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The FPQT Guide to Snagging a Brooding Man: Early Victorian Style

November 30, 2011

L-A: If you want to call bullshit on this post, I’m okay with that. I know Ally will. But just know that I’m literally up to my eyes in crafts. I had to move a sewing machine, five sock creatures, a bag of noses and a pin cushion out of the way just to get to my keyboard. And when I craft, I turn to movies. Either teen comedies based on great works of literature (I bought She’s All That just to get me through a crafting season) or smouldery period dramas based on great works of literature.

This weekend was no different. I hit the Netflix and ended up watching four hour-long episodes of North and South, 13 episodes of Bleak House (what the eff was up with all the characters, Dickens? Were they all necessary??) and four hour-long episodes of Wives and Daughters. And since my inspiration right now is either “what to wear when you’re a sock monkey” or “what to wear when trying to snag a brooding fellow in the 19th century”, Imma gonna go with the latter. Because we all know that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, so it doesn’t hurt to know how to dress when you meet him. So, without further ado:

The FPQT Guide to winning yourself a brooding and smouldering gentleman

preferably one with a moderate to good fortune.

Your target:

North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell, Richard Armitage

Not too shabby for an industrialist.

Now, ideally your brooding fellow should be a gentleman. None of this working man business. This ladies and gents, is a time when being a doctor or lawyer or owner of a cotton factory is not necessarily a good thing. But the times, they are a-changing, so if he’s rich enough, we’ll put up with the fact that he earned it. But if you can, go for a dude who’s comes from Ye Olde Money. Like this guy:


How to get him to notice you at a party:

Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell, Oh You Fancy

This is what she wears to brunch.

If you’re going for the win and money is your only object, then you want fancy. You want your nails done, hair done, everything did. In fact, the bigger the better. Big dress. Big hair. Big hats.

No one was surprised he chose Cynthia over her sister Molly.

You see, the dowdy floral number? No? Oh, that’s because her step-sister is up-front and center with the giant hat and sleeves so puffy they’d send Anne Shirley into a tizzy. But Molly (the plainer one) has something else going for her. She and our other heroine, Margaret, are playing the long game. Because while the dudes go straight for the fancy, that doesn’t work out so well in the long run. Either they figure out she’s an idiot or she ditches them for someone with more cash money and a family name (fancy costs money).

So what’s our un-fancy girl to do? Well, here’s two tricks:

1. The “I hate you. No I don’t. Yes, I do. Wait, I don’t, I actually love you.”  plan.

If he's willing to look past that hat, he's a keeper.


This my friends is a risky way to get a man. It involves telling him to eff off just as he says he ardently loves and admires you. Oh sure, he’ll do nice things for your family and friends. And yes, he’ll perk up a bit when he hears you’ve said really nice things about him. But there’s no guarantee he’s coming back. Your brooding hero might just be the type to stand there and look tortured in the snow while you leave town. And honestly, do you really want to hurt him? He already broods enough as it is.

Brooding is already his hobby. He doesn't need more reasons to brood.

On the upside to this plan, he’s totally into you for your brains and your opinions – not your outfits.

2. The “Loves ya like a sister” plan.

Another risky move from both the Regency and Early Victorian playbooks. Oh sure he thinks you’re cute in that plaid dress and he likes that he can talk to you about science and shit, but does he like like you?

Unfortunately, he's just not that into you. At least not yet.

The trouble is, you’re dressing safe. Sure you look cute, but you’re not catching his eye. You’re dressing for other ladies in your village.

Adorbs. Something your old lady friends would totally approve of.

So here’s what you do: dress like the kid sister at first and get him to figure out you’re aces. He’ll get engaged to your step-sister and he’ll go off to Africa and he’ll mention you in letters and you’ll take care of his dying brother and have the occasional bathroom cry about your situation. But when he gets back, you need to break out the fancy.

Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell

Every now and then you’ve got to show him you’re more than just the smart, lovely, dependable girl next door. You’ve got to break out the big dress (preferably in white to remind him you’re still all pure and junk) and the big hair and dance with every other dude at the party. He’ll notice you then alright. Just be careful that you actually show you’re noticing him too. You’d hate for him to run off to another continent without declaring his love for you.

Ally: As it’s a busy week, I’m leaning on L-A to handle to posts until Friday (my earlier prediction that I would be back on Wednesday was so effing wrong. I’m sitting here, trying to recall a post that has made me laugh as hard as this one. I needed that.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2011 10:23 am

    Oh man guys, this post rocked my AM. I’m a BIG north and south fan, and if I had a time machine*, I’d be all over the dark and broody Mr. Thornton. If you guys don’t know about it yet, you need (at least L-A needs) to check out Downton Abby. Lots of old money, brooding, and drama drama drama!

    *Clearly I mean a time machine for the movies. Duh.

    • la permalink*
      November 30, 2011 10:34 am

      This was my first time watching North & South – LOVED it. When Mr. Thornton sees her hug her bro? Or stands in the snow saying, “Look back at me!” I was all, “Look back at him bitch!”

      And I am all over the Downton Abbey. There’s going to be a Christmas special!

  2. Joyce permalink
    November 30, 2011 8:43 pm

    North and South is the best! So pretty in every way. Love this post and it is quite useful… Potentially.

    • la permalink*
      November 30, 2011 11:41 pm

      You never can tell when you’ll meet up with a handsome and brooding factory owner.

  3. December 1, 2011 3:26 pm

    “Oh you fancy, huh?”


    • la permalink*
      December 1, 2011 3:29 pm

      In hindsight, I feel like I should have told everyone this post is made about 65% better if you read it while listening to Fancy. Because doing that amused me – and I wrote it! (yes, I sometimes go back and read my own posts and laugh at my own writing).

      • December 2, 2011 9:54 am

        Laughing at your own work is a blogging standard. Never stop doing that.

        • la permalink*
          December 2, 2011 10:10 am

          oh good! I was feeling a little full of myself for laughing at my own work. But now, bring on the Fancy! I’m reading it again.

    • allygarbs permalink
      December 2, 2011 8:56 am

      This entire post killed me. L-A was comedy gold.

  4. okgirl permalink
    December 7, 2011 1:15 pm

    I just visited for the first time, over from Shopping Detox. And I loved this post!! I laughed out loud several times. I was also killed by “Oh, you fancy huh?” and I’m still giggling over it. Excellent post! I’m sending it to my English Lit homies.

    “Bleak House” raised the same questions for me. Why so many characters? Why so much misery? I shouldn’t have expected unicorns and dancing flowers from Dickens OR a book entitled “Bleak” but still. Even the lovely Gillian Anderson couldn’t spark it up. Although I was glad to finally find out what she was all “woe!” about all the time. Besides her grizzled, overly-solicitous husband with his smothering “my dear”s.

    I totally fire up the Netflix instant while I’m sewing. (Because I’m not an attention-deficit enough sewist, I have to distract myself with movies.) That’s actually how I watched every episode of Bleak House, working on a quilt. I’m so glad someone else does that!! I haven’t watched N & S since middle school history class, so I should probably check it out again. I’m craving hoopskirts and thinly veiled acrimony. And I’m so excited about the next installment of Downton Abbey!!

    P.S. I so totally love it that you referenced Anne’s love of puffed sleeves. I’m a *huge* L.M. Montgomery fan, and just reread “The Blue Castle” for about the tenth time. Ok, stopping with the gushing now.


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