A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up is not a book about style—it is a book about the rules—rules that will allow any man to feel more comfortable in the choices he makes about what he wears.
Let’s get one thing straight. Clothes do not make the man . . . but they do make a difference. And regardless of whether we like the idea of appearances driving impressions, a man’s exterior often is perceived as an indicator of what’s happening on the interior.
Fortunately, tasteful and appropriate dressing doesn’t require inordinate amounts of time or money. Any man can hit the door in fine shape with only a little forethought and a bit of attention to a few guidelines. Never mind the heady cologne and designer labels. With a navy blazer, a good bar of soap, and a regular haircut regimen, he’ll be well on his way to becoming the guy who knows exactly how to suit up, regardless of the occasion. Most important, A Gentleman Gets Dressed Up illustrates how a man’s natural confidence and personality are the best foundation for any wardrobe.
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About the Author
John Bridges, author of How to Be a Gentleman, is also the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society. Bridges has appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and CBS Sunday Morning, and has been profiled in People magazine and the New York Times.
Bryan Curtis is an author and the president of Dance Floor Books. He is the author/coauthor and editor of more than 25 books, including My South, My Southern Food, Classic Wisdom for the Good Life, Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life, and the popular GentleManners series.
Read an Excerpt
A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UPWHAT TO WEAR, WHEN TO WEAR IT, HOW TO WEAR IT
By JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 John Bridges and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA GENTLEMAN FROM HEAD TO TOE
An Operator's Guide to the Wardrobe Essentials
A gentleman knows that looking good is not just about the grand gesture—the purchase of a trendy designer suit or a pair of obviously Italian-made lace-ups. He knows that, ultimately, being well dressed is about the details—the way he buttons his simple, navy-blue suit jacket or the way he makes sure his penny loafers are always neatly shined.
He knows that, if he pays attention, the drape of his trousers will not be destroyed by pockets made saggy by the burden of car keys, an overstuffed wallet, and a cell phone. He knows that, by taking a moment before rushing out the door in the morning, he can avoid the embarrassment of discovering, shortly before lunchtime, that he's gone halfway through the day wearing mismatched socks. He knows that, with a neatly folded pocket square in his breast pocket and a crisp dimple in his tie, he can declare his personal style without making an issue of the price tag, whether great or small.
A gentleman's ultimate goal is to travel through life as if he were a polished machine and a complete work of art. The following pages offer the advice, instructions, and vocabulary necessary to help him achieve that goal—not only from top to bottom, but also from the inside out.
HATS AND CAPS
The days are long gone when a hat was a part of a gentleman's everyday existence. Nevertheless, if a gentleman feels comfortable in a hat, be it the familiar fedora to protect him from the chill of winter or a snappy boater to shield him from the heat of the sun, he wears it—recognizing all the while that he is likely to be in the minority these days. He may come off either as an oddity or as the object of universal admiration—the key is the gentleman's own self-confidence and personal style.
A gentleman understands that a hat exists for utilitarian purposes, either to keep him warm or to keep him cool. He understands, therefore, that there is no reason for a hat, or a cap, to be worn inside.
* * *
A gentleman may wear his hat or cap in the public areas of any building, other than a house of worship. He understands that public areas include elevators, department stores, and hotel lobbies. He also understands that public areas do not include the reception rooms of doctors' or lawyers' offices or any other place where he expects to engage in one-to-one conversation for any length of time.
* * *
If a non-Jewish gentleman accepts an invitation to a Jewish wedding ceremony, funeral, or bar or bat mitzvah, he understands that he may be expected to put on a yarmulke, at least for the time of the ceremony.
If a gentleman has elected to add a hat—a fedora, a Panama, or a boater, for example—to his celebratory getup at a wedding, he removes it inside the house of worship and under the wedding or reception tent. To make life easier for himself while inside the country club or restaurant where the reception is held, he checks his hat at the door.
* * *
If a gentleman wears a hat while traveling on a short trip by train or bus, he may choose not to remove it or simply to hold it in his hand. For a longer trip, by train or airplane, however, he will most likely wish to remove his hat, stowing it as carefully as he can in an overhead bin or beneath the seat in front of him.
* * *
If a gentleman wears a hat of any kind, even if it is a baseball cap, a stocking cap, or headgear associated with his favorite sports team, he removes it during prayer, during the National Anthem, and during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Unless a gentleman is attending a funeral where men are expected to cover their heads, he removes his hat at any funeral or memorial service. If he attends a graveside service, especially during inclement weather, he may choose to wear his hat, although he understands that he must remove it during any formal prayers.
* * *
If a gentleman is given to wearing outlandish headgear—such as a plaid deerstalker or a Russian sable cap with earflaps—he understands that he is likely to attract attention.
* * *
If a gentleman is given to wearing Russian sable caps with earflaps, he may wish to consult a doctor about his need for attention.
A Gentleman Tips His Hat
If a gentleman elects to wear a hat, or a cap, he understands what to do with it when greeting others. He "tips" his hat whenever he is being introduced to a new acquaintance or whenever he greets a lady, an older person, or a distinguished personage of either sex. He feels no particular need to tip his hat when greeting another gentleman of approximately his own age and status, although hat tipping always suggests congeniality and respect.
The tradition of tipping one's hat dates from the Middle Ages, when noblemen removed their helmets when greeting one another so as to demonstrate their peaceable intentions and to indicate that they had no fear while in the fellow nobleman's presence. A knight removed his helmet in the presence of a lady, of course, to indicate that he was at her service and that he had no thoughts of seizing her for ransom.
A gentleman understands that "tipping" his hat no longer means that he must remove it entirely. Instead, he may simply lift his hat quickly from his head and replace it immediately, especially if the wind is chill or if the sun is hot. He may, in fact, simply give the brim of his hat or cap a quick touch, "tipping" it as an indication that he is a man of peace, goodwill, and good breeding.
How to Determine Hat Size
Place one end of a tape measure against your forehead, at the level where your hat will sit. Bring the tape around your head to determine your "head measurement," which then determines your "hat size." Do not attempt to understand the relationship between the two. Simply trust the chart provided herewith:
Head Measurement Head Size Hat Size
21 1/8" 63/4 S 21 1/2" 67/8 S 21 7/8" 7 M 22 1/4" 71/8 M 22 5/8" 71/4 L 23" 73/8 L 23 1/2" 71/2 XL 23 7/8" 75/8 XL 24 1/4" 73/4 2X 24 5/8" 77/8 2X 25" 8 3X
HAIRCUTS AND GROOMING
No matter what his budget or his background, when a gentleman heads out for a party or any other public occasion, good grooming is always his first priority. He makes sure that his hair is clean and recently cut. Even if he chooses not to indulge in the services of a manicurist, he makes sure that his nails are always clean and freshly trimmed. He shaves carefully and as often as necessary. If he chooses to wear a moustache or beard, he keeps it neatly trimmed. He showers regularly so as to avoid body odor and knows that a good bar of soap is considerably less expensive than a cover-up with heavy cologne. He makes such procedures part of his daily regimen, not saving them for special occasions.
A gentleman owns a pair of tweezers, a set of nail clippers, and a nail file.
* * *
A gentleman may have little control over that moment when his hairline begins to recede or when his bald spot begins to gleam in the candlelight. He can, however, attempt to keep his wits about him, working with his barber or hairdresser to select a haircut that accentuates his noble bone structure, while drawing attention away from the haircut itself. He washes his hair regularly, using a good shampoo and avoiding heavy pomades and hairdressings. At all costs, he avoids wearing the country preacher combover, which fools nobody and only draws attention to the gentleman's inordinate, and unfortunate, vanity.
* * *
A gentleman has no shame in requesting that his barber trim his eyebrows and the hair inside his ears.
While a gentleman avoids any urge to wear heavy makeup, he may still take advantage of skin care products that help him cope with blemishes, razor burn, and dark circles under his eyes. He also may wish to indulge in a good skin toner or the occasional facial scrub, simply because they make him feel better and because he knows they will pay off, in the long run, by helping him look younger—and feel younger—in ways that cosmetic surgery could never do.
* * *
If a gentleman has a dandruff problem, he attempts to correct it by using a medicated shampoo or, if necessary, by consulting his physician. He knows, after all, that black dinner jackets are likely to be a staple of his wardrobe.
* * *
A gentleman's barber understands the necessities of a gentleman's social life, sometimes allowing him to schedule last-minute appointments for a trim around the ears.
When a gentleman's barber or stylist does him this sort of favor, a gentleman tips accordingly.
* * *
A gentleman has two eyebrows. If he must pluck the hair connecting them, he does so.
* * *
If a gentleman is frequently called upon to attend social events hard on the heels of his workday, he keeps a well-equipped toiletry kit at his office.
* * *
If a gentleman thinks of using hair spray, he thinks again.
* * *
A gentleman does not try out a new hairstyle on an important occasion—be it a first date, a high-profile society ball, a job interview, or his own wedding.
If a gentleman receives compliments for the smell of his cologne, or the scent of his hair gel, he is wearing too much of a good thing.
* * *
A gentleman takes good care of his teeth, brushing them several times daily and flossing regularly. He knows that the gleam of his smile can divert from the shine on his suit.
* * *
Unless he is a news anchor or a professional actor, a gentleman does not wear pancake makeup, which is likely to leave unsightly stains on his shirt collar.
* * *
If a gentleman plans to attend a social occasion, he schedules an appointment with his barber so he can make the freshest, neatest appearance possible.
A gentleman may, however, treat himself to a facial scrub on a regular basis, just as he may treat himself to a good facial astringent, a soothing aftershave cream, or a cooling eye cream (particularly if he's been putting in long days at the office—and suffering the sleepless nights that follow them).
* * *
A gentleman washes his face at least once a day, and twice if he is smart.
* * *
A gentleman cleans his ears, checking them for wax build-up and leftover shaving cream.
* * *
A gentleman clips his nose hairs. At a certain point in his life, well before the end of his forties, he invests in a good-quality electric trimmer for his ears and his nostrils.
* * *
A gentleman uses deodorant.
A Gentleman and His Cologne
A gentleman considers cologne intimate apparel. It should not cause comment, positive or negative, among other people in the room. Instead, it should be saved as a pleasant surprise for people with whom he makes close physical contact. A gentleman understands that cologne is, after all, an accessory. It is not to be used as a substitute for deodorant. A dab on either side of the neck, with another drop on a gentleman's pocket handkerchief, is quite enough.
When used to excess, cologne is annoying and raises questions about what smells are being covered up. Anytime a person can identify the brand of scent that a man is wearing, he is wearing too much.
A Few Words About Shaving
No matter how formal or informal the occasion, if an event occurs on a weeknight, a gentleman is likely to be faced with the ordeal of shaving twice in one day. If a gentleman has sensitive, easily abraded skin, having shaved twice in a day may well lead to a night of torture. Therefore, a gentleman is well advised to think ahead.
If he expects to shave twice in twenty-four hours, he uses a fresh razor (or razor blade) each time he lathers up. He makes sure to moisten his beard thoroughly before shaving and to use plenty of hot water so as to keep his face well steamed throughout the process. If a gentleman is rushed while preparing for a social occasion of any sort, he is well advised to shave before showering, in hopes that the steam of his bath will further moisturize his skin and soften any razor-burn abrasions.
Just to make sure, a gentleman is wise to treat his neck to a simple, unscented lotion, followed by a dash of unfussy talcum powder, before buttoning his collar. Later in the evening, while other gentlemen are straining at their collars, he will be grateful for his foresight.
If a gentleman finds that he has nicked himself while shaving, he does not resort to quick fixes, such as styptic pencils. Instead, he takes his time, applying ice cubes and stanching with toilet tissue. He may arrive late at the party, but at least, he will not discover, mid-evening, that his shirt-collar is spackled with gobbets of blood.
And always, just before walking out the door, a gentleman checks his earlobes, just to make sure he is not sporting the dried residue of his shaving cream.
TIES AND OTHER NECKWEAR
In many high-powered professions, such as law and banking, the necktie remains an everyday fact of life, but even in those professions, it is no longer taken for granted as an obligatory part of the daily dress code. Neckties, however, remain one of the defining factors of the dress codes for many social occasions. (Is it a "black tie" dinner? Is it a "white tie" dance? Even if there's no real "dress code," must I wear a tie to a funeral? Can I get by with a black turtleneck?) Thus, learning which tie to wear and how to tie it—in a variety of knots—remains one of the rituals of training for the gentlemanly life.
A gentleman selects his necktie so that it complements his suit jacket or sports coat.
* * *
A gentleman knows that a necktie in a deep red, such as crimson, complements almost any jacket.
* * *
A gentleman never wears a necktie that precisely matches his pocket-handkerchief.
* * *
A gentleman ties his own bow tie.
* * *
Knowing that he will be called upon to tie his own bow tie, a gentleman practices ahead of time—the day or even the week before he expects to get dressed up.
* * *
A gentleman ties his standard necktie so that its tip grazes his waistband.
If a gentleman ties his necktie only to discover that two shirt buttons have been left exposed, he ties his tie again.
* * *
A gentleman never tucks his over-long necktie into the waistband of his trousers.
* * *
A tall or heavy-built gentleman is well advised to purchase extra-long neckties.
* * *
A gentleman avoids wearing tie tacks or tie bars, even if they hold sentimental value for him.
* * *
A gentleman brushes his teeth before putting on his tie—even if it is a bow tie.
* * *
When tightening his tie, a gentleman gathers the fabric into one simple dimple, to give the knot a finished look and to avoid overly wrinkling the fabric.
When a gentleman washes his hands, he tosses the ends of his necktie behind his neck to avoid spotting them with water.
* * *
At all times, but especially on formal occasions, a gentleman is careful not to dribble food on his tie and shirtfront. Nevertheless, except at the most casual gatherings for pizza or pasta, he never tucks his napkin into the neck of his shirt. Instead, he learns not to overload his fork and spoon when transporting messy sauces from table to tongue.
* * *
A gentleman is wary of neckties that have hung in his closet the past fifteen years without being worn. A style change of as little as a quarter inch can transform an otherwise beautiful tie into a fashion relic.
* * *
Whether his tie is a recent purchase or an old favorite, a gentleman always checks it for food stains and fabric snags.
A gentleman wears an ascot only if he is also wearing a velvet smoking jacket and a pair of embroidered slippers.
* * *
If a gentleman chooses to wear an ascot, a velvet smoking jacket, or a pair of embroidered slippers, he pays the price for his decision.
Excerpted from A GENTLEMAN GETS DRESSED UP by JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS Copyright © 2011 by John Bridges and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Gentleman from Head to Toe....................1
Hats and Caps....................3
Haircuts and Grooming....................10
Ties and Other Neckwear....................19
Shirts, Collars, and Cuffs....................40
Suits, Blazers, and Sports Coats....................58
The Finishing Touches....................92
A Gentleman for All Occasions....................111
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Wedding....................114
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Cocktail Party....................120
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Funeral....................122
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Religious Service....................123
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Job Interview....................125
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for the Office....................126
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Concert....................128
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Cookout....................129
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Night on the Town....................130
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a White-Tie Fundraiser....................131
A Gentleman Gets Dressed for a Masked Ball....................133
A Gentleman Gets Ready for a Party....................134
A Gentlman Takes Care of His Clothes....................137
A Gentleman Goes Shopping....................143
A Gentleman Is Only Human....................153