What Brow are You? The Dabbler’s Style Guide – Highbrow to Lowbrow

A little while ago Dabbler co-editor Brit discovered, via Mike Beversluis, the above magnificent chart from a 1940s edition of TIME magazine (click on it for a larger picture), which purports to explain everyday tastes from Highbrow to Lowbrow.

It was instantly clear  that an updated version for 2011 Britain was required, and that Susan Muncey – the Dabbler’s own retroprogressive style goddess and curator of Shopcurious – was the person to do it.

With Susan’s words, and design and illustrations by The Spine, we proudly present The Dabbler’s Style Guide: Everyone’s Tastes from Highbrow to Lowbrow.

This handy chart will enable you to pinpoint exactly where you stand on every important matter of style, and from there to draw a general conclusion about your overall classification (again, click on the picture for a larger image).


You can also use this chart to work out which character from the Noseybonk saga you most resemble. Give yourself 4 points for each ‘Highbrow’ answer, 3 for each ‘Upper Middlebrow’, 2 for each ‘Lower Middlebrow’ and 1 point for each ‘Lowbrow’.

Then add up your score…

11-13: You are Wayne Rooney
14-16: You are Ed Balls
17-21 You are Rod Lidl
22-30: You are Alain de Botton
31-40: You are Sarah Brown (snazzy red patent sling-backs)
41-43: You are
Julian Assange (left-wing) or Boris Johnson (right-wing) or Josie Pringle (student)
44 (maximum): You are Brian Sewell (no, not a ‘Brian Sewell-type character’, but THE actual Brian Sewell)

Incidentally, the reason for the short intermission in the saga is that Noseybonk is working on something very special… watch this space.

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The Dabbler is the culture blog for connoisseurs of everything.

27 thoughts on “What Brow are You? The Dabbler’s Style Guide – Highbrow to Lowbrow

  1. Worm
    March 23, 2011 at 08:37

    how utterly awesome! Kudos to Susan and the spine for creating it! Turns out my brow is less Boris Johnson and more Martin Johnson

  2. info@shopcurious.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 08:52

    The Spine has done a totally brilliant job illustrating this – thank you David! And thanks to Brit for coming up with this marvellous idea. Does the high brow attire remind anyone else of Ronnie Corbett or Terry Wogan on the golf course? Could Brian Sewell kindly inform us what he’s wearing today…

  3. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    March 23, 2011 at 08:58

    For some reason I particularly like The Spine’s sketch of the trousers at Upper Middle-Brow. Amongst the finest cartoon trousers I’ve ever seen.

    Oh and I appear to be Alain de Botton.

  4. Gaw
    March 23, 2011 at 09:24

    And the truly diabolic nature of Terry Wogan has been captured wonderfully well. The earlobes alone will give me nightmares for weeks to come.

    I’ve heard the term ‘no-brow’ bandied around – what is it? It sounds like something to aspire to.

  5. finalcurtain@gmail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 09:25

    That’s better than my gender-change Brit – plus the unreal thought of sleeping with Gordy….

  6. Gaw
    March 23, 2011 at 09:28

    I appear to be a mix of high-brow and low-brow – but from 1940s America.

  7. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 09:29

    Nancy Mitford rides again, and is undoubtedly not Spineless. So what we are saying here is, low score, lower orders (get to spend a night in the hay with Coleen and some free foreign travel) whilst high score, upper orders (get to w..k for Salvador or ride a bike). Hmmm, thinks, at the moment..Rohan insulated bags with torn leg, fifteen year old Tommy Pink dicky dirt, Patagonia scruffy fleece, Rat Hat hat, wellies, Marksies socks, Reading a Countax maintainance manual and listening to Judy Tsuke, dear lord, when will I find a niche and who am I.

    Keep up the good works Susan.

  8. mcrean@snowpetrel.net'
    March 23, 2011 at 09:34

    What a marvellous idea! I can imagine this being turned into a kind of Monopoly board with a few catches, such as when you land on a high-brow square from a low-brow one you are obliged to spend all your money in a tattoo-removal clinic.

  9. jameshamilton1968@gmail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 09:45

    I found the most British thing about this splendid chart was the way it expanded in the imagination: four classes are never enough, and I found myself trying to stretch it out further to distressed gentlefolk and Spanish Civil War Working Class and the kind of elderly working class enthusiast you see providing expert whispered guidance to the grandkids in Kelvingrove Art Gallery on Sundays. As it was, the chart’s success can be measured by the bad-taste shudder all four types gave me (how can they like that? Why would they want to DO that?) and the subsequent urge to put Woody Allen’s Manhattan on to clean the palate.

    And I want to take issue with your assertion that I’m Sarah Brown, even by a whisker.

  10. tanith@telegraphy.co.uk'
    March 23, 2011 at 10:01

    I thought I might cut them all out, put them in a hat and draw out a few as a day planner.

    Curiously, Brit, I too turned out to be Alain de Botton, so will be attempting to assume that role during the day.

  11. nigeandrew@gmail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 10:12

    Brilliant! I’m Wayne Rooney, the spud-faced nipper – who’d have thought it?

    • Brit
      March 23, 2011 at 10:15

      That must mean that you spend your free hours at lapdancing clubs and dog fights, in your George jeans and cravat, Nige…

  12. philipwilkinson@ukonline.co.uk'
    March 23, 2011 at 10:17

    Although I’ve been accused in my time of looking like Alain de Botton (quote from friend: ‘It’s all very well looking like Alain de Botton, but where’s the f***ing 4-million-pound trust fund?’), I seem to be a dyed-in-the-slingbacks Sarah Brown. Heigh-ho…

  13. john.hh43@googlemail.com'
    john halliwell
    March 23, 2011 at 10:28

    After a great deal of thought about where I match in each category, and having jumped all over the chart, I conclude I’m the love child of a sophisticated duchess and Barney Rubble, with the genes heavily skewed in favour of Barney…

  14. b.smedley@dsl.pipex.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 10:57

    Do people really buy new chairs? And if so, why?

    • Brit
      March 23, 2011 at 10:59

      Aha! You MUST be Brian Sewell with a comment like that, ‘Barendina’…

  15. stan@stanmadeley.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 11:48

    What a load of rubbish. According to this, I’m low-brow on the basis of my taste for chicken cottage coleslaw, ownership of a pit-bull, and passion for gangsta rap. I’m going to see what it says about my wife, Sandra (54), when she gets back from her lapdancing lesson.

  16. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 12:05

    Brian could not possibly be a 44 pointer, he wears striped shirts for goodness sake, Rodders on the other hand, is a dead ringer, the man should be crowned head of state, what a state.

    If the ‘little something from the cellar’ happens to be coal..how many points?

  17. bugbrit@live.com'
    Banished To A Pompous Land
    March 23, 2011 at 16:34

    I’ve had to make a few adjustments as far as brands and locations are concerned. But apparently I’m a bastardised ( or should I know type bastardiZed) ex-pat Sarah Brown.

    What, I wonder, is the transatlantic equivalent?

  18. bugbrit@live.com'
    Banished To A Pompous Land
    March 23, 2011 at 17:47

    And I’m adopting the 1940s Time high brow musical classification from now on.

    ‘Bach and Before, Ives and After’ Short and very sweet.

  19. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 20:27

    Spanner in the works (2), bugger oi down dead, flicking around the box of mediocrity this fine evening and who pops out, none other than Brian Brian the 44 point lion. The plot thickens, appearing on a programme called junior question time, a spin off from the original baby question time, minus Norman nepotism. What a good idea, I lied, the line up included, G.Galloway plus that snide who used to be mayor of the inner M25 and some dopey liberal, plus others. As I rappelled among the viewers Brian was the sprecher, talking about, something or other, inflation I think or possibly not, I was by now gazing into the middle distance.
    Fool that I am for asking, how can someone who agrees to flagellate himself in public next to Galloway and Ken, the bubonic twins, be considered the crème de la crème, Rab C more like.

    Any chance of a downgrade?

  20. info@shopcurious.com'
    March 23, 2011 at 22:29

    Thanks for that, Malty! Downgrade approved. I forwarded this to some friends, who are too shy to comment. Though one of them said, “you missed a category of what chocolate do you eat? That is a great social barometer.”

    Personally, I prefer nuts (so I must be low-brow?).There are innumerable categories which could be added (and women’s tastes), but this works rather effectively as is. Not sure what ‘no-brow’ is, Gaw, sounds like a nasty accident at a beauty salon.

    • jgslang@gmail.com'
      March 24, 2011 at 08:23

      No-brow. You have a choice:
      1. vulgar, tasteless
      2. intellectually neutral, linked neither to ‘high’ nor ‘low’ culture.

      • Gaw
        March 24, 2011 at 16:01

        Thanks! No-brow = po-mo?

    • bugbrit@live.com'
      Banished To A Pompous Land
      March 24, 2011 at 15:54

      And lets not forget the uni-brow, indicator of lycanthropy and so much more.

  21. lurethesea@live.co.uk'
    March 24, 2011 at 12:39

    WOW! Superb illustration by that very talented man from The Spine!

  22. alasguinns@me.com'
    Hey Skipper
    March 25, 2011 at 03:20

    Hmmm … add three, carry the five … and that makes me monobrow.

Comments are closed.