And in the late 19th century city, which celebrated extravagance and excess, socialite and clotheshorse Evander Berry Wall was one of the most colorful.
Born in 1860 into a wealthy family, he inherited $2 million by his 21st birthday.
That was an incredible sum in the Gilded Age, and it enabled party-loving Wall (who sported a monocle, and insisted on only drinking champagne) to not work for a living and instead indulge in his love of fashion.
“He wore waistcoats that dazzled the eye. He wore violet spats. His spread-eagle collars and startling cravats kept New Yorkers agog,” wrote The New York Times in his 1940 obituary.
In the 1880s, he battled for the title of best-dressed New York man with another foppish dandy. Wall eclipsed the other guy during the Blizzard of 1888, when he entered the luxurious Hoffman House bar clad in thigh-high black patent leather boots.
From then on he was crowned “King of the Dudes.” Dude was kind of an insult at the time, but Wall embraced it with pride.
In 1912, he and his wife (yep, he was married) began living abroad in Europe.
He’s best remembered by his outfits, of course, and as the epitome of the Gay 90s.
“To the end he was a fabulous and eccentric dresser of his earlier days—stiff shirts, tailcoats, Byron collars—and he never went to Longchamps in season without his silk hat even if, as he complained, valets no longer knew how to ‘keep the gloss on your topper,’” wrote the Times.
The only shame is that no color photos survive to really show off what a bon vivant fashion plate Wall truly was.