"kippie" - Buster Keaton

Nathan Bierma nbierm65 at CALVIN.EDU
Fri Jan 19 14:37:06 UTC 2007


I wasn't even looking for this quote anymore when I happened upon what I
believe to be the origin of the meaning of Buster Keaton's reference in 1920 to
being dressed up in "kippie clothes." It's from H.G.Wells' 1905 book, "Kipps."

I found this in a book posted online on men's increased interest in fashion in
the late 19th-early 20th centuries.2
Outfitting the Gent

In the1900 novel Kipps, H. G. Wells' working-class protagonist exhibits an
interest in cultivating and exhibiting publicly his physical appearance.

In Kipps' late teens,
his costume. . . began to interest him more; he began to realise himself
as a visible object, to find an interest in the costume-room mirrors and
the eyes of the girl-apprentices.
In this he was helped by counsel and example. Pearce, his immediate
senior, was by way of being what was called a Masher, and preached his
cult. During slack times grave discussions about collars, ties, the cut of
trouser-legs, and the proper shape of a boot-tow, were held in the Manchester

department. In due course Kipps went to a tailor, and his short
jacket was replaced by a morning coat with tails. Stirred by this, he
at his own expense three stand-up collars to replace his former
turn-down ones. They were nearly three inches high, higher than those
Pearce wore, and they made his neck quite sore and left a red mark under
his ears. . . . So equipped, he found himself fit company even for this
fashionable apprentice, who had now succeeded Minton in his seniority.

I feel sure this must be what Keaton was referring to. It makes a lot of sense
and probably would've been used regarding men in the 1920's. Please pass on to
the listserve, if you like.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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