Monday, July 01, 2013
A Night on the Town
How do you get ready for a night on the town? Do you wear a silk dressing gown while making up? Or do you sit in front of the mirror in your underwear? Do you spritz yourself with fragrance from Hermès? Or Chanel? And do you indulge in a little nip while getting ready? Or do you wait until you arrive at your destination to imbibe?
You may not give your going-out preparation much thought, but one who did was writer Beverley Nichols. In his book, All I Could Never Be, he described in detail how he dressed for a night out in 1920s London. This was a man who obviously thought highly of his Boucheron cuff links as well as his Fortnum & Mason shoes. And while the label-dropping might come across as a tad bit pretentious, the vivid description, brand names and all, paints a very stylish picture of a time when going out meant tails and top hat, not dirty jeans and dirtier flip-flops.
"tails by Lesley and Roberts in Hanover Square, waistcoat by Hawes and Curtis of the Piccadilly Arcade, silk hat by Lock in St. James's Street, monk shoes by Fortnum and Mason of Piccadilly, crystal and diamond links by Boucheron of the Rue de la Paix, gold cigarette case by Asprey of Bond Street, a drop of rose geranium on my handkerchief from the ancient shop of Floris in Jermyn Street. And on the dressing-table, waiting to be sipped, an ice-cold "sidecar," complete with its crimson cherry."
-excerpt from All I Could Never Be by Beverley Nichols (1949)
A 1926 tailcoat, not by Lesley and Roberts but rather Anderson & Sheppard. (via Savvy Row website.)
A vintage Silk Top Hat from Lock & Co.
Rock crystal, diamond, and black enamel cuff links from Boucheron, Paris, c. 1920. Available through Wartski.
Circa 1927 gold cigarette case (left) from Asprey, sold with a silver gilt case (right) at Christie's
Rose Geranium bath essence from the venerable Floris.
Photo of Nichols, at top, from "Bright Young People" by D. J. Taylor. Sidecar recipe from Vogue Cocktails by Henry McNulty