A New York socialite dubbed “King of the Dudes”

EvanderberrywallchowdogEvery era in New York history has its characters.

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.

Evanderberrywall1888How much of a fashionista was this guy? Reportedly he owned 500 pairs of pants, 5,000 ties, loved loud colors and patterns, and changed his clothes six times a day.

“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.

EvanderberrywallmonocleHe befriended royalty, indulged his love of social events and horse racing, and took his beloved chow. wherever he could.

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.

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14 Responses to “A New York socialite dubbed “King of the Dudes””

  1. penelopebianchi Says:

    Oh! I am so sorry I missed him!!! What a lovely character! Perhaps he has been reincarnated!!


    I will think! What a great post! And what a GREAT BLOG!!!!

  2. penelopebianchi Says:

    Oh p.s. I have to brag a bit! I was going into the Coral Casino (not a casino) in Santa Barbara two days ago; and my friend and fellow decorator ; John Saladino (KLUNK!!! ) (/when I drop names; I say, KLUNK!!)

    Anyway; his friends complimented me on my attire; and John said……”Oh! She is a “fashionista”!!


  3. DrBOP Says:

    Yeah……this guy is somebody to admire…….

    ………WAKE THE F*CK UP!

  4. L Milera Says:

    Vintage clothing aficionados love articles like this and I enjoyed learning about Mr. Wall and his wonderfully eccentric style. I’ve share this link on a vintage clothing site. Thank you so much!

  5. penelopebianchi Says:

    oh! i misspelled Crotchety! There we go! who are they???

    Do we have to listen to them/ Do you have to publish rude people? Who use the “f Word”?

    Please see:


    All questions will be answered !!


    I am proud of you for posting this wonderful post!

    Do not be bullied. I am really re-thinking email.

    How many hours do we spend deleting? sorting, all of it?

    Is it a help or a hindrance?

    I am really thinking about this……and I hope YOU are!!


  6. Fiona O'downey Says:

    The “other guy” was obviously Roscoe Conkling.

  7. David P. Lochner Says:

    A man isn’t a “fashionista” but a “fashionisto”. The “A” is fashionista denotes the feminine.

  8. velvethead Says:

    I would say he was the original “Dos Equis” guy.

  9. billybeyond Says:

    Reblogged this on billy beyond's blog and commented:
    I need “Topper gloss.”

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