The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
On Dress and Deporment:
"...They have a wonderful deal to do with courting, clothes have. It is half the battle. At all events, the young man thinks so, and it generally takes him a couple of hours to get himself up for the occasion. His first half-hour is occupied in trying to decide whether to wear his light suit with a cane and drab billycock, or his black tails with a chimney-pot hat and his new umbrella. He is sure to be unfortunate in either decision. If he wears his light suit and takes the stick it comes on to rain, and he reaches the house in a damp and muddy condition and spends the evening trying to hide his boots. If, on the other hand, he decides in favor of the top hat and umbrella--nobody would ever dream of going out in a top hat without an umbrella; it would be like letting baby (bless it!) toddle out without its nurse. How I do hate a top hat! One lasts me a very long while, I can tell you. I only wear it when--well, never mind when I wear it. It lasts me a very long while. I've had my present one five years. It was rather old-fashioned last summer, but the shape has come round again now and I look quite stylish.
But to return to our young man and his courting. If he starts off with the top hat and umbrella the afternoon turns out fearfully hot, and the perspiration takes all the soap out of his mustache and converts the beautifully arranged curl over his forehead into a limp wisp resembling a lump of seaweed. The Fates are never favorable to the poor wretch. If he does by any chance reach the door in proper condition, she has gone out with her cousin and won't be back till late.
How a young lover made ridiculous by the gawkiness of modern costume must envy the picturesque gallants of seventy years ago! Look at them (on the Christmas cards), with their curly hair and natty hats, their well-shaped legs incased in smalls, their dainty Hessian boots, their ruffling frills, their canes and dangling seals. No wonder the little maiden in the big poke-bonnet and the light-blue sash casts down her eyes and is completely won. Men could win hearts in clothes like that. But what can you expect from baggy trousers and a monkeyjacket?..."