Friday, November 14, 2008

Dandies In Print: What A Man Should Know

I finally picked up a copy of What A Man Should Know, J. Crew's gentlemanly guide by Max Blagg. An all purpose list of 50 tips from "A man should know how to salt his conversation" to "A man should know how to fire up a barbecue without starter fluid."

Most relevant here:

A man should know when to ignore certain rules of clothing etiquette: For instance, the canard that he should not bedeck himself in shades of white or linen fabrics once Labor Day has come and gone. Refuse such orthodoxy! You're a big boy now. You can dress yourself.

A man should know the true history of the blue blazer: Especially if he is wearing one. Back around 1837, Queen Victoria was making one of her surprise visits to the Fleet. The Captain of the HMS Blazer, appalled at the scruffy condition of his crew, had the ship's tailor, a genius at improvisation, sew up some sharp new uniforms, using an onboard supply of blue serge and some spare brass buttons. The tailor knocked off the double-breasted style of the standard mariner issue reefer jacket. The Queen remarked on the elegance of the crew and the "blazer" was born. Later variations produced the now classic single-breasted version with two buttons, a notched lapel and a center vent, but in either form, the navy blazer still rules.

A man should know how to tie a necktie: The tie is a useful accoutrement in helping to conceal too convex a body shape. It hides missing shirt buttons, too. According to a scientific study, there are 85 ways to tie a necktie, but one only needs to know those few that demonstrate symmetry and balance, like the Windsor or the classic four-in-hand.

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