Monday, March 21, 2011
Nicholas Storey's second book, titled A History of Men's Accessories (Pen and Sword March 2011) but only somewhat about accessories and their history, continues the unusual relationship between title and contents that began with his History of Men's Fashion. That book of course was on men's dress as seen through the glass of the City of London but neither a history nor about fashion. I speculate (I suppose I could ask but guessing is more fun) that someone at his publisher assigns the title before the book is written and then the submitted manuscript is allowed to wander away from the title a bit. Again, as with Mr. Storey's first book, the subtitle, A Short Guide for Men About Town, is a better description of the contents.
All that aside, in the guise of a History Mr. Storey's guide is a worth while smörgåsbord of unique content for men. A third of it is actually about accessories for grooming, scents and dressing generally. Most of that part is quintessentially English and grounded in the 19th century if not earlier, with the periodic exception of a few modern products such as the scent Ormonde Jane. And the third chapter actually does cover slippers, dressing gowns, collars, braces, watches, pens, pins, jewels in general and throws in several pages that may be the best history of the dinner jacket ever written.
The remainder of the book is an eclectic compendium of topics such as London clubs, gambling venues and drinking establishments; advice on wines and foods from caviar to chocolate; gifts for women; manners; tobacco and a comprehensive selection of cocktails that includes a full page on the history of the Vesper Martini. Fine stuff, and accompanied by the author's encouragement that the content should be enjoyed while smoking and drinking.