14. Lord Byron was not just a famous poet, he was also the ultimate dandy, helping create a new sense of masculine style
The Romantic poets, who dominated the English literary scene at the start of the 19th century, were a flamboyant bunch. But none were as over-the-top as Lord Byron. An original dandy, he was a respected writer, politician and adventurer. Thanks to his quick wit, and his unique sense of style and perfect dress sense, he was a true celebrity of his time, and seduced both men and women as he travelled extensively throughout Europe.
According to one of Lord Byron’s lovers, a certain Lady Caroline Lamb, the poet was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. But still, people couldn’t help but be drawn to him. Much of this was due to his unparalleled sense of style. While many men sported facial hair at the time, Byron was always clean-shaven. What’s more, he also ditched the wax and powder and let his hair flow long, free and natural, a look that scandalized many, but was soon being copied in prestigious universities and the most fashionable parts of London.
Numerous portraits were done of Lord Byron, each helping to add to his legend. He became famous for his fashion sense, and above all for his open-necked shirts and silk robes. According to his friend, the fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Byron was the “most handsome man” in the word, with “his eyes the open portals of the sunâ¦his forehead passing from marble smoothness into a hundred wreathes and lines and dimples”.
Lord Byron’s early death, at the age of just 36, undoubtedly helped add further to his legend. Since he died, alone and in agony, in a small town in a remote part of western Greece, he never had the chance to grow old and unfashionable. He will forever be remembered as the ultimate English dandy.