Oscar Wilde’s Pants Down Again

Another notable advertisement featuring Oscar Wilde on his lecture tour of America in 1882. This time his pants.

The_Inter_Ocean_Tue__Jan_31__1882_

Further to my recent post featuring advertisements that used Oscar Wilde’s name and image during his lecture tour, here is another notable example.

It shows Oscar in a quite demure pose as if he had something to hide. But fear not, he is exposed only below the knee.

Wilde’s long hair and knee-breeches excited many a soirée in 1882, prompting one commentator to note that Oscar “pants” after a certain celebrity, but that he should make it two because a pair of pants is something he obviously needs.

Advertisers, too, had Wilde’s trousers in mind. This example uses an image of a long-haired Oscar and the slogan Pants Down Again—presumably the price. What advertisers did not realise was that Oscar would soon take the slogan literally.

When he returned to America in 1883, he reversed the trend. Instead of long hair and short pants, Oscar confounded observers by wearing his hair short and his pants long.  His Neronian coiffure was certainly a radical change; but while the hair was now up, it would seem the pants were down once again.

NPG P1133; Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony
Oscar Wilde in 1883.

Published by

John Cooper

John Cooper is a independent scholar who has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde. He is a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America. For the last 20 years Cooper has specialised in Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour becoming a consultant on Wilde’s American experience to biographers and the wider media. Cooper lectures on Wilde and has conducted new and unique research into Oscar Wilde visits to New York culminating in a guided walking tour. Online he is a popular blogger and the creator of the noncommercial archive 'Oscar Wilde in America’ which incorporates his work on the Sarony photographs, and a detailed documentary verification of Wilde’s American lecture tour. In 2012 Cooper rediscovered Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

2 thoughts on “Oscar Wilde’s Pants Down Again”

  1. John, I don’t want to make work for you, but have you given us some perspective on Napoleon Sarony. He’s just such an intriguing usher to late 19th celebrity — photographer to the stars as it were.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is not really directly related, but I have not decided yet whether I like Oscar best, or his father, Sir William, that polymath. Also, Oscar has kind of a unique face – that smoothness. Unfortunately he looks like my Irish brother – the PhD who watches sports on TV. Well – back to Oscar. See my article on OW The Complete Environmentalist, in this week’s Bay Area Reporter – and I got paid for it too. In the Arts section. Peter Garland (The new Oscar Wilde?)

    Like

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