Pretty Gentlemen by Peter McNeil explores the social, sexual and cultural associations of a little-studied period of London’s fashion history. Set in the 1800s, the book recounts the history of the macaroni, a group of male fashion victims known for their distinctive, almost comical, style of dress – high hairstyles, high French-style shoes, tight French-style suits, striped stockings – and bizarre accessories that included hanging swords and snuff boxes. McNeil examines the political and religious signalling of the macaroni style, as well changing definitions of manhood and male sexuality at a time when the middle-class, normative idea of family was emerging – ideas that remain relevant both in life and fashion today. Pretty Gentlemen has been described as ‘an instant classic’ and ‘almost unique in scholarly works on any era and its dress’ and has been critically acclaimed by the New York Review of Books, Literary Review, Times Literary Supplement, The Art Newspaper, World of Interiors, The New Yorker and Business of Fashion.
Researcher: Professor Peter McNeil