Evander Berry Wall (1860 – May 13, 1940) was a New York socialite and later an American expatriate in France during the Belle Époque and beyond. He was famous for his extravagantly refined look and was crowned “King of the Dudes” in the 1880s.
Wall was a clotheshorse. He generally wore a “very extraordinary costume” [such as] “a dust coat of a reddish havana brown, a suit made of a large grey shepherd plaid check; extremely wide trousers tapered at the ankle, and turned up several inches to display white spats and highly varnished shoes; a ‘startling’ striped shirt in red and sky blue, with very high false collar of a pattern different from the shirts, a striped vest and a widely spread stock-cravat.” He was popularly credited with the possession of over 500 trousers and 5,000 neckties.
Wall was first proclaimed “King of the Dudes” at the resort town of Long Branch, New Jersey in the summer of 1883.
Wall was again proclaimed “King of the Dudes” in 1888 by the New York American newspaper. A journalist named Blakely Hall judged that Wall had won the “Battle of the Dudes” against Robert “Bob” Hilliard, another sartorial dude when, during the March Blizzard of 1888, he strode into a bar clad in gleaming boots of patent leather that went to his hips. Nevertheless, some historians still consider it was Hilliard who won that dude battle.
Wall won another fashion contest in August 1888, in Saratoga Springs, New York. To win a bet against John “Bet a Million” Gates, Wall changed clothes 40 times between breakfast and dinner. He appeared on the race track “in one flashy ensemble after the other until, exhausted but victorious he at last entered the ballroom of the United States Hotel in faultless evening attire.”
Ever the fashion-leader, Wall is credited for having been the first person in the United States to wear a dinner jacket (tuxedo) to a ball. The white ensemble had been sent to him by the London Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & Co “to be worn for a quiet dinner at home or at an evening’s entertainment at a summer resort.” This was a time when tailcoat was still the rule, and Wall was immediately ordered off the floor.
Wall wrote his memoirs in his late seventies, and they were published after his death in 1940, his wife had died in 1936. In Neither Pest Nor Puritan, Wall ascribed his longevity to the fact he never saw physicians and always drank champagne instead of water, claiming that “There are more old drunkards than there are old doctors.” He noted that, “I keep reminding myself as I draw nearer my last great duty, the obligation upon me to thank the God I believe in for the gift of life.”