This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers.

Explanatory Notes

clothes 'proclaiming the man. Compare Hamlet I.iii.72: 'the apparel oft proclaims the man'.

Breathes there a man with soul so dead: Walter Scott “Lay of the Last Minstrel” Canto VI, ll. 1-3:

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!

The outfit in the ironic description which follows is anything but 'quiet'.

dogskin gloves: dogskin was used for the stronger sort of men’s gloves, and was more expensive than 'kid'.

'pison': i.e. 'poison', familiar for alcoholic drink. The spelling indicates pronunciation. —— David Skilton

The chief canon of advice, sir, to be tendered to those who would dress well is – find a confiding tailor or milliner, who will give you plenty of credit. An old adage says, 'Cut your coat [a]ccording to your cloth.' This is distinctly wrong. 'Cut your coat according to your credit' is what was really meant, only somebody made a mistake. Custom has prescribed that though it may be radically dishonest to obtain goods for which you never mean to pay from any other sort of tradesman, it is no offence as against tailors. I am not writing this in order to excite sympathy on behalf of tailors, but rather to place on record the fact that there is in the human race an hereditary tendency to make that class victims.

Well, about dress generally. There are articles of apparel that I do like and there are articles that I don't care about, which is such a novel assertion that you'll perhaps make a note of it. I don't care about trousers that are scooped out at the bottom edges near the heel, for instance. I don't like to see a man wearing a light-check coat and a pair of militia trousers, the red seam of which has been carefully daubed with black ink in order to disguise their identity; I don't care to see a man whose trousers have run up, especially if he be a tall man, and I would willingly give over to the minions of the law that man who would dare to wear a light coat and black trousers, a tall hat with a short jacket, or a billycock with a frock coat. Such men ought to be condemned to wear, for the term of their natural lives, convict suits with the broad arrow on them, or suits made out of sacking, on which were marked numbers and characters in black, such as 'X 4. Return when empty.'

I do not like second-hand suits, sir. There is something too palpable about them; there is something which seems to say, 'Oh, you've seen me before. I don't belong to the present wearer; I'm the property of another party altogether; I'm here under false pretenses.' And the wearer himself looks uncomfortable, as though he feared that he might meet the former owner of his habiliments. Second-hand clothes, too, never seem to 'take to' the new wearer properly. They are either shy of him and refuse to cling to him, or else they clasp him tight, as though, in their very desperation, they would, a la the cobra or some other sort of snake (I'm not good on the subject of snakes), crush him to a jelly.

What are usually called 'Sunday' clothes are an abomination. I would rather be well-dressed all the week than be a swell for one day and a seedy mortal all the other six. There is something self-assertive about Sunday clothes. They will introduce and obtrude themselves everywhere, and even their wearers seem painfully conscious of their presence. They would, were they able to speak, doubtless say, 'I've been lying fallow all the week, but now I've come out and mean to "go" it. But be very careful, not to say uncomfortable, about me, lest I should gather grease or dust; and see that you rub me down with a brush and put me away to-night.' Rather than have the man with painfully assertive Sunday clothes, I would have the personage who lies in bed all the Sabbath because he knows that no amount of inking and brushing and darning will render his garments present[a]ble in the streets — the man who never comes out till dusk, and, when he does emerge, makes up for the seediness of his clothes by the most lavish display of linen; the man who also makes it a rule always to carry two odd gloves in one hand on a Sunday, because it looks so highly respectable. There is, sir, something pretentious and fraudulent about Sunday clothes. Persons who, the remaining part of the week, are in a sort of chrysalis condition suddenly bud forth and confront you in butterfly splendour.

malleable and trustful disposition; he would make him in the pattern of a personage who only carried on business to oblige his customers, and never by any chance made a bill out. Another 'saw' (a cutting saw, too) makes some assertion about the clothes 'proclaiming the man.' I don't know about this, but I do know that the man sometimes proclaims the clothes when he meets his landlady's son wearing his best pair of 'bags.' But this is a digression.

Men are accustomed to sneer at feminine vanities in the way of dress; they may sneer – but they have the dress to pay for all the same They readily say that they like 'simplicity,' but they are not quite so eager to encourage it by walking out with it when it is severely simple, and some other girl, all frills and furbelows, and with a spanking sort of style and figure, frequently diverts them from the contemplation of the demure maiden in the cotton gown, I have the greatest admiration for the girl who is clever at resurrecting dresses — the maiden who, by the addition of a few new bows of elaborate character, and by making a 'waist' of some sort of remnant, converts the costume of last year into one which, as she fondly believes, she can with impunity foist upon her friends as a new one, this year. Above all things sir, I hate clothes that are darned — there is something fearfully suggestive of what are called the res angusta domi ['the straightened circumstances of home] in darns. There is something blunt and honest about a good patch; it seems to say, 'Here I am: and here I mean to stick,' and it generally does. But there is something sneaking about darns; there is an affectation of rigid respectability about them which is absolutely aggravating.

Regarding female attire, sir (’pon my soul, how I ramble; it must be the changes in the weather that affect me), there is, in my honest judgment, nothing so sweet to gaze upon as a really well-dressed woman — that is, except you have to pay for her rig-out, in which case your admiration is somewhat discounted. And women dress more appropriately than men. A man comes out on a burning summer's day adorned, as he imagines, with a hideous stove pipe hat – (I wonder what fiend invented them) and a padded black coat, and he perspires, and groans, and listlessly crawls about. Not so the ladies; they go in for something light and airy, and, in order that they may keep cool, they'll change their dresses three times a day — if they have 'em.

Let me now refer to a somewhat pathetic subject — a theme thronged with sweet or bitter memories. Produce your pocket-handkerchiefs, please. Let me ask you: — Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he does not remember his first suit; who does not remember the pennies that were lavishly given him to be placed in the pockets thereof? (By-the-way, when people in after years meet one with a new suit on, they are more inclined to borrow a trifle than to give you anything to put into your new pockets.) My own first suit, sir, was of that pattern wherein the top edge of the trousers came just beneath my armpits, and I may say that the said trousers buttoned over my jacket, with a lavish profusion of buttons, which latter long practice only enabled me to manage.

I fell and split the knee of my pants the first time I had them on. I found, on arriving home, that not even a thick and exceedingly stout material in the way of trouserings was of any avail as a protection against a lithe cane well administered. For my own part, I like now-a-days something neat and 'quiet,' as tailors call it, in the way of dress – you know, something tasteful: a coat of checks about two inches square; trousers striped as broadly as a grid at a restaurant; a waistcoat of white with red coral buttons; a white hat with a black band, and a pair of yellow dogskin gloves back-stitched in broad black bands. Nice get up. isn't it?

If any of you readers see a tall, handsome man, with a fine florid colour (on his nose), they'll know him, won't they? Let them go up to him and say to him, 'You're Samuel, aren't you?' and he’ll possibly say, 'You're another,' and ask them what their own particular pison is.

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Last modified 8 May 2022