​The dandy: Celebrating the exquisite gentleman

Serena Altschul explores the world of the dandy
Serena Altschul explores the world of the dan... 05:17

With a cane and hat just about anyone can look quite the dandy. Meet the fine and dandy gentlemen our Serena Altschul has been watching:

"My style is a little bit of Jazz Age," said Dandy Wellington. "There's that old Harlem feel." And the fit of his clothes? "A bit looser; my trousers are up to here. My lapels are wider."

And that's just the start. Then there are the socks, the sock garters, the arm bands, the vest, the pocket watch, the Boutonniere -- and eventually a check in the mirror.

"When I feel put-together is when I feel most comfortable," he said.

And he never leaves home without a hat.

He goes by the stage name Dandy Wellington, but this is no act. When Altschul asks if might ever bump into him on the street wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt, Wellington replies, "No. Sorry."

And as his name implies, Dandy Wellington is one of a rare breed of men for whom dressing well is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle.

So what is a "dandy"?


"The definition that we took for our book, is a man obsessed with personal elegance," said Nathaniel Adams, Dandyism.net's current "Dandy of the Year." He and photographer Rose Callahan spent five years studying these unconventional but impeccably-clad men for their book, "I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman" (Gestalten).

"With Dandies, it's their whole being, -- they couldn't exist any other way," said Adams. "If they were on a desert island, they'd polish their shoes with squid ink, and they'd use a fish bone as a tie pin."

Think Oscar Wilde . . . journalist Gay Talese . . . or screen legend Fred Astaire. But who else is a dandy?

George Clooney? "No," said Adams.

Director John Waters? "Yes," says Callahan.

Justin Timberlake? "I think he might be a little too fashionable," said Adams. "He's always changing his style."

Willy Wonka? "I would say, Yeah. I think so,'" said Callahan. "I'd have to see Willy Wonka's closet to see."

And then there's New York City attorney Edward Hayes. Altschul caught up with him at Beckenstein's Bespoke, with his longtime tailor and friend Jonathan Boyarsky.

Altschul asked, "True or false: there's a rumor that you refuse to wear a bullet proof vest?"

"Oh, that's true," Hayes replied. "What happened was, I represent a guy who beats his wife to death. Terrible, terrible man. I go to his house with the cops, and the cop says, 'Put on a bullet proof vest.' I said, 'No way -- it'll ruin the fit of my suit, and if the TV stations show up I'll look terrible!'"