There was a time when the cane was a natural fashion accessory for men. But nowadays it is as forgotten as the hat in the male wardrobe and is mainly used by older gentlemen as a support when walking. Here we focus on the cane as an accessory in men’s fashion.
The cane has now almost completely lost its status as a fashion accessory among both younger and older men. It was not always so. For a long time, the cane was an important accessory among men associated with the upper class. No outfit was complete without an accompanying cane.
Brief history of the cane
It was around the 17th and 18th centuries that the cane took over from the sword as an important accessory in the gentleman’s wardrobe. In addition to its role as a decorative accessory, it was also used both as a weapon and in self-defence as late as the 19th century.
The most common material for canes has historically been rattan, but the more durable hardwood hickory has also been widely used for canes.
The cane as a fashion accessory – a question of etiquette
Because the cane was such an important part of men’s fashion even in the first part of the 20th century, it was also an integral part of the etiquette literature. The rules for using a cane were often set out.
There were also tips on which canes were appropriate in which contexts. It is interesting to note that a well-stocked male wardrobe would have several different canes depending on the occasion.
Every complete etiquette book from the 19th and early 20th centuries included the use of a cane as an important part of gentlemanly behaviour.
Cane for different occasions
From the 1910 publication Fairchild’s Rapid Letterer, a formal evening dress with matching cane for a tailcoat is advertised.
A cane for every occasion. Here a formal dress for daytime.
The cane was an important part of the fashion illustrations of the 1930s.
B. Kuppenheimer & Co show their autumn fashion in their 1900 catalogue.
Different types of canes
The cane was thus included in every complete book on male fashion and etiquette well into the last century. That this has now lost its status as a fashion accessory is only to be regretted, as it is a very elegant accessory.
It is not easy to categorise walking sticks, but in essence, walking sticks as an accessory could be roughly divided into classic walking canes for everyday use and so-called outdoor walking sticks for hunting and fishing.
Classic models of walking canes
There are thus, in simple terms, a few main groups of walking sticks, the most common of which is the classic model with a large handle. This is usually made of wood. As a subgroup of this, one could mention the more ergonomically designed cane for the hand.
This is probably the classic model you have come across if you have ever seen an older cane in use.
Elegant classic canes
There are some really stylish and elegant models of canes on the market even today. In the UK market there is no shortage of online shops offering a wide range of classic canes as well as canes for hunting and fishing.
Here is a luxurious cane with gold-plated handle in classic dandy style. As a general rule when investing in the purchase of walking sticks, avoid the cheapest models if you want a durable model. The models above in beech wood are of high quality. This cane is also of the highest possible quality.
A cane with a horse or dog head is a classic model that is also often seen in British umbrellas.
Canes for hunting and fishing
The second group of canes, the one with a knob instead of a handle, is a model that was previously used mainly as an evening cane and which has a silver or gold knob. The third group of sticks is the so-called. “country-style” model.
This is a slightly longer wooden model, made of a simple material, without any particularly ornate details. The country-style model is mainly used by English gentlemen for hunting and fishing.
At the venerable British brand James Purdey & Son you will find this stick, which is intended primarily for hunting and fishing.
When you unscrew the knob at the handle, a 50 ml glass flask is also hidden inside the stick. Perfect for storing whisky or brandy on chilly hunting days.
The cane as a weapon
In older literature from the Victorian era, we find the cane with a concealed sword in several contexts. However, it is not a legal weapon anywhere, nor is it something you would be allowed to use in the street if you were to use a cane in everyday life.
That this is something that is a frequent keyword on the net is perhaps not a good sign. Remember that weapons are never something that a gentleman should use.
The stick in self-defence
What you can benefit from, however, is being able to use the cane in self-defence. In the first part of the 20th century, men of the time were often given tips on how to use the cane for self-defence. Something we wrote about in a previous article and which you can find at the link above.
Making your own cane
As a result of today’s coronal situation, it has also become increasingly common for us to seek out different types of hobbies when we can’t meet other people to the same extent as before.
For the handy person, this can offer an excellent opportunity to make your own cane. There are also opportunities to make the most imaginative decorations on the stick.
Here is an instructional video for those who have been thinking about making their own sticks: