The origin of the term is not certain — perhaps it was a diminutive of the name Andrew — but what is certain is that the word dandy started to be used from the end of the 18th century even we have to wait until 1863 and the “poète maudit” (accursed poet) Charles Baudelaire for probably the most apt definition: a dandy is one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, while at the same time affecting a certain detachment, a determination to remain aloof.

And in fact the best-known of dandies, those that for generations have been used as examples and whose quotes still fill the social media, are generally from the 19th century:  Lord Brummell, considered the first prototype of dandyism, and then Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Baudelaire himself… as well as most of the male characters from the literature of the period.

Key elements: a life lived as if it were a work of art, elegance as a fundamental principle, more important even than money and power.

In 1932, John Player & Sons, an English make of cigarettes famous for the collectors cards inside the packets, printed a set of 50 cards dedicated to dandieswhich included Narcissus — considered the first real dandy in history (or rather, in mythology)  — but also an ancient historical figure such as Julius Caesar.

But characters such as Salvador Dalì and Gabriele D’Annunzio are also generally considered to be dandies and, today, a set of similar cards would probably have included Andy Warhol, David Bowie and perhaps even Lapo Elkann.

Because at the beginning of the XXI century the dandies made a comeback (if they had ever gone away). At least according to a book published by the German publisher Gestalten in 2013 and entitled I am Dandy – The Return of the Elegant Gentleman.


Giving style to one's character — a great and rare art!
Friedrich Nietzsche

And this is confirmed by the enormous number of magazines, particularly online, dedicated to male elegance and to neo-dandyism. Some of which have names that are in themselves a declaration of intent: Dandy Magazine, New Dandies, Dandyism.

The principle however remains the same, as is shown by this initiative by Franceschetti, a Marche-based brand of footwear that on the Facebook page Franceschetti Shoes under the hashtag #newdandythatis periodically publishes sayings and aphorisms about elegance and style to accompany pictures of its shoes and accessories.

But who is the dandy of today?

Without a doubt he is someone who spends more than most ‘ordinary’ men and women on tailor-made clothes and handmade accessories, who buys shoes Made in Italy , is photographed on streetstyle blogs, from The Sartorialist down, probably has thousands of followers on Instagram, where he is considered an influencer and is tagged with the #sprezzatura hashtag, even if, with all due respect to Baudelaire, Byron, Wilde and Lord Brummell, he is sometimes taken for a peacock