CO N T R A R Y T O C L A I M S that the original version of the dandy inhabitedonly an elite milieu, such was the ubiquity of his figure in the imaginative urban landscape of the early nineteenth century that its revolutionary characteristics were obsessively recorded across a range of popular media. The song reproduced above is only one example of countless products which profited from the dandy craze. His faintly ridiculous persona was considered a fitting subject for the entertainment of the masses, a guarantee for healthy sales. Thus a rather fantastical and overblown version of dandyism became the stock in trade for pantomime balladeers, print sellers and penny novelists; entrepreneurs whose output has provided a rich but compromised seam of commentary for future historians of fashionable masculinities (Laver 1968; Chenoune 1993; McDowell 1997). Indeed, if the archives were to be stripped of these distorted caricatures of sartorial behaviour and corporeal modification, a whole set of subsequent discourses relating to the rise of commodity culture, the experience of modernity in the city and the relationship between desire, clothing and the gendered body would remain unexplored and without example; for any evidence of the material practice of dandyism (and there is not much) counts for little when placed alongside its potent and more familiar role as a symbolic representation of less tangible cultural fears and concerns.