Oscar Wilde’s Pants Down Again

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

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 bare 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. Here is an example that 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.

The_Inter_Ocean_Tue__Jan_31__1882_

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

John Cooper is a researcher, author, blogger and documentary historian. As a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America, he has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde, having lectured on Wilde, and contributing to TV, film, and academic journals including The Wildean and Oscholars. Online he is the designer, author and editor of this noncommercial archive Oscar Wilde in America, blogger, and moderator of the Oscar Wilde Internet discussion groups at Yahoo and Google. For the last 14 years he has specialized in new and unique research into Oscar Wilde in New York, where he conducts guided walking tours based on the visits of Oscar Wilde. In 2012 John rediscovered Oscar Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his recent 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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