The Dude’s Trouser Bug: An 1888 Fad



From The Philadelphia News


“What’s the matter?”

“There’s a horrid bug on your trousers. Brush it off, Jack!”

A pretty girl and a particularly well-dressed youth were walking out Walnut Street yesterday afternoon about 3 o’clock. The pretty girl’s face filled with horror at the sight of a long, brightly colored caterpillar, which extended itself lengthwise on her companion’s pantaloons just above the knee. She struck it deftly with her parasol, but the insect clung to the cloth, which was a fine quality of black cassimere. A second poke failed to dislodge it. Finally she stopped and tried to pick it off, but it refused to move.

“Better leave him alone, sis,” laughed the young man, and upon her asking what it was, remarked as follows:

“It’s a new wrinkle. You order a jet black pair of trousers with a shine on the cloth. Then, after your tailor has cut the pieces, have a spot marked over the left knee and get somebody to embroider there a bug or butterfly, or some such insect. It’s only been out a week, and nobody has it outside of Philadelphia. Great idea, eh, sis?”

“Who embroidered that?”

“Fannie; great scheme.”

His sister curled her lip. “I don’t like it,” said she.

New York Tribune 12 September 1888: p. 3

Mrs. Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: So reminiscent of the deliberately ripped jeans and safety-pinned holes of the so-called “punk” and “grunge” adherents. The young and rebellious are often tediously derivative. Mrs Daffodil finds it a shocking waste of good cassimere.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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