|I talked in a snow-white fulldress, swallow-tail
and all, and dined in the same. It's a delightful impudence. I think I will
call it my dontcareadam suit. But in the case of the private dinner I will
always ask permission to wear it first saying: "Dear Madam, may I come
in my dontcareadams?"
- quoted in My Father, Mark Twain by Clara Clemens
Illustration from NEW YORK HERALD, 15 February 1907
Photo from NEW YORK HERALD,
15 February 1907
I have found that when a man reaches the advanced age of 71 years as
I have, the continual sight of dark clothing is likely to have a depressing
effect upon him. Light-colored clothing is more pleasing to the eye and
enlivens the spirit. Now, of course, I cannot compel every one to wear
such clothing just for my especial benefit, so I do the next best thing
and wear it myself.
This suit, I may say, is the uniform of the Ancient and
Honorable Order of Purity and Perfection, of which organization I am president,
secretary, treasurer and sole member. I may add that I don't know of any
one else who is eligible.You see, when a man gets to be 71, as I am, the
world begins to look somber and dark. I believe we should do all we can
to brighten things up and make ourselves look cheerful. You can't do that
by wearing black, funereal clothes.And why shouldn't a man wear white?
It betokens purity and innocence. I'm in favor of peek-a-boo waists and
décolleté costumes. The most beautiful costume is the human
skin, but since it isn't conventional or polite to appear in public in
that garb along, I believe in wearing white.I don't know anything more
hideous or disgusting in men's attire than the black clawhammer coat.
A group of men thus adorned remind me more of a flock of crows than anything
else. About the most becoming get up I ever saw in my life was out in
the Sandwich Islands thirty years ago, where a native who wanted to appear
at this best usually appeared in a pair of eyeglasses.
As for black clothes, my aversion for them is incurable.
When I appear clothed in white, a startling accent in the midst of a sombre
multitude in mid-winter, the most conspicuous object there, I am not ashamed,
not ill at ease, but serene and content, because my conspicuousness is not of
an offensive sort; it is not an insult, and cannot affront any eye, nor affront
anybody's sense of propriety.
- Autobiographical dictation, 30 July 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (University of California Press, 2015)
I am considered eccentric because I wear white clothes both winter and summer.
I am eccentric, then, because I prefer to be clean in the matter of raimant
-- clean in a dirty world; absolutely the only cleanly-clothed human being in
all Christendom north of the Tropics. And that is what I am. All clothing gets
dirty in a single day -- as dirty as one's hands would get in that length of
time if one washed them only once; a neglect which any lady or gentleman would
scorn to be guilty of. All the Christian world wears dark colored clothes; after
the first day's wear they are dirty, and they continue to get dirtier and dirtier,
day after day, and week after week, to the end of their service. Men look fine
in their black dress-clothes at a banquet, but often those dress-suits are rather
real estate than personal property; they carry so much soil that you could plant
seeds in them and raise a crop.
- Autobiographical dictation, 10 July 1908. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3 (University of California Press, 2015)
Recommended book - MARK TWAIN: MAN IN WHITE
available from amazon.com
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