Gold watch, diamond ring:
I ain’t missin’ not a single thing.
And cufflinks, stick pin—
When I step out I’m gonna do you in.
They come runnin’ just as fast as they can,
‘Cuz every girl is crazy
‘Bout a sharp-dressed man.
The 80s pop group ZZ Top released “Sharp-Dressed Man” in 1983, but with those lyrics, it’s hard not to think of another sharp-dressed man who lived a hundred years earlier—William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. One look at just about any photo of the Great Entertainer, and you can see he was definitely a “sharp dressed man.”
And, by at least one account, Cody thought so, too.
Cody tells a tale of traveling to New York to visit a group of hunters whom he’d previously guided and who later extended an invitation for Buffalo Bill to join them there.*
“I immediately informed my wife and sisters that I would start for New York, as soon as I could get a suit of clothes built,” Cody wrote. “Then I went up to the regimental tailor and selected a dark navy blue cloth for the suit, and I told him to start on it at once and finish it as quickly as possible.
“When it was finished, I took it down home, and dressed up in it. I had bought a new necktie to wear [with] the present, which was contained in the little box that the Count gave me, which proved to be a turquoise scarf pin surrounded with diamonds, and then I put on my overcoat and the new Stetson hat, and I considered [myself] the best dressed man in the United States.”
That pin was a gift from Grand Duke Alexis of Russia whom Cody guided on a buffalo hunt in Kansas in 1872. But, Alexis had also arranged for Tiffany’s of New York to create a special gift of jewelry for his hunting guide—as true an instance of “bling” as ever there was. The Duke’s instructions were that the gift “should be of buffalo heads, studded with rubies and diamonds—a large buffalo pin, representing a buffalo head, and shirt-cuff buttons, the same.” In a good number of portraits of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, he proudly wears the buffalo head jewelry. Check out our online photograph collection to see more images of this “sharp-dressed man.”