the understated elegance, quality, and attention to detail that characterize Old Money style.

His story has inspired countless products, songs, and cultural references, cementing his status as a menswear icon.

Brummell’s emphasis on simplicity, fit, and quality over ostentation remains the cornerstone of Old Money fashion today.

He popularized the suit, introduced full-length trousers, and favoured a more contemporary shirt with an elaborately tied cravat, setting the stage for the modern Old Money wardrobe built on well-tailored jackets, trousers, and impeccably crafted accessories.

Beau Brummell Styling Tips

There are several styling lessons we can learn from Beau Brummell’s approach to fashion and how to apply them to achieve a classic Old Money look:

Wear a cravat – The cravat, or its modern equivalent, the necktie, is a key accessory of the Old Money style.

The cravat can add a touch of elegance to any formal outfit, and feel free to experiment with materials, colours, and knots to find what works best for you.

Fit is critical – Brummell’s emphasis on perfectly tailored clothing is a central tenet of Old Money style.

Wear well-fitting jackets, trousers, and shirts that flatter your physique, and don’t be afraid to have them tailored to achieve the ideal fit.

Quality over quantity – The Old Money approach to building a wardrobe involves investing in a few high-quality, versatile pieces that will last.

Wear natural materials, like wool, cashmere, and fine cotton, and look for signs of excellent craftsmanship, such as hand-stitching and careful attention to detail.

Showcase understated wealth – Old Money style is about quiet luxury, not flashy logos or trends. Follow Brummell’s lead and opt for classic colours, patterns, and silhouettes that convey refinement without screaming for attention.

Grooming – Brummell was famous for his meticulous grooming habits, and this attention to personal care is a hallmark of Old Money style.

Invest in quality skincare, haircare, and fragrance, and always strive to present a polished, put-together appearance.

Conclusion

Beau Brummell’s life and style left an indelible mark on menswear, and his influence is particularly evident in the Old Money aesthetic.

His commitment to elegance, simplicity, and quality captivates fashion enthusiasts today.

By following in Brummell’s footsteps and incorporating his styling lessons into your wardrobe, you can channel a bit of sartorial brilliance and cultivate the rare fashion sophistication that is the essence of Old Money chic.

Though his story ended in tragedy, Beau Brummell’s legacy as a style icon and the forefather of the Old Money look will endure for generations to come.

With over twenty years of front-row fashion and styling events, collabs with haute-couture houses, and a PhD in Luxury Fashion, Laurenti is an expert in crafting personalized looks that depict old-money sophistication.

With years of expertise in high-end fashion collabs and a PhD in Sustainable Fashion, Ru specializes in curating eco-luxe wardrobes for the modern gentleman seeking understated refinement.

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