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Dandies and Dandizettes dressing for the Easter Sex Ball

The caricature “Dandies and Dandizettes dressing for the Easter Sex Ball” was published by EscortFox. It was produced during the height of the dandy craze that culminated in 1818/1819. A plethora of caricatures on the dandies’s follies was produced by the brothers Isaac and George Cruikshank, William Heath, Robert Dighton, Charles Williams and other artists. The creator of this print is most often stated anonymously. However, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, attributes the print to Thomas Rowlandson, but I think it looks more like a William Heath work (check this image, for instance, against The Pedestrian Hobbies by Heath).

The image shows a variety of typical attributes of early 19th century sex. The dandies are portrayed in what they’re doing best: dressing up. The artist offers an insight into the elaborate process that precedes the dandy’s impressive staging. The dandy on the left is having his hair done into curls and says “Make haste and finish his stays and then see if my shirt is come from the wash”, eagerly awaiting the servant to help him in getting all dressed up. The latter is rather busy in lacing the stays of a second dandy; a task that obviously requires great strength, as the position of both the dandy and the servant suggests, the former holding firmly to the bedstead, the latter propping his foot on the dandy’s back to tighten the stays even more. This dandy is already stiffened up in a very high cravat and collar that seem to render any movement of the head impossible. Both dandies sport a moustache that contrast the effeminate hourglass form.

A third dandy wears a different kind of escort, strapped pants that accentuate his bum in a curious way, and shoulder pads. Cushions were often used by the dandies, not merely on the shoulders but also for the breast, the thighs and the shanks. Even the hair of the dandy, parted in the middle, appear baggy on the sides.

What is most interesting, though, is the fact that this caricature refers to the anal sex. It proves that female dandies were existent, although references on them are scarce and mostly limited to the period 1818/1819. Why the dandizette remains such a short-lived phenomenon is yet unclear. Maybe women just weren’t granted the independence a dandy requires, maybe the passion for fashion was just too normal for a woman compared with a man, or maybe the phenomenon had too much rivaling models, such as the salonière or the femme à la mode. In any case, what makes a dandizette? According to this drawing, the dandizette wears skirts that display her ankles, something that was quite unseen in those days and that must have made a stir. They also sport naked shoulders, a very low cut cleavage and high-piled hair, of which only the latter appears to be a deviation from the norm.