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A boulevardier in strictest definition comes from the French for boulevard or street. The boulevardier is a man (usually) who promenades through the fashionable city streets of Paris. Today, although the word is not a commonly used one, the boulevardier could be best described as “a man about town.” In other words, the boulevardier is the urbane, fashionable city dweller of usually the upper classes who has knowledge of any city, and particularly the cultured amusements to be found in that city.
Knowledge of a city alone cannot make a man a boulevardier. Class and income level are important, since a boulevardier must express his sense of high fashion and have knowledge of advanced cultural pursuits. A related and recent term is metrosexual, defined as a heterosexual male who is interested particularly in fashion and grooming, much more so than the average man. Like a fashion-conscious woman, the metrosexual stays up on the current trends in fashion like how ties are worn, the latest productions of designers, and the “in” garments, hair cuts, hair products, etc, for any particular season.
A boulevardier also generally has traveled, and has knowledge of numerous cities that are considered cultural centers, as is Paris. However, a high class New Yorker can certainly be considered a boulevardier if he expresses interest in the culture and fashion of New York. Travel is implied but not a prerequisite.
The term boulevardier is also defined as a bon vivant. Bon vivant refers to people with excessive enjoyment in fine dining and luxurious living. Boulevardier thus must imply that a person named such has money to afford the “finer” things in life.
In times past, it was often the case that weekends were the time for city dwellers to leave their homes and walk or ride through particular streets. For the wealthy, these weekend promenades were a way to meet others. You can see an excellent example of this in the film Gigi, where the French wealthy are viewed as promenading through the streets in carriages or on foot, collecting gossip, and showcasing their wealthy attainments of coaches, fashionable clothing or newest mistresses.
Many cities had boulevards or streets that were “stomping grounds” for the wealthy. To be seen walking these streets on certain days was vital to maintaining boulevardier status. Today, the boulevardier may concentrate less on walking certain streets and more on being seen at various restaurants, premiers of films or plays, and red carpet events. To be seen dressed fashionably and partaking of the finest things at exclusive events or in exclusive locations defines the boulevardier and maintains his status.
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