Book review: The History of Men’s Accessories by Nicholas Storey
The History of Men’s Accessories : A Short Guide for Men About Town is Nicholas Storey’s second book in a series of three. Last year, we reviewed the first book History of Men’s Fashion: What the Well Dressed Man is Wearing, and the third one will supposedly deal with sports, pleasures and pursuits for the man of the world.
In short, Storey’s History of Accessories is a Guide about Grooming, Scents, Accessories as well as unusual tidbits, fine eating, drinking, smoking and fine living. Just like in the first book, the title does not entirely hit the nail on the head, however by now we know that the publisher chooses the title, not the author.
Introduction & the EU
In the introduction, the author very clearly lays down his utter repulsion for the EU and what he calls the omnipresent ”martial rule of health and body fascists” and the “regulators who step in time to their death-in-life-funeral march”. On top of that, he unmistakably lets his readers know:”If you are with me on my general point, you will enjoy this book. If you are not, put this book back on the shelf.”
Grooming & Accessories
Subsequently, he continues with a chapter about grooming which is full of predominantly British brands, interesting history and tips.
Fortunately, throughout the book, Storey emphasizes habits and items that are as well appreciated by the general public, such as an encyclopedic listing of the major components of scents, while sunglasses and other popular accessories like Gillette Mach 3 are barely mentioned.
The History of the Dinner Jacket, Lord Dupplin, N Griswold Lorillard and the Tuxedo Park Club
The Dressing section starts out with a few remarks on slippers, smoking jackets and dressing gowns; the core piece of the chapter is the by no means “short” history of the dinner jacket, also known as the tuxedo. In great depth, with the help of Henry Poole and others, Storey reveals that it might have been Lord Dupplin in combination with the Prince of Wales in the 1870s – 1880s who invented the first “dinner jacket”. In 1886, the American James Brown Potter introduced to the US a dinner jacket from Henry Poole after he had seen it on the Prince of Wales and in the same year, according to the legend, N Griswold Lorillard wore, a short, Spenceresque dinner jacket, similar to a mess jacket, when he attended the first Tuxedo Park Club Autumn Ball. That’s why the dinner jacket is called a tuxedo in the USA today.
Accessories, Food & Drink
After that, Storey elaborates a bit about famous watchmakers and their past before he comes to accessories like pocket knives and money clips. He writes almost 3 pages each on tie stick pins and rings, but less than a paragraph on cuff links.
This is followed by an entertaining, 29 page long list of drinks, their recipes and history, as well as chocolate and all kinds of sweet delights. Subsequently, he expresses his thoughts on pairing food and drink (not just wine), provides a list with all kinds of noteworthy London establishments, and then he writes extensively about cigars, pipes, cigarettes and snuff.
Towards the end, he throws in a little bit of etiquette explaining how to make excuses and even how to stop a fight, before he express his advice for gifts for her. Prior to some final reflections on Great Britain, he provides us with a short Anglo-American Dictionary of Sartorial Terms. While both the index as well as the bibliography are quite useful, I was especially delighted that Useful Internet Resources listed the Gentleman’s Gazette on page 185.
Altogether, I enjoyed reading the book despite the fact that I neither hate the EU nor I do smoke. However, at times, I wondered why certain chapters or paragraphs were mentioned in this book, i.e. the Sartorial Dictionary as well as the history of the dinner jacket would have fit better into the first book. Also, there are merely 16 pages of black and white pictures in the middle of the book. More colored photographs throughout the book would have certainly been more desirable but probably also more expensive to print. In any case, I look forward to the final book in the trilogy.
If you are interested in more menswear books, take a look at our guide.
The History of Men’s Accessories : A Short Guide for Men About Town by Nicholas Storey
Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Remember When, Barnsley, February 2011
Hardback -192 pages