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History Corner







Decorum 1878- Swimming and Shaving



From Decorum: A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society (J.A. Ruth & Co., New York & Chicago)


Bathing Costumes: The bathing-dress should be made of flannel.

A soft gray tint is the neatest, as it does not soon fade and grow ugly from contact with salt water.

It may be trimmed with bright worsted braid.


The best style is a loose sacque or the yoke waist, both of them to be belted in and falling about midway between the knee and the ankle.

Full trowsers gathered in to a band at the ankle, an oilskin cap to protect the hair, which becomes harsh in the salt water, and socks of the color of the dress complete the costume.’


‘The Beard: The style of hair on the face should be governed by the character of the face.

Some people wear the full beard, not shaving at all; others long Cardigan whiskers; some moustache and whiskers or mutton-chop whiskers, or the long, flowing moustache and imperial of Victor Emmanuel, or the spiky moustache of the late emperor of the French.


But whatever the style be, the great point is to keep it well brushed and trimmed to avoid any appearance of wildness or inattention.

The full, flowing beard of course requires more looking after, in the way of cleanliness than any other. It should be thoroughly washed and brushed at least twice a day, as dust is sure to accumulate in it, and it is very easy to suffer it to become objectionable to one’s self as well as to others. If it is naturally glossy, it is better to avoid the use of oil or pomatum. The moustache should be worn neatly and not over-large.


‘In conclusion, our advice to those who shave is like Punch’s advice to those about to marry; “Don’t!” There is nothing so adds to native manliness as the full beard if carefully and neatly kept.


Nature certainly knows best; and no man need be ashamed of showing his manhood in the hair of his face. The person who invented razors libeled nature and added a fresh misery to the days of man. “Ah,” said Diogenes, who would never consent to be shaved, “would you insinuate that Nature had done better to make you a woman than a man?”’



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