Wearing Very Commonly The Finest


Juan de Viera emphasizes the ‘marvellous’ fact that it is impossible to distinguish the wife of a count from the wife of a tailor, as both are so finely dressed. This photo exemplifies this idea of wearing the very finest commonly. Dressing up for a common school day, Philip Rech ’19 is dressed in some of his most elegant attire, sporting a seersucker sport coat with pink corduroy. Assuming this society was like that of 18th century Lima or Mexico City, one can not tell if he is the son of great prominence or just from a lowly family of merchants. Juan de Viera notes, “A hatband and rose made of diamonds in a gentleman’s hat is common, and a hat-band of pearls is ordinary in a tradesman.” People of many different classes in these societies were dressing as elegantly as they could. I think a reason for this is because if you think about society today, there are so many more extraneous expenses that come along with the technology and complexity of our civilization. We have to pay for phone, internet, tv, heating, electricity, computers, cell-phone bills, mortgages, insurance, and so on and so on. With a much simpler life in the 17th 18th and 19th centuries there were such fewer expenses so people could devote a much larger portion of their income towards clothing and adornment.