A very stylish young Michael Caine clowns around with Giovanna Ralli.
As average guys who want to kick up our everyday style several notches, we need to survey the sad "style" landscape of which we are a part in 2014, quietly recognize certain things, and make the conscious decision to change ourselves. To begin with, and as I have indicated numerous times here on the Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style, recognize that Style (with a capital "S") involves much more than simply clothes, accessories, and shoes. It also involves habits, manners, speech, and attitudes. How we conduct ourselves in other words. A guy can have all the money in the world and a room full of stylish clothes, shoes, and all the rest, but if he behaves, to put it delicately, like a compete swine in his personal and professional interactions. . . Well, he isn't that pleasant to be around for long, is he? We can hardly consider him Stylish since expensive clothes do not distract people from other unpleasant characteristics and tendencies for long.
Second, average guys need to become aware of and recognize that there is a different way of being and presenting themselves to the world -- besides the most comfortable, the easiest, the least confining, the cheapest, the most conformist -- where clothes and behavior are concerned. We must realize that it is perfectly acceptable to be be upwardly mobile in our personal standards of dress and behavior. I'd even argue that it's preferable to the alternative, which is all around us now. No need to go into it here, but spend any time at all in most public forums these days -- airports, public transport, malls, most restaurants, etc. -- and you'll unfortunately witness all kinds of less than savory behaviors. . . in addition to countless walking sartorial disasters.
Third, when we average guys work to polish our appearance, habits, and actions (both privately AND publicly) -- and, hopefully, project an image of good grooming, gentility, and sophistication in the process -- we should also recognize that some people (friends, family, complete strangers) won't be happy about it. They might might rib us in a friendly enough way, toss out the occasional sarcastic remark or observation, or even be nasty about our attempts to improve ourselves. So, we need to hold our heads up and not let it bother us. We've got to develop the confidence (and thick skin) to recognize that what we are doing is a good thing and necessary. Elevating personal standards, rising above the lowest common denominators of weak or non-existent manners and sloppy dress, and forging one's own way is certainly preferable to remaining within and blending into the slovenly 0f-the-people herd that holds sway most places now.
It is worth noting that leaving the house with a pulled together look and behaving pleasantly is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, though I fear many would have us think otherwise. Sadly, moving through life looking and behaving like a slob seems to be a byproduct of the various social changes in The West that have occurred during the last half-century or so. While much of that was, perhaps, long overdue and necessary, high standards of personal behavior and appearance somehow got mixed up with and tossed out in the resulting purge as our society has rushed toward greater egalitarianism and democratization. Too bad that dressing well and behaving politely have been casualties of this gradual social revolution and now seem to be distinct liabilities in many places and situations.
Regardless of the precise socioeconomic reasons behind this particular situation, however, I do not advocate that average guys become loud, obnoxious, affected show-offs and gaudy dandies in their attire, speech, and manners. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I do suggest is that we realize the very real need to take control of our situation. We got ourselves into this mess, and we can get ourselves out again. We simply need to develop the quiet, low key confidence to care about our appearance and behavior once again, learn what works, and what does not. By the same token, let's relearn, if necessary, what is preferable where decent, everyday basic manners are concerned as well as what is unacceptable. Finally, let's make the effort to remember everything and put it into practice. Consistently and without fail.
Ideally, we must strive to have greater respect for ourselves and show greater consideration for those around us. We must also acquire and demonstrate a certain reserved elegance in everything we wear and do. It is time to recognize and acknowledge that doing so is acceptable, worthy, and within our reach, men. Now, how about it?