Wednesday, January 02, 2008

EDW: the cravat

Elegant, suave, louche and a certain indication that the wearer is not to be trusted. The cravat is an item of clothing worn only by the cad, the deviant, the bounder, the rotter or the charlatan and such its presence on a fellow's neck is a most valuable indicator that you should be on your guard.

I trust I am not prejudiced against the garment by the fact that, at university, I had the misfortune to share a flat with the most unspeakable Bavarian who used to wear a cravat as part of the over-bearing, pompous persona he was attempting to create. I have two cravats myself, and always like to wear them when on my very worst behaviour.

No item of clothing is better suited to getting up to no good (unless you had the doubtful fortune to be educated at a leading public school, in which case the old school tie meets the case equally well) for there is something rather magnificent about the cravat – provided it is worn correctly. A perfect indication of how to do this is Errol Flynn, here, a fellow whose louche and devilish manner perfectly matches the allure of the garment. In his personal life Flynn may have crossed that line that separates the cad from the bounder, but one must allow that anyone who dies aged 50, while holidaying with his 16-year-old chorus girl lover, his body worn out by boozing, heroin and womanising has something going for him.

This distinction between the cad and the bounder is an important one; as a rule of thumb the likes of Jeffrey Archer, Alan Clark, George Galloway and most of the men in the late Princess Diana's life are all bounders – it is not a thing to aspire to. The case of the cad, however, is more complex; we all enjoy a good cad.

Dressing in a cravat is an important part of the cad's role. It is a sure sign of self-awareness; he knows he is a wrong 'un, but should dress the part. The cravat is, after all, the ideal thing to wear when up to no good. It is important, besides, that any lady who should fall prey to the machinations of the cad is given the romance and excitement that comes from associating with such reckless types will, when it all ends as she knew it would, not be too broken-hearted (a bounder would have no such consideration) but, rather, have benefited from the experience. She cannot say she was not warned, after all.

PS: Interesting-ish fact. The word "cad" derives from a slang term for the conductors on the earliest London buses. (See section 131 here). They were a byword for rudeness, foul language and so forth – very far from the modern ideal of the cad – but the name's associations with bad behaviour must have stuck.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

That Bavarian forcibly manhandled me from the kitchen to his bedroom as he insisted I inspect his new cravats, lined up with Teutonic precision in his top drawer.

Anyway, he succeeded in becoming pompous and overbearing: my only surprise was that he didn't try to become a barrister.

10:33 am  
Blogger dominic said...

You're only jealous, quinky (and bill): of the three of you happy housemates, only the Bav has an appreciation society dedicated to him on Facebook

12:05 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

My 'uncle' always wears a cravat when he takes me to lunch...

Puss

11:52 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

I seem to remember a good explanation of the difference between a bounder and a cad that went something like this:

An officer is killed in battle, and one of his brother officers is tasked with delivering the bad news to the widow.

now, the brother officer would be a bounder if he told the widow the bad news, and then seduced her - but would be a cad if he seduced her, and then delivered the bad news.

The assumption, of course, being that only a bounder would be so tasteless so as to take advantage of a grieving woman.

4:08 am  

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