PRETTY GENTLEMAN

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PRETTY GENTLEMAN

Long before Oscar Wilde became an icon of queer sexuality and style, a “Fraternity of PRETTY GENTLEMEN” united by “mutual love” influenced fashion. Three categories of men received particular attention in the 18th-century English press: The “mollies” (effeminate, cross-dressing “sodomites”), the “macaronis” (stylish men whose foppishness called into question ideas of masculinity), and the “man-milliners” (men in the fashion trades who made or sold women’s clothes, described as a “club” of “young bachelors . . . who invent fashions for ladies”).