How to dress like a Gentleman – hints from the year 1860 | Timeless Fashion for Men

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“The French have a proverb, ‘It is not the cowl which makes the monk,’ and it might be said with equal truth, ‘It is not the dress which makes the gentleman,’ yet, as the monk is known abroad by his cowl, so the true gentleman will let the refinement of his mind and education be seen in his dress.”

Source: How to dress like a Gentleman – hints from year 1860 – Timeless Fashion for men

I had just noted on my Facebook page that the following comment, from my 2014 “Memories,” is still not entirely untrue today, even though I am in slightly less dire straits in financial / employment terms than I was then:

“I am not unaware of the irony, but I feel a bit like an ‘impoverished gentlemen’ of the 17th, 18th, or even 19th centuries, trying as best he may to retain at least the vestiges of his social class, even if he has not the financial wherewithal to maintain it fully…”

Le sigh! But there has been improvement – significant improvement, compared to unemployment: I am gainfully employed, even if my solvency is yet a mite precarious, at times – and I am grateful. Thanks be to God!

But it was interesting, in that context, to encounter (in the course of an internet search) the linked article, and this passage in particular:

“Between the sloven and the coxcomb there is generally a competition [as to] which shall be the more contemptible: the one in the total neglect of every thing which might make his appearance in public supportable, and the other in the cultivation of every superfluous ornament. The former offends by his negligence and dirt, and the latter by his finery and perfumery.

“Each entertains a supreme contempt for the other, and while both are right in their opinion, both are wrong in their practice. It is not in either extreme that the man of real elegance and refinement will be shown, but in the happy medium which allows taste and judgment to preside over the wardrobe and toilet-table, while it prevents too great an attention to either, and never allows personal appearance to become the leading object of life.”

The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette, Cecil B. Hartley (1860), quoted in the article: the source also of my opening quote, below the picture.

I shall not quote Messr. Hartley’s guide to gentlemen’s etiquette further at length; those who are interested are encouraged to click through the link, and read it for themselves! But I will make note of one point:

“The first rule for the guidance of a man, in matters of dress, should be, ‘Let the dress suit the occasion.’ It is as absurd for a man to go into the street in the morning with his dress-coat, white kid gloves, and dancing-boots, as it would be for a lady to promenade the fashionable streets, in full evening dress, or for the same man to present himself in the ball-room with heavy walking-boots, a great coat, and riding-cap.”

It is precisely this point – appropriateness, or “letting the dress suit the occasion” – which is so frequently forgotten or ignored in these more plebian (not to say Philistine), days, when the relentless casual-ization of everything has proceeded apace since the late 1960s (the process did not begin then, it should be noted; only accelerated dramatically). And as the essay also notes,

“In some ways it has gotten better, less rules to follow and a freedom to express the individuality through the different tastes and styles that each and everyone of us prefer. However, we could all learn a couple of things from our ancestors regarding the etiquette rules of dressing properly.”

It is one thing to rejoice in the fact that present standards afford us a greater freedom and flexibility (and often, comfort) in how we dress to suit the occasion. It is another entirely to decide that a t-shirt and ball-cap is acceptable, nay, de rigeur for any occasion whatsoever! And that is all that I shall say on the subject, at present.

Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes? | The Catholic Thing

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This particular pair of “distressed” jeans is only $19.97 at the website “Zulily“; many are much more expensive. Young women (and some young males) are paying good money for clothing (?) that looks like they rescued it from the dumpster.

Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes? Short answer: yes. Deliberately ripped garments work against the purpose of clothes. They are caricatures of clothing.

Source: Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes?

This article, the link to which appeared in my email in-box this morning, is timely. I had just been thinking, over the last week or so, about the difference in attire between “my generation” in middle and high school, and what I am seeing now, at the high school where I teach driver education.

In some respects, high schoolers are dressing, at least in school – whether voluntarily or due to imposed dress-codes, I do not know – in a way that is less overtly revealing or provocative they they did in my day. (I am addressing primarily female students’ attire, as I have never had, and still do not, any interest in inspecting males or their clothing! But many of the same problems and principles apply equally to popular contemporary male attire.)

At any rate, there are fewer bare midriffs, nowadays; fewer if any camisole tops and not many tank-tops. Shorts (if worn at all) are, for the most part, not particularly short. Skirts of any sort are rare, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a miniskirt (wail and gnash your teeth, women for whom the “right” to wear a miniskirt was a political issue in the 1970s). And while there are “skinny jeans,” there is something decidedly less attractive about the way they hug the form than I recall of the Jordaches and Calvin Kleins of yesteryear!

In that sense, I suppose it could be said that young women are dressing (at least while at school) more “modestly” than they used to, “back in the day.” That is good, to a point. The problem is what they’re replacing it with. Continue reading “Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes? | The Catholic Thing”

“Normies” and rebels

Just one more, and then I promise I will recede back into my self-imposed Lenten sabbatical, at least for a while…!

This came across my news-feed just this morning:

Normie vs Rebel

Nowadays, this is all too sadly true.

Too many young women today are destroying their natural beauty with tattoos and piercings, scrawling all over the masterpiece God made them to be, and dressing to be provocative or shocking rather than in ways that exemplify an objective standard of beauty, such as that expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Beauty, as St. Thomas says, is objective and has four attributes: truth, goodness, oneness and symmetry.  Beauty, when comprised of these qualities, directs us to God…

Truth can be seen in clothing [and, I would add, other forms of adornment] that identifies the wearer as a man or woman, his status and occupation, even his character and family. Goodness is in the quality of materials and fine workmanship, and in the modesty that respects the natural virtues. Oneness is in the completeness of the ensemble and the way it matches in an ordered way. Symmetry is the proportion, consistency and uniformity that comprise it.

See the images above and to the right, and below, for classic examples! Examples of the alternative are all too easy to find, and need not be dwelt upon.

“This can be applied to everything: music and architecture, furnishings in the home, work and crafts, words and manners, meals and dinner tables, beautiful prayers and good reading. Local traditions sustain cultural beauty in holidays, ceremonies and ways of being that began long ago when people turned to God and received a flow of grace to generations. This realization makes us love and keep alive tradition. Beauty is expressed in many cultures and is diverse since God’s creation is immense. However, beauty cannot go against the natural order.”

Traditionalism, the revolt against the excesses of the modern (and postmodern) age, is indeed the new counterculture. Be counter-cultural! Be a rebel! Vive la révolution nuvelle et ancienne! Ce qui est vieux est nouveau.

Tradition is the new counterculture - revolt against the modern world


Note: the young woman pictured above may be the lovely and talented Marilena – looks a lot like her, but I’m not sure it actually is. At any rate, be sure to click through to the linked video to see an example of how a young woman can be flirty and irresistible, without being degenerate in the process!

The Case Against Tattoos | Blue Collar Logic

This is an excellent video. The arguments are logical, reasonable, and well-expressed. And I don’t think that’s just confirmation bias, either, although I admit he and I are on the same side of this issue.

Full disclosure: I have never really liked tattoos. That some of them can be artistically interesting is beside the point: that artistry could have been expressed in a different medium. And I especially don’t care for them on girls and young women – or women in general, for that matter. Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to a small, tasteful, and discretely-placed tattoo on a woman. But anything more reminds me, frankly, of someone spray-painting graffiti all over the Sistine Chapel.

As Dave Morrison points out at the beginning of this video, if you already have the equivalent of a full-sleeve tattoo (or more), don’t bother watching. It’s too late. If you have a small rose, butterfly, faerie, etc., on your hip-line (or equivalent), and firmly intend to stop there, you don’t need this video. But if you’re looking forward anxiously to getting inked, or getting more ink, then maybe it might be a good idea to watch, listen, and ponder the wisdom of Morison’s words.

And if you know somebody who is, especially a teenage girl, it might not be a bad idea to share. The self-respect you save could be that of someone you care about.

UPDATE: The above-linked video was directed primarily at young women. He has since posted one directed toward young men:

How Did America Become a Nation of Slobs? | Intellectual Takeout

How Did America Become a Nation of Slobs?

Are we rebelling against the idea of beauty and culture? Or are we just too lazy to pull on a pair of slacks instead of wearing the sweats we slept in?

Source: How Did America Become a Nation of Slobs? | Intellectual Takeout

“What does our own sloppy dress tell us about ourselves? Are we too pressed for time to dress a little up rather than way down? Are we rebelling against the idea of beauty and culture? Or are we just too lazy to pull on a pair of slacks instead of wearing the sweats we slept in?”

I confess, I am sometimes guilty of prioritizing comfort over appearance, myself, but even so, I do have standards. In recent years, I have largely ditched the jeans – comfy as they undoubtedly are – for all except informal occasions (such as County Fairs!), weekends or an evening spent lounging around the house, or projects. Ditto t-shirts.

When it comes to employment, as a driver education instructor, Oxford shirt, tie, and blazer is a bit too dressy (and impractical) for 8-to-10 hours in the car, but khakis – albeit often a more refined version of “cargo”-style ones (those pockets come in handy!) – and polo or button-down shirts are my more typical attire.

I also confess, I have long wondered why we – by which I mean, the larger culture, not every individual in it – seem to have lost the ability to dress, look, and act “respectable.” Clothing is only part of the issue, of course, but it is a part, and an important one. Like it or not, first impressions count; people do make snap judgements based on what someone looks like, and that includes how they dress.

Beyond that, it’s also a matter of self-respect, as well as respect for others, and for the community / public square itself. For myself, I find that I often hear my mother’s voice, whispering in my ear, reminding me to, as she put it, “put your best foot forward.” That is still good advice, in my opinion!

Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey speaks on the Pink & Green Uniform – YouTube

While I’m on the subject of uniforms: I am very pleased that the U.S. Army is giving serious consideration to reintroducing the WW II-era “Pink and Green” (actually khaki and dark-olive-drab) Service Dress uniform, one of the sharpest service-dress uniforms – I would say, the sharpest – the Army has ever had.

Service Dress occupies an intermediate stage of formality between Battledress (BDUs or the newer ACUs – Advanced Combat Uniform) and Full Dress uniforms, and as Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, who is a staunch advocate of the Pink & Greens, points out in this video, provides “something the soldier can wear day-to-day, when they’re not wearing the battledress uniform, and they can feel and look like professional soldiers.”

I am all for it – admittedly, with my father having been a member of the “Greatest Generation,” a decorated combat soldier of WW II, I am biased in the direction of this classic uniform! – and hope it comes about. It seems to be getting a lot of positive feedback (in many ways it remains the classic US Army uniform, in the minds of many people), so I am hopeful!

Behind The Uniform: Making The British Military Look Impeccable | Forces TV – YouTube

Fascinating look-behind-the-look of the British military uniform – at least with respect to the high-end Service Dress and Mess Dress uniforms!