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Neat but not gaudy

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 18, 2011 at 19:21

In Reply to: Neat but not gaudy posted by Barbara Peterson on February 18, 2011 at 14:20:

: Neat but not gaudy. One source I found said it was an aphorism by organist Samuel Wesley, another said it had been in use since the 1600s. Anyone know who first coined the phrase?

Shakespeare, in Hamlet.
Polonius gives his son Laertes, who's going back to college, a whole load of advice including this: "Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, / But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; / For the apparel oft proclaims the man" (In modern terms: if you want people to respect you, buy good-quality but not flashy or over-trendy clothes.)(VSD)