Some may scoff, but the family depicted in this 60+ year-old photograph looks extremely pleasant. Don't we want others to think something similar about us?
In many online discussion forums, some of which do not necessarily concern clothing, there are a lot people who view manners and dressing decently as somehow false, stiff, and unnecessary. What a sad state of affairs that is. How can basic polite behavior and consideration for those around us be bad things?
The truth is that there is nothing at all fake about coming across as a nice and agreeable individual, whether at work, at a ball game with friends, or enjoying a glass of lemonade with the family on the back porch. As average guys, let's strive for better standards in our personal interaction with others -- including our behavior at the table -- and the way we dress. It's just the right thing to do.
If we make an effort to remember and practice the things our families hopefully taught us*, good manners and proper decorum will not come across as insincere and forced. They will, instead be what they should. Natural, easy, and comfortable. Like a well worn-in pair of loafers. You don't even have to think about them, but they are there. You wear 'em all the time without a second thought. They're just part of the scenery.
Making a good impression with people -- friends of long standing and new acquaintances both -- is not about tacky and ostentatious displays, obnoxious bragging, or making others feel bad about themselves. Demonstrating a certain level of basic respect for people, occasions, and settings is, however, vital when it comes to leaving a favorable impression with those we meet. Even if you're knocking back a few cold ones at the campsite with your old college buddies after a day of fishing on the lake.
Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion by Alan Flusser (2002)
Clothes and the Man: Principles of Fine Men's Dress by Alan Flusser (1985)
Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why by Peter Post 2nd Ed. (2012)
Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by Berhard Roetzel (2012)
NOTE! -- There are many, many books available on dressing and conducting oneself like an adult with some grooming and sophistication. These four titles, besides presenting their subject matter in engaging and interesting ways, offer insight into the basics and more advanced concepts of clothing and good manners. All are excellent references to have on the bookshelf in the living room or the bedside table for easy referral.