The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to embrace classic style in the broadest sense. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. Enough is enough. Here is where you can learn how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Can we stop letting ourselves go, please?

Another nice Laurence Fellows (or Leslie Saalberg?) illustration from way back when.

I had another one of 'those' emails waiting for me this morning.  You know the kind.  Written in the heat of the moment, it started with, "It must really give you a charge to look down on other people. . ."  before devolving quickly into various expletives, misspelled words, and the occasional grammatical error sprinkled throughout the e-tirade.  Blah, blah.  Blah, blah.  Blah, blah.  

Clearly, frank discussion about cultivating a more polished appearance and more polite conduct rubs some people the wrong way for whatever reason.  But as the tagline of The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style suggests, we don't mince words around here.  And while I neither have the time, nor inclination to address the rather nasty message sent to me point by point, I will say this.  What is genuinely distressing is that we have let ourselves go as a society in the last few decades.  If that makes me a snob and an elitist, so be it.  

Of course, you cannot live your life longing for the return of hats, walking sticks, gloves, and calling cards for gentlemen.  Neither can we reverse various trends of the last 50+ years, many of which have done society a lot of good.  But where common courtesy, decency, politeness, pleasant conduct, and a basic standard of acceptable appearance are concerned?  There is no way you can argue that we have not allowed ourselves to slide, and in many instances just plain let ourselves go, during the same span of time.  

The causes are many, no doubt, so we can't simply attribute our collective disheveled nature to the tech boom at the end of the 20th century, the rise of the (too) casual workplace, reality TV and the worship of so called celebrities (many of whom behave terribly), or the arrival of grunge music and fashion in the early 90s.  Neither can we place all of the blame at the feet of the baby boomers, many of whom rejected the ideals of their WWII and Korean War-era parents during the late 60s and early 70s.  And it's not simply because of the Internet and readily accessible social media either.  

Whatever might be behind it, it is safe to say that there are many factors contributing to the marked decline of good manners and polite behavior in recent decades.  For the moment, let's just include dressing presentably as part of that.  Determining the precise origins of our current malaise, though, must remain the preserve of sociologists, social anthropologists, and social historians out there. For any ABD's in those fields, who might be reading this blog, there is bound to be at least a conference paper or journal article that, potentially, could be spun out of a close study of the topic.

Returning to the point at hand, though, consider this.  Is it really in our best interest to continue allowing ourselves to sink to the lowest common denominator where our thoughts, attitudes, habits, practices, how we speak, and what we talk about are concerned?  That might seem, at first glance, a more egalitarian and democratic approach because no one has to aspire to anything better, and, therefore, nothing is beyond the reach of anyone.  It is certainly the path of least resistance.  We simply exist amid our stinking clutter at home, wear pilled fleeces and/or polyester shirts with the company logo to our dreary, florescent-lighted cubicles at work -- as mind-numbing and soul destroying in its own way as assembly line work in heavy industry before the bottom fell out -- or shamble along the street in a cloud of barely contained rage at whatever we perceive to the root cause of our unhappiness and discontent of the moment, everything and everyone else around us be damned.  You know?  "Better get out of my way, or I'll mess you the #@!%&* up chump!"  

Sloppiness, in its various permutations, tends to beget sloppiness, though, which is what makes too many people in 2015 rather unpleasant company when you get right down to it.  Now, I realize that is not everyone.  I, likewise, hardly suggest we turn back the clock to 1955 and slavishly ape the idealized nuclear families portrayed on television situation comedies like Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, or Ozzie and Harriet (although I must admit to wearing my heels and pearls while running the vacuum cleaner around the first floor earlier this afternoon. . .  just kidding!).  It seems to me, however, that we as a society, and as individuals, ought to get a grip on ourselves.  We desperately need to start thinking a little more about others than has become the accepted norm, (re-) discover our self-respect, and then make some serious adjustments to our daily thought, behavior patterns, appearance, and speech. . .  both at home and in public.  

It's time to give that pendulum of changing attitudes and related behaviors a little push to help it swing the other way.  Don't you think?  So let's all interact with at least a modicum of polite consideration, pull up our pants, tuck in our shirts, and brush our hair.  Let's also wipe our noses from time to time and wash the sleep from our eyes.  It would sure make getting along much easier and more pleasant.  For everyone.  And who knows?  More people might actually turn out to be more likeable as a result of closer attention to their own daily upkeep and presentation.  It's just a thought.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, February 27, 2015

Frigid Late February Style. . .

The whole shebang for today, sans the gloves, an unseasonably frigid and snowy February 27th.  A bold tweed jacket by Southwick is hidden below the duffle coat.

A few more random thoughts about style, in the broadest sense, delivered very much in the spirit of last Friday's post.  As usual, the advice and comments that follow are based on my observation of and interaction with undergraduates and colleagues each and every week in the style and etiquette desert that exists on and around the campus of my small liberal arts college and much of the rest of the formerly civilized world.  Ready?  Here we go!

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When it comes to making your living space more stylish, try these easy and cheap fixes. . .  Straighten your crooked lampshades and any pictures hanging askew on the walls.  Even more important, pick up, put away, throw out, and/or recycle any accumulating clutter twice a week.  I've come across a few female slobs in my time, but living amidst piles of clutter usually seems to be something that afflicts boys and men in particular.

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Keep your mouth closed!  The following is not PC, so those of you easily offended, avert you eyes now.  Ready?  Ok.  Good.  Here goes.  You want to avoid looking like a slack-jawed village idiot, so remember to keep your mouth shut during moments of physical and verbal repose.  Otherwise, small insects and rodents seeking shelter might easily find their way into your gaping maw.

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Make sure your face and mouth are free from any food residue, powdered sugar, or dried saliva, guys!  Or, for that matter, the area around your nostrils and upper lip if you get my drift.  Not only after meals, but throughout the day.  Get in the habit of checking your face quickly in the mirror whenever you visit the restroom.  I was treated to this charming vision twice today before 9am during my early morning office hour, once with what I can only hope was tomato sauce on the cheeks of a middle-aged male non-traditional student, and once around the mouth of a traditional female undergrad.  Um, distracting and icky.  Don't people care what they look like?  Wait!  No need to respond.  We already know the sad answer.

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Match your metal!  No, this is not the title of a rare vinyl EP by some obscure New Wave of British Heavy Metal band from the late 70s or very early 80s.  Sorry.  What I mean is that the metal on your wristwatch and your belt buckle should match each other if at all possible.  Silver with silver, and gold with gold.  Do the same thing too for a tie clip if you go that route.

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Make a habit of carrying the following small items in your inner sports jacket, blazer, or suit coat pocket: a pressed and folded white handkerchief (for things other than blowing your nose in it), a small comb, and a decent quality ballpoint pen.  I like pens by Parker and Cross, but there are plenty of other good brands out there.  A billfold or wallet for your chest pocket is also a good idea since your posterior will look lumpy and unbalanced if you stuff a wallet into your hip pocket.  Notice that I did not mention an I-phone, although the inner chest pocket is a good spot for these too.  Some newer jackets and suit coats even have special pockets specifically for cell phones now.  Whatever you do, avoid those doofusy holster things that fit on your belt.  Unless you want to veer unwittingly into Star Trek convention territory.  .  .  with apologies to the recently departed Leonard Nimoy.

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Put on deodorant, guys!  One of my classrooms this morning was filled with the pungent aroma of unwashed/unprotected armpit this morning, so I cannot have been the only one in the room made uncomfortable by someone's poor hygiene. You would think poeple would know better by their late teens to early 20s, but apparently not.  The temperature in my neck of the woods was around 0 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, so perhaps the culprit thought he (or she) could get away without it?  I kind of doubt much thought was involved though. 

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Finally, where your attire is concerned, guys, don't fear plaids, checks, houndstooth, striped, or herringbone patterns.  Sometimes, a little flash can really help an average guy to stand out in a good way when he is working to kick up his everyday style several notches,  so long as he doesn't go overboard.  I suggest, and as you'll see in the photograph below, that you wear only one 'bold' item at a time and ground it by keeping everything else very simple in color and pattern.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Today's bold tweed jacket by Southwick ( a thrift/charity shop find) worn with a pale yellow OCBD shirt by Land's End, an almost invisible vintage wool plaid necktie by Rooster, a gray Shetland wool sweater L.L. Bean, golden dress corduroy pants by Land's End, and L.L. Bean 'duck shoes,' a concession to the snowy sidewalks here at home and on campus.  Better to save the leather dress shoes for once the snow has melted. . .  However, several more inches are on the way Saturday and Sunday this weekend, so the Young Master and I can get in a few more days of cross-country skiing this season.  Yes!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pull off a Suit with Savoir Faire. . .

A handy little visual primer of how to wear a suit, borrowed from Reddit.com.

A spare hour this morning before collecting the Young Master from school for lunch and then some cross-country skiing together, so it seems like a good time for some writing.  Let's talk suits today.  Not much call for them in many walks of life these days, but if and when you do wear a suit for any reason, more is involved than simply buying the cheapest thing you can find, or borrowing your cousin's when he is six inches taller than you.  Consider, for example, the following situation.

Yesterday morning, in one of my classes, a young man turned up dressed in a suit for something on campus, ether class or fraternity-related.  Fine.  It's always nice to see a guy trying to up his everyday style ante, and the student in question looked reasonably good from what I could tell relative to the other young men in the room.  But I had a class to start and run, and you don't want to stare and give anyone the wrong idea about anything.  Nevertheless, a few points stood out as I glanced around the room quickly to see who was present and prepared, and who was absent without leave, which gets us to the point of today's post.  When you wear a suit, make sure to:


1) Avoid a black suit unless you want to be mistaken as the understudy of Will Smith and/or Tommy Lee Jones.  Mid-gray, charcoal, or navy are the colors you want.  Not only does black show up every bit of dust that lands on you, it also shows wear and seems to fade more quickly than other colors. . .  besides making you resemble an undertaker.

2) Keep your suit clean and hanging in your closet between wearings on shaped hanger.

3) Brush down your suit after each wearing with a clothes brush to remove the day's dust from the fabric.

4) Have your suit professionally dry-cleaned and pressed if there are persistent stains that will not brush out.

5) Make it clear to the dry-cleaning clerk that you do not want the lapels creased.  Asked for a gentle roll instead.  If the cleaner's cannot get it right, find another who can.

6) Get a suit that fits you.  At the very least, have the sleeves and pants shortened.  Too many men in the United States wear suit coats that are too big, too boxy, and with sleeves, or pants that are far too long.  It might be a good idea to have the waist of the coat suppressed slightly when your tailor is taking care of the sleeves (a bit of cuff should show when your arms are relaxed at your sides) and inseam.

7) Unless it is extremely hot, muggy weather -- for example Philadelphia, Richmond, or Washington, D.C. in July or August --  keep your suit coat on, your shirt tucked in, your pants at your natural waist, and your necktie cinched up enough to cover the top button of your shirt, which should be buttoned.

8) Avoid hanging your suit coat on the back of your chair, if you absolutely most remove it, where it will surely get mangled as your body scrunches and slides around against it.  Invariably, garments that suffer this particular fate end up in a heap on the floor, or in the chair partially beneath your posterior.

9) "Ease" the legs of your pants as you sit down.  That means, basically, that you grasp the knees of your suit pants gently as you sit, and pull the up slightly to give your bent knees more room within the legs of your pants, preventing baggy, stretched out legs that resemble old blue jeans more than wool/linen/cotton pants that are part of a suit.

10) Button the top button of a two-button suit coat or middle button of a three-button model when you are standing or walking.  Unbutton before you sit down.  Double-breasted models generally remain buttoned although I am the only clown in the U.S. who seems to wear these at the moment.

11) Wear leather dress shoes with leather soles with a suit.  Inevitably, "comfort sole" sole shoes succeed only in making a guy look like shopping mall security personnel. . .  even if the suit is expensive and tailored to fit like a glove.  Don't spoil your overall look with cheap shoes.

12) Wear a necktie with a suit.  While it is possible to skip a tie with a more casual sports jacket or blazer and odd dress pants (or even jeans) combination, a suit just looks incomplete when worn without a tie.  No.  It makes no difference that various male celebrities of the moment do it, you will only succeed in looking as if you do not know any better when you wear a suit without a necktie.  That is not what kicking up your everyday style several notches is all about.  And remember, your necktie should not feature a cartoon character on it, ok Tweety Pie?


Remember, the goal is to become a man with grooming and sophistication.  Sometimes, that might involve dressing yourself in a suit.  When those rare occasions come around, you want to look like you know what you are are doing. . .  as though you have been doing this for your entire adult life, and, therefore, you come across as practiced and comfortable with the art of wearing suits.  

-- Heinz-Ulrich

"Dad neither high fives, nor bumps fists. Dad shakes hands."

My reply to an inane question posed by a teacher to my son, the Young Master, when he and I toured a potential kindergarten last Sunday afternoon.  He was asked if he could high five or fistbump Dad. . . confirming yet again that I have landed on a world where the chimpanzees and orangutans have taken over.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Are you a gobslotch?

Beating a dead horse, yes, but this old word was simply too wonderful not to mention here this morning.  Suffice to say, being a gobslotch is not how we want to come across to others as we work to kick our everyday style several notches up the evolutionary ladder.  We've had a few inches of powdery new snow overnight, so the Young Master and I are off to the local park for some cross-country (Nordic) skiing this afternoon when he has finished with school.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Hodge Podge of Random Thoughts. . .

Yet another great old Laurence Fellows illustration from Apparel Arts magazine.  Strange as it might seem, I wish I could put on a suit everyday, but lack of a household staff to take care of domestic chores and the Young Master make that less than practical much of the time.  Tweed jackets or blazers and odd corduroy pants combinations are a bit more forgiving (and warmer) most days in the middle of winter.  Still, a guy can daydream, right?

Another Friday evening and busy times indeed here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  In real life, I teach writing (what we used to call English Composition) and various related subjects at a small liberal arts college here in the midst of the American Midwest.  Midterm is fast approaching (believe it, or not), and there has not been a lot of time to share photos of my various get-ups this week, or write and upload another lengthy manifesto like the last one about sending the wrong social signals with various unconscious (and rude) personal habits.  Too many student papers to read and grade along with the usual daily reading/review, other course preparation, and/or professional commitments.  It drives me crazy when real life intervenes so much into evenings and weekends at home, but there you are.  Nevertheless, I though I'd direct your attention to a few interesting things this evening.

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First off, there is a recent interesting short piece featured in The Atlantic online the twilight of the suit and nostalgia (featuring actor Colin Firth).  The article is not written all that well, and I don't agree with all of the author's points and pronouncements necessarily, but the piece is still somewhat interesting for those of us, relatively few in number, who care what we look like privately and in public. . .  and actually enjoy wearing suits.  Yes.  I know.  Guilty as charged, so send me to Coventry.  In the meantime, give the article a quick once over, and see what you think.

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Along similar lines, I ran across the following on one of the men's style blogs or websites I read routinely.  Tweedland I think.  If you need a bigger fix of classic male style how-to than you get here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style -- you know, without all of that irritating and unreasonable stuff about improving our table manners and practicing more pleasant personal habits -- then check out How to Dress: A Guide for The Modern Gentleman with Gustav Temple.  Mr. Temple has been the editor of The Chap magazine since 1999, so some of the information presented in the four-part video course might seem straight out of a P.G. Wodehouse Bertie Wooster and Jeeves story set during the 1920s or 30s.  I am, however, reasonably certain there is much sound and still relevant information to be had that the more polished and cultivated average guys among us might apply to our own everyday style.

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One of the young men in my 10am class this morning turned up looking rather natty.  Imagine that.  Probably a presentation in a Business or Accounting class, for which he was required to dress professionally, later in the day.  Or maybe a fraternity event?  Can't be any other reasons in my experience.  Anyway, he was freshly shaved with combed and parted hair.  He wore a light blue oxford cloth button-down collar shirt neatly tucked in, maroon necktie, dark tan chinos, black belt, charcoal socks, and (sadly) some of those awful squarish-toed comfort sole things in black that masquerade as dress shoes for so many men in 2015.  

Still, the student in question looked reasonably pulled together and better than any other young man (and most male faculty members) I encountered today on campus.  He also writes well and makes occasional offhanded and amusing references to The Beats of the 1950s in his essays, so he's all right in my book, and I applaud his sartorial efforts whatever the reason behind them might have been.  

What was missing from his ensemble, though, was some kind of sports jacket or blazer.  Too bad, because our young friend looked pulled together otherwise.  So, remember guys.  Don't neglect to add a sports jacket or a blazer when you put on dressier (creased) pants, shirt, and a necktie.  You risk looking like a male clerk at Best Buy or Family Video, or a greeter at The Olive Garden otherwise.  Moral of the story?  If you're going to attempt dressing better than the sloppy herd, and you are not choosing a suit for the day, make sure that your overall look is complete.  It's analogous to leaving things not quite finished in the boudoir if you take my meaning.

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Finally, socks.  I am a fan of them and probably have too many at this point.  Certainly, when everything is washed, and pairs have been balled up and put away in my sock drawer, it is jammed absolutely full.  That happens most often in the summer months when I am free from school, at home most of the time, and go without socks beneath my penny loafers or dock-siders.  Between late August and Mid-may each year, however, a third of my socks are typically in the laundry basket, others are hanging on the drying rack in the basement laundry room, with the final third waiting in said sock drawer.

While so called bright and fancy 'statement socks' are currently very popular, and I have my fair share of these, it occurs to me that average guys working to kick up their everyday style would do well to have several pairs of rather more subdued over-the-calf dress socks in their weekly sock rotation.  Here, I prefer colors like navy, charcoal, dark green, and maroon, which I wear regularly with suits and flannel odd pants-sports jacket combinations.  


A selection of my own wool and cotton dress socks, both the loud and the more sedate.  The latter, navy and charcoal in the middle row, are the more versatile of the two thanks to their simplicity.


It is all too easy to get carried away with wilder socks though.  And on those days when you've got a lot of color and/or patterns happening elsewhere on your body -- between your shirt, necktie, and jacket, or perhaps also a pocket handkerchief -- it's best to resist going overboard.  I know, I know.  I like wild socks too, but if you go too crazy with colors and patterns from head to toe, you stray into that dreaded and tasteless Herb Tarlek/Ted Knight territory of the 1970s.  And that's not quite the effect we're after.  


When laundering your socks, avoid using a dryer if at all possible, which will shrink your socks and kill the elastic in them before long, turning your over-the-calf socks into crew length at best in fairly short order.  Instead, air dry your socks using a wooden or vinyl covered metal drying rack.  A little more time and labor intensive, sure, but well worth the extra effort since it extends the life of your dress, leisure, and athletic footwear by no small measure.


Far better most of the time to steer clear of the Rodney Dangerfield in Caddy Shack aesthetic, then, where your socks are concerned.  A good rule of thumb is to keep the rest of your garments fairly restrained and sedate for those days when you feel like wild and crazy statement socks.  Otherwise, navy and charcoal socks (should) reign supreme.  Both colors are extremely versatile thanks to their simplicity, so it's almost impossible to run into sartorial trouble when combining them with other items.  I humbly suggest, therefore, that you have more navy and charcoal pairs of over-the-calf dress socks than anything else in your top drawer.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, February 14, 2015

17 Ways to Send the Wrong Signals. . .


Hopefully, the average guys visiting this blog aspire to something more than simply having all the mod cons and gadgets at their finger tips.

If you want to come across to others as a cultivated and polished man of the 21st century, be aware of some unconscious ways that many average guys might, just might leave the wrong impression in their wake during their social interactions.  

All of the points raised below used to be things that mothers and fathers coached and advised boys and young men against at one time in the not too distant past.  Sadly, that appears no longer to be the case across broad swaths of society if you spend anytime at all in public spaces with your eyes and ears open.  

What follows, then, are a number of common ways that too many boys and men unconsciously send the wrong signals about their upbringing and the kind of person they are beneath their overpriced athletic wear and ostentatious bling.  Naturally, an average guy concerned with kicking up his everyday style -- style in the broadest sense -- several notches would do well to eradicate the following habits from his daily behavior.


1) Sitting Down to a Meal -- any meal -- without a Napkin in Your Lap
Well, what can I say?  You either wipe you mouth delicately and discretely on your napkin when necessary during the meal, or you use the back of your arm or hand.  I notice an awful lot of the latter on campus and in public these days.  Is that really how you want to come across whether you have been invited to a sit-down meal, or you're scarfing down a couple of Chicago-style chili dogs at Boo-Boo's Dawghouse or Windy City Wieners?  Well?  Is it?

2) Blowing Your Nose into Your Napkin
Or wiping your nose with it frankly.  Yes.  I've bored readers with this point before here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style before, I know, but you just don't do this if you aspire to be a man with some polish, grooming, and sophistication.  You don't blow your nose within earshot of others at all, much less at the table before, during, or after a meal.  Excuse yourself, and go somewhere private to attend to the problem.  And no.  Table napkins are not intended as facial tissues either, ok Jimmy Durante?

3) Handling Your Cutlery Like a Plastic Beach Shovel.
If he has resolved to kick up his everyday style several notches, one area where an average guy might need some work concerns handling his cutlery at the table during mealtimes.  Now, while there are at least two different ways of doing so, the Continental and the American methods, neither of which I'll go into here (See what Emily and Peter Post advise on the matter), one thing you don't want to do is hold your eating utensils like they are plastic beach shovels or garden trowels.  Neither do you want to gesticulate in the air with them at your fellow diners on those rare occasions when you mouth is empty, and you ask about another helping of grub from the communal trough.

4) Chewing Gum
Or cracking/popping it too for that matter.  My maternal grandmother, who had a bearing not unlike Dame Maggie Smith's character in the currently popular series Downton Abbey, once advised something akin to the following.  Chewing/bubble gum is a nasty habit that makes you look tacky and cheap.  If you absolutely must chew it, go to your room and close the door.  Barring that, keep it in your mouth and quiet.  Nuff' said Bazooka Joe?

5) Chewing Tobacco/Dipping Snuff
Um. . .  Ick!  Just ick.  It causes mouth and tongue cancers too besides being a simply foul activity.  And it also makes your teeth look grungy.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

6) Burping/Passing Gas in Public
Here's another point that I've mentioned quite a few times before in various posts, but it's one that now seems to be so common among the people, that I'll bang the gong once again.  This particular behavior is about as crass and uncouth  as you can get.  Make the effort to control your body and simply don't burp or pass gas around others.  If it happens inadvertently, excuse yourself quietly, and don't let it happen again.  And if it truly is that much trouble for you to master control over either end of your alimentary system, see your doctor, or purchase some kind of over-the-counter remedy for the problem.  You aren't 7 years old anymore, and you certainly don't want to be seen as that poor slob who just lets it out whenever and wherever.  People used to be embarrassed by belching and flatulence.  What the hell has happened to us as a society?

7) Constantly Touching or Picking at Your Face/Nose/Ears/Body in Public
Eeeeew!  And we can include digging in your ears with a finger here too.  In short, don't do it.  This is one more area where, if there is a problem, you should excuse yourself without fanfare and retire to the men's room when you are out, or the bathroom if at home, where you can take care of the problem in private.

8) Poor Eye Contact during Introductions and Conversations
A cardinal rule of social interaction. . .  So, it is truly amazing the number of people who don't seem to know any better.  Look at the people to whom you are being introduced or speaking.  Not only is it polite, but doing so also helps establish rapport and makes a person come across as more trustworthy and just plain likeable.

9) Wearing Your Ski Cap/Beanie, Ball Cap, or Hat Inside 
Of course, times and society have changed since men commonly wore hats.  Regardless of whether their use fell by the wayside thanks to the election and popularity if John F. Kennedy, the arrival of The Beatles, or the hirsute late 1960s-early 1970s, it is still polite to remove your headwear when you enter a building, or sit down to a meal.  We aren't talking about religious practices either, so unless you find yourself in a synagogue or mosque, attending a service, when some kind of head-covering is generally preferred, get that eff-ing ski cap or backwards baseball cap off your head before you sit down to the table for a meal!  Or in the classroom while we're at it. 

10) Dropping the F-Bomb or Other Common Obscenities
Tacky, tacky, tacky!  Contrary to what many might think, even many overly educated, middle-aged adults in my experience, turning the air blue with obscenities during either social, or professional gatherings is not cool.  It simply succeeds in making you look like an idiot without much of any consequence to say.  And, believe it, or not, there are quite a few people around who continue to find this habit offensive and uncomfortable.  It's far better to control yourself and simply stop talking like the proverbial sailor.

11) A Habitually Loud Voice
Turn it down a few notches unless you are trying to make yourself heard from the front of a large room full of people, or in a sports stadium filled to capacity.  "Keep you voice down!" as my mother used to intone.

12) Biting/Picking at Fingernails and Cuticles
Like your shoes, eyes, and face, your hands and nails are another area that people notice.  It's time to become master of your domain, if you have not done so already, and stop any biting and picking here.  Not only should your hands and nails be clean, but the latter should be clipped, any rough edges filed away with ragged cuticles clipped or pushed back, using something like an orange stick sold at the drugstore or pharmacy (with the hand and footcare products), once a week.

13) Blowing Your Nose Loudly in a Public Space 
Really just a reiteration of point #2 above.  Suffice to say, this is a jarring, ugly noise under the beast of circumstances, so why treat others to it, or give at least some of your 'audience" any reason to question your upbringing?

14) Constantly Playing with and/or Checking Your Cell Phone.
Got an important conference later this afternoon with representatives from the G20 countries?  I didn't think so.  This particular habit has become epidemic in recent years, and there is simply no excuse for it.  None whatsoever.  It is just rude, rude, rude.  And very few of us are that important, or so vital to the daily running of the world that we can't turn the damn thing off and leave it alone for a few hours when we interact with other people.  Doing so is almost as rude as, say, Items #4 or #6 above for example.

15) Cracking/Popping Your Knuckles/Neck/Back/Etc. 
Unless you are Bruce Lee getting ready to go head to head with Chuck Norris, quit it!  Ok?  It's crass, coarse, gross, and just plain undignified.  Got it?

16) Working a Toothpick or Wooden Match in the Corner of Your Mouth.
Unless you are playing actor Taurean Blacque's character Detective Neal Washington on a Hill Street Blues reboot, you don't really want to be the guy with a toothpick or match stuck constantly in the corner of his mouth.  It just ain't the way to come across as an urbane sophisticate.

17) "Fixing" Yourself
Or a wedgie.  And it's not just professional baseball players either.  I've mentioned this point previously and elsewhere here at The Average Guys Guide to Classic Style, but this too seems to be another problem that has reached epidemic proportions among the general public.  Don't think so?  Look around any shopping mall or other crowded public space, and I guarantee it will not take five minutes before your notice some goofus mindlessly and without a care playing with his private parts or posterior.  It's like watching Rhesus Monkeys at the zoo only with hooded sweatshirts, cars, and disposable income for God's sake.  See point #7 above, please.  Basically, it's the same thing here.  Stop touching, picking, and yanking at your body in public.  Unless you take pride in remaining a Neanderthal, then by all means continue.  Let me assure you, however, that the rest of us really don't want to be privy to your ablutions and adjustments.  Know what I mean, Korg?  It's not 70,000 B.C. anymore either, so you need to move beyond that fascination with your nether regions.


There we are.  Without a doubt, there are additional and related points I have neglected to mention here -- If I think of more, I'll add them to this particular post. -- and some of them are favorite whipping boys at this point, I'll admit.  However, that does not mean that these reminders are, or have been rendered unnecessary.  

Indeed, with the apparent and marked coarsening of society over at least the last 40 years at least, I would say that there ought to be a two-semester sequence of compulsory general education courses on personal conduct and etiquette for young men (and their female counterparts, many of whom are just as clueless) on most college and university campuses these days.  I know, I know. . .  Fat chance that will ever happen.  The genie is out of the bottle on this, and has been for a long time now.  


 Some of you, and this is going back quite a way, might remember the old Goofus and Gallant cartoons from Highlights Magazine, a monthly publication for children in roughly Kindergarten through 
Grade 3 or 4, which is apparently still in publication.

Hence, The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  Remember, style is about so much more than our clothing and shoes.  I maintain that our behavior and conduct are actually more important determinants when it comes to personal style -- or the lack thereof -- than whether a guy is an adherent to the Ivy/Trad/Preppy triumvirate, Continetal, or British style.  And if even one average guy, at any age, becomes more personally aware and takes steps to smarten up his everyday appearance and behavior after reading about the various things under discussion here, then our efforts have not been in vain.  So, the only remaining question to pose is this one.  Are you a Goofus, or a Gallant?

-- Heinz-Ulrich (aka Grandma)