Dorothy Parker? Oscar Wilde? Alexandre Dumas? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: While streaming an elaborately expensive television series I encountered a gratuitous scene with scanty clothing. I was reminded of this witticism: Nothing succeeds like undress.
This quip has been attributed to Dorothy Parker. Would you please explore the provenance of this remark?
Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in January 1906 in a New Castle, Pennsylvania newspaper within a column featuring miscellaneous comical remarks. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1906 January 1, New Castle Herald, Scissorings, Quote Page 6, Column 5, New Castle, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)
Motto for Ladies at the Opera—Nothing succeeds like undress.—Town Topics.
Thus, the creator was anonymous. Dorothy Parker used this quip in 1918 after it was already in circulation. Here is an overview with dates of the pertinent family of sayings:
1827: Rien ne réussit comme un succès.(Jacques-François Ancelot)
1847 Nov: Nothing succeeds like success. (English translation of Alexandre Dumas)
1893: Nothing succeeds like excess. (Oscar Wilde)
1904 Mar: Nothing recedes like success. (Anonymous)
1904 Nov: Nothing recedes like ex-success. (Duncan M. Smith)
1906 Jan: Nothing succeeds like undress. (Anonymous)
1918 Apr: Nothing succeeds like undress. (Dorothy Parker)
A separate Quote Investigator article centered on the saying “Nothing succeeds like success” is available here.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1906 January 1, New Castle Herald, Scissorings, Quote Page 6, Column 5, New Castle, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)|