The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. 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. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Stylish Residence, Part II. . .

It can be done.  A stylish, masculine apartment space with nary a large flatscreen TV or sports memorabilia in sight.

Several additional points have come to mind during the last couple of days, which might also useful for average guys as they kick up their everyday style in the home several notches.  Here they are:


1) Consider Colors, Patterns, and Textures.
In much the same way as developing a wardrobe, you need to think about this and develop a plan or scheme.  Don't be afraid to consult a few books on the subject of interior design for help.  It's not that difficult if you keep things subtle, and it's also kind of interesting at the same time. Keep in mind, however, that like wardrobe development, getting your place just like you want it will take some time and effort.  Unless you are independently wealthy, it won't happen overnight, but think of the satisfaction you'll feel as each little bit is completed and put into place.  That runs completely counter to our current culture of instant gratification, I freely admit, but instant gratification (like fashion) is fleeting, disposable, and usually lacks any personality whatsoever.  That's not really you, is it?


2) Give Thought to the Color of Your Walls.
You certainly don't all four walls and the ceiling of a room in a really dark color unless the space is larger than normal.  And the concept of an accent wall is not everyone's cup of tea.  But let's steer clear of browns and tans too, which are overdone.  If you want to change the color of a room, or you need to repaint, don't feel bound to bone white everywhere.  Consider, for example, a very pale muted green or a light eggshell, both of which provide visual interest without straying too far from classic style.


3) Fix Cracks and Holes with Spackle/Filler Compound.
Occasionally, you'll need to cover cracks and fix holes in your walls to keep things looking nice.  If you lack a handyman to do this kind of thing for you, buy a book on simple home repairs and maintenance and read through it.  Then, get yourself a small container of spackle/filler paste and a flexible putty knife.  It usually takes two or three applications to fix deeper cracks and holes.  Once the compound is dry though, touch up the paintwork as soon as possible and keep in mind that the paint counters in many big box stores can match paint colors quite well now if you take a flake of the old plaster in with you.  I've been surprised by how well this has worked in our own home.


4) Use Screws and Mollies to Hang Pictures. . .  NOT a Hammer and Nails.
It seems so easy to fetch your hammer, pound a nail into to wall, and hang your picture, right?  Wrong.  For one, if your walls are actually old plaster walls, and you misjudge, you've got cracks and/or holes that will be hard to fix correctly.  Just try to find a living plasterer most places.  And let me know when you do.  It's not easy in 2014.  Plastering walls and ceilings is a dying (or already dead) art.  And if you walls are wallboard, it's still all too easy to pound an ugly dent or hole into your wall, which will need to be patched, if you misjudge with the hammer.  It's far better to drill a hole with a masonry bit, tap in the correct size of plastic molly, and then drive in a small screw, taking care to leave just enough of the head exposed on which to hand you curtain rod brackets or your pictures and prints.  Any good do-it-yourself book will have a section on how to do all of this in more detail.  Do yourself a favor and read it closely before plunging in up to your chest.  You'll thank yourself later.


5) Buy a Small Power Drill and Set of Screw Drivers
Instead of relying on the dreaded hammer and nails to hang your pictures, curtains, and other wall or window treatments, visit the hardware of big box store, and purchase a small electric drill with assorted bits and a set of screwdrivers.  A battery powered stud finder might be useful too.


6) Consider Area Rugs.
Even when you've got wall-to-wall carpeting, a few carefully chosen area rugs  can help add personality to the various rooms or areas of your dwelling.  That's also true if you have wooden floors, which can look great, but totally bare floors risk looking cold and sterile, and they do nothing to curb noise.  So, define the various rooms or areas of your dwelling with area rugs of various sizes.  A place like the ubiquitous IKEA is an ideal place to find these at reasonable prices and with various designs or patterns.  You might also have luck at a furniture consignment shop or a thrift/charity establishment.  


7) Add a Few Throw Pillows Here and There.
Likewise, a few carefully chosen and colorful throw pillows in various shapes in the corners of a chair or two, or perhaps on your sofa, are another way to add visual interest and personality to a room.


8) Line Your Bookshelves with (Surprise!) Books.
Whether you are lucky enough to have a room with built-in bookshelves, or you need to purchase and assemble some of your own, another way to impart personality and identity to a living area or bedroom is to display those books.  Hopefully, you've got a few titles about things other than Bruce Lee or the heyday of Welsh Rugby in the 1970s to display.


9) Acquire a Few Interesting Display Pieces.
A few carefully chosen display pieces give your home an interesting appearance and might be a fantastic way for you to leave your own imprint on the various rooms or areas within your dwelling.  I'm not thinking about pictures so much here as about things like interesting items from your travels, brass, pewter, or ceramic pieces, or perhaps one or two African, Asian, Indonesian, or Latin American handicrafts.  But not those gaudy, over-sized  sombreros sold in airports and along the Mexican-U.S. border however!  So, keep the following in mind. . . 


10) Exercise Restraint.
It's all too easy to go overboard with souvenir knick-knacks and display pieces, so resist the temptation to acquire and display too much of this stuff.  Tasteful elegance rather than tacky clutter is the look your are aiming for when giving your residence a stylish, adult makeover.


11) Fix Your Lampshades and Blinds.
Once in a while the shades on your table and floor lamps need to be straightened.  Take a quick glance around your living space a couple of times a month or so and do this as and when needed.  Oh.  And lampshade seams should not be visible.  Turn that side of your shades to the wall if at all possible.  By the way.  If you are one to actually raise your miniblinds, rather than adjust the louvers to allow in light, then make sure not to do it crookedly.  Nothing looks worse from the outside or inside than blinds or shades with one side higher than the other. . .  Unless you are actually after The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari look.


12) Once You Hang those Pictures. . .
Likewise, these might need to be straightened once in a while.  Buildings and houses vibrate and settle according to age and environment.  That means that pictures occasionally and inexplicably will end up slightly out of kilter on your walls.  Like straight lampshades, straightened picture frames are one of those little details that many people fail to notice, but fixing things when they need it will make a room or area in your home look a lot better with almost no time or effort expended.


13) Use Dark Extension Cords.
Another tiny detail that lots of people forget about concerns the color of any necessary extension cords.  If you must run extension cords between lamps and appliances to wall outlets, use dark extension cords and run them along the baseboards of a room where they are less noticeable.  It might be tempting to disguise cords beneath a rug or carpet, but foot traffic risks eventually wearing away the insulation on the cords, which will pose a very real fire hazard sooner or later.  Be careful!


15) Arrange Furniture to Form Conversation Areas.
Rather than lining up your furniture around the perimeter of your living room or great room, arrange it in smaller, more intimate conversation areas.  These might include a sofa or love seat and an armchair or two grouped around a coffee table, or a couple of armchairs in a corner adjacent to an end table with a handy table or floor lamp for instance.  And of course, area rugs enhance the idea of conversation areas and help better define them.  See Point #6 above.


16) Replace Mismatched Silverware and Broken or Chipped Dishes and Glasses.
Sure.  I understand if you are a young man on your own for the first time.  Your tableware might consist of various old odds and ends from your parents' home that they no longer need and have given to you until you can get on your feet.  I faced a similar situation in my first apartment at 21.  There comes a time though, hopefully not too many months later, when you should have a matching set of silverware and serving utensils as well as plates, glasses, cups, and saucers.  For yourself even if you rarely have guests.  It's time to get used to eating and drinking from stuff without any chips and cracks.  Know what I mean?


17) Filter out Mismatched Bedsheets and Towels.
By the same token, get yourself a few matching sets of sheets and pillowcases (and bath towels) as soon as possible.  Threadbare stuff isn't particularly nice to sleep on of dab water from your body after a bath or shower.  And you haven't been five for years, so it's high time to replace those Thomas the Tank Engine and Power Ranger bed and bath items.  Why?  Well, you're an adult male now, and hopefully you've started to acquire at least a little adult taste and style by this point.  Besides, if and when you ever bring that special someone home to spend the night, what might go through his or her mind if you've still got those thin, dingy, visibly worn Transformers sheets from childhood still on your bed?  You get my drift?


18) Keep the Bathroom Countertop and Corners of the Tub Clear.
Keep these free of clutter by putting things away, depending on their size, in the medicine cabinet behind the mirror, the cabinets below the sink, or the bottom shelves inside the linen closet.  Easy, right?  And you don't really need those half-a-dozen bottles or so of Axe shampoo and body wash, with only a centimeter or so left in the bottoms, taking up space, do you?  So, either consolidate what's leftover into a single container, or throw that crap away.  Your bathroom will look better instantly.


19) Take Control of Your Old Magazines and Newspapers.
Of course, more and more of this stuff is becoming digital, which does not necessarily present the same kind of storage and clutter problems.  At least not in the physical world.  But if you one of the many guys who still read and accumulate actual magazines and newspapers, you'll need to sort through these occasionally, maybe once a week, and get rid of what you don't want to keep forever .  That means either putting in your own recycling bin, or bundling up the stuff with wine and taking it to a recycling center.  You don't want to be the kind of person who has to create paths in his place to move around piles of years old magazines and newspapers, right?  Yes, I actually know someone like this, and besides being an uninviting place to visit in the extreme, it's a firetrap.  You don't want to go there, so stay on top of this semi-regular task. 


20) What about Those Vacation Souvenirs Family and Friends Keep Bringing to You?
That tacky stuff from your Aunt Gerda's latest trip to Las Vegas, Honolulu, or Cozumel?  Sometimes it's better to say "Thank you" and the put these away at the first available opportunity, or otherwise divest yourself of them.  Let's be honest about a couple of things here.  First of all, people have different tastes. . .  and lots of people have bad taste.  There.  I've said it.  And good taste is not as subjective as many want to believe either.  Hopefully your taste has gone beyond things like miniature diecast metal NASCAR toys, commemorative shot glasses, and Madame Alexander dolls by now.  Second, many people give no thought to how something they spot in an airport giftshop at the last minute might or might not go with someone else's decor.  Be gracious when you receive such items, of course, but in no way feel pressured into displaying them prominently in your own home if you would rather not.  Garage sales and Ebay are very handy in such situations.  Don't, whatever you do, cart things you don't like around with you for 30 years as you go through life.  Periodically, superfluous and/or unwanted items should be culled from your home and life.


There.  That really should do it for now.  Follow these 20 tips, along with the previous 20, and you should be able to assemble and maintain a neat, very stylish living space that's worthy of an adult male with some grooming and sophistication.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Fun with Patterned Socks. . .

Yesterday evening's bottom half, featuring the new, pre-production Dapper Classics cream and brown herringbone socks, which I think are Merino wool from their feel. . .  along with khakis and Allen Edmonds loafers.  The top half featured a navy blue blazer and muted plaid sports shirt with a button-down collar.  No necktie last night, but I did stuff a very pretty silver and gray paisley Italian silk pocket square into the blazer pocket before heading out the door.

The regular academic year is over, however there is still occasion for another three weeks to dress up (sort of) on Tuesday evenings for a community education film course I'm leading on the Film Noir genre of the 1940s-1950s.  A perfect opportunity last night to have a little fun with the new socks you see above that were a bonus item sent to me by the people at Dapper Classics along with a couple of pairs I purchased on sale the other day. 

Dapper Classics offer all kinds of snazzy, well-made dress socks in patterns and more traditional solid colors.  The socks come in mid-calf and knee-lengths, and they are priced at US$20-$24 per pair.  In addition, they are available in mercerized cotton or Merino wool, depending on the model, and, best of all, they stay up all day.  Perfect for the guy who just can't bring himself to wear sock garters!   Plus, the company runs many sales and special promotions, so you can often pick up a good pair of dress socks that will serve you well for around US$10-$12.

In any case, and forgive the shameless plug, I've been extremely pleased with the 8-10 pairs that  I have purchased or been given by my son and wife.  So much so, that I purchase a pair or two whenever Dapper Classics runs a promotion, which is fairly often.  You can find and like DC on Facebook to keep up with them.  Who says your sock drawer must contain only charcoal, navy, dark brown dress socks. . .  or (shudder) the white athletic variety?

On other fronts, stay tuned for a second installment of 'A Stylish Residence,' which will continue my commentary and observations from the other day on how average guys might kick up the everyday style of their living spaces and keep them spic & span.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Stylish Residence. . . .

A great shot of the entry hall of James Bond's flat in Dr. No (1962), or perhaps from Russia with Love (1963).  Tasteful, elegant, and masculine. . .  mercifully without items like sports team posters and shot glasses cluttering every wall or table surface.

Average guys who realize the need for kicking up their everyday style several notches would do well to consider all areas of their lives and work.  Ultimately, we are striving for greater polish and sophistication in how we come across to others than seems to be the rule in most settings and situations in 2014.  You don't have to look far to notice grown men -- still boys, really -- looking and acting like inconsiderate cretins without a care in world about how they appear to the rest of the world.  

The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style set out in June of 2012 to draw people's attention to the fact that life in the 21st century does not have to be this way.  In the last couple of years, I've discussed at great length clothing, accessories, shoes, and/or how the man with classic style conducts himself. . .  privately and in the company of others.   There is another area, however, that has escaped my attention thus far.  It's high time to rectify that oversight.  

So today, our discussion will focus on how the stylish man lives.  We'll look, therefore, at his abode.  His living space in other words.  For average guys working to kick up their everyday style several notches, there are a number of things to consider (and habits to form) when it comes to your apartment, flat, or house.  In no particular order, these points include the following:


1) Reduce Clutter and Keep Things Straight.
This is usually the hallmark problem of most guys who live on their own or in groups, although there seem to be plenty of women and also couples who exist in clutter and disarray from what I've witnessed in many homes.  Stupid jokes about obsessive-compulsive disorder aside, keeping things picked up and put away, accomplishes several things.  One, you'll simply feel better and enjoy being in your home more.  Imagine how your mood differs when you enter a reasonably neat, clutter-free living room versus opening the front door to be met with a veritable rat's nest of mail, magazines, old newspapers, discarded clothes, and shoes everywhere along with a few pizza boxes and empty beer bottles for good measure.  Anyone who says they don't notice, and it does not matter is lying to save face.  Two, you'll never feel embarrassed by the sad state of your living space.  Finally, when you cultivate the habit of putting things away, it takes no time at all to pick up your place simply because there will be much less tidying to do.


2) Hide Power Cords, Stereo Speaker Wires, and Computer Cables.
This is a biggy even if you are a fairly neat person to begin with.  And the digital age has not helped matters the last 20+ years or so.  Suffice to say, you can have the coolest place in the world, but a tangled morass of cords, cables, and wires  in full view beneath a desk or table, or peeking our from a corner somewhere, will spoil the overall effect but fast.  Newsflash!  You are not living in a college dorm room anymore, so make some effort to coil, consolidate, and hide all of those cords, wires, and cables.  It will look a lot better instantly and be much safer too.


3) Get a Few Pairs of Matching Table Lamps with Decent Looking Shades.
Ditch the cheap torchiere lamp stuck in a corner somewhere.  Place several different light sources, at various levels, around each room on end tables or side tables instead.  Nothing works better for providing warm, inviting illumination than table lamps of one kind or another.  It's time to stop living your entire life under a single, glaring light source in the center of the ceiling.  You're not living in a spartan Moscow factory worker's apartment in 1925, ok?  Lighting also affects one's mood, so it makes good sense to ensure that the illumination in your living space is not only functional but pleasant.  Artificial light that emanates from a single source high overhead is anything but.


4) Hang Pictures in Actual Frames.
Another marker of an adult living space involves pictures and prints presented well, that is matted and in frames with some thought given to how they will look up on the wall.  If it has never occurred to you, it's high time to stop taping posters and photos torn from magazines haphazardly to your walls.  Learn a little something about framing picture and prints and learn how to hang them properly.  Notice that I'm not saying anything about art, although that's fine if you've got the money and taste for it.  I'm simply pointing out that old, dog-eared Judas Priest posters, Penthouse centerfolds, or Friday the 13th posters have no place taped to the wall if you are a post-college aged adult.  It's time to become a bit more, um, sophisticated in your wall treatments and how best to present and display them.


5) Keep the Kitchen Spotless.
Too often, this is another place where average guys drop the ball.  And maybe that's because too many parents have done too much for their children in recent decades without instilling self-discipline?  In any case, your life will become a lot more pleasant, and -- Dare I say? -- stylish if you do your utmost to keep the kitchen straight and clean.  That means wash your dishes by hand, or rinse and load 'em into the dishwasher without fail as soon after a meal as possible.  It's also a good idea to keep the stovetop clear and avoid leaving filthy pots and pans on it, or using it as an extension of your counter space, which potentially could be dangerous.  Keep the the counters wiped off and clear of spills, drips, crumbs, and other debris.  Finally, keep the refrigerator and microwave oven clean and wiped down inside.  Throw away old, smelly stuff and be sure to wipe up any drips or spills before they congeal and dry, which makes it much harder to clean later.  If you simply do these things as you move about the kitchen, things come under control very quickly, and it takes no time at all.  Cleaning up after yourself, and making that a habit, is the key.


6) Hide the TV.
Lots of average guys seem to arrange the living room around the television or -- shudder -- the entertainment center.  This always looks, like, well, someone has given an 18-year-old the money and turned him loose to fix up the basement rec room in a way that most teenage boys think is cool.  But, that's not really what you -- a guy working hard to kick up his everyday style several notches -- want as an adult after high school or college.  So, what am I saying specifically?  Listen up.  Don't make that huge, ugly flatscreen TV with its theater speaker system the centerpiece and focus of your living room.  Are you living in a sports bar?  It's far better to arrange the room in such a way that: 1) not every single seat in the room faces the television, and 2) you are able to hide or disguise it somehow.  Here, I'd suggest buying a smaller TV to begin with, so that the cabinet it resides within is not so huge that it dominates the room.  Know what I mean?


7) Get Some Decent Furniture.
Strive for an eclectic look.  Don't bother with matched sets, which lack imagination, and avoid huge, overstuffed modular sofas and/or recliners.  The latter dominate all but the largest rooms and are almost always ugly.  Ditch that cheap, plastic patio furniture that you have used since college while you're at it.  It's time to become a bit more sophisticated in your tastes here too, boys.  Don't have a lot of money to spend?  No matter.  Try furniture consignment and thrift shops and put out your feelers among friends and acquaintances.  You never know.  That cousin of your best friend might be eager to sell you a couch or dining table and chairs, that haven't been beaten to death, relatively cheaply because they need to make room for new furniture themselves.  It helps to keep your eyes and ears open and realize that, like a wardrobe, you also build a collection of decent adult furniture over time.


8) Retire the Sports Memorabilia.
Ok.  We get it.  You just LOVE the Chicago Bears, Manchester United, or some other professional sports team of world renown.  But must every wall and surface of your room/apartment/flat/house be covered in beer mugs, shot glasses, miniature helmets, jerseys, posters, and the like?  Again, it's time to grow up, get some sophistication, and put most of the crap away although getting rid of most of it might be an even better idea.  You're not 12 anymore after all.  And if you live with anyone else, trust me.  He or she will appreciate to no end you sorting, packing up, and clearing out this kind of stuff.  That also goes for all of those trophies from your junior high and high school years.  Hopefully, your self-esteem is more fully formed and stronger by now, so you don't need to prop it up any longer with items like these.  And if you really must ask "Why?", then I'm afraid there is no hope.  The concept of classic style will always elude you.


9) Ditch the Plastic Organizer Thingies.
The number of these plastic sock and magazine organizer thingies that are on full display for all to see in the public areas of many homes is surprising.  Sure.  If you are one of the multitudes who cannot seem to thrown anything away ever, then these are a handy way to store those old newspapers, magazines, and catalogs. . .  to say nothing of those empty two liter soda bottles that will, no doubt, come in handy some day.  But here's a dirty little secret.  Those plastic organizers are not meant to display just anywhere in your apartment, flat, or house.  Ok, maybe by the back door in the kitchen where the recycling accumulates.  But certainly not anywhere else.  You know?  Nope.  Plastic organizers should be relegated to where they belong: out of sight in closets, cabinets, basements, and garages where the doors can be closed.  And speaking of which. . . .


10) Shut the Closets, Kitchen Cupboards, and Dresser Drawers.
Closets, cabinets, and dressers are meant to be kept closed when you are not accessing the items within.  Yet the number of homes where people just leave these open all of the time is astounding.  Keep those doors and drawers closed, people, and then. . .  Crash!  Bang!  Boom!  Shazam!  In the blink of an eye, this very simple step will transform the rooms in your home by hiding the clothes and clutter, making your space will look 100 times better than it does now.  Try it and see if you don't believe me.


11) Put Your Clothes and Outerwear Away.
On a related note, hang up the things you'll wear again before washing or dry-cleaning, or fold and put them away in a drawer as soon as you arrive home and/or remove them from your body.  Dirty clothes like the day's underwear, socks, and t-shirts, or that sweaty bicycling gear, should go directly into the clothes hamper.  Don't deposit this stuff on the floor anywhere, please.  It's not like anyone is asking you to chew off your left hand at the wrist.  Just pick up your things and put them where they belong.  All right?  You're a grown-up now, and grown-ups don't leave a a trail of debris behind themselves.  Even when they live alone.


12) Keep the Bathroom Straight.
That means you keep the tub/shower, sink, and toilet pristine with weekly cleanings, and towels hung neatly on their racks (the tri-fold works wonders).  In addition, let's not pile up reading material all over the floor around the throne.  Why so many people apparently feel the need to read in the bathroom will always be a mystery to me.  Not that it's something I spend time pondering, mind you.  But the question "Why on earth do people do that?" has crossed my mind from once or twice.  In any case, guys, let's stop leaving various old issues of Sports Illustrated, Men's Health, and ten-year-old computer magazines stacked haphazardly on the toilet tank, or piled on the floor nearby.  Why remind guests, or that poor person who lives with you, of how much time you actually spend perched in there?


13) Keep the Noise Down.
Whatever type of dwelling you live in, things run more smoothly when you don't irritate the family members or companions who share the space with you, to say nothing of neighbors above, below, next to, or across the street from you.  You are not living in a nightclub, so keep the music down especially after dark.  Other people need to sleep undisturbed, and they might simply just enjoy their peace and quiet while awake.  So, show them some consideration and be a polite neighbor.  That also goes for your over-amplified TV entertainment system that's hooked up to floor and window-rattling theater speakers as well as raucous parties that regularly last until the wee hours of the morning  Ok?  Your neighbors as well as those who live with you will appreciate it.  You are not the center of the universe, and it's not your God-given right to behave like a rude prick to those around you.  Grow up.


14) Keep Your Shirt On.
It doesn't matter whether you have the physique of a star athlete in his prime, or not.  Unless you're at the beach, gym, or swimming pool, keep a shirt on.  Guys walking around their front yard or hanging over the sides of the front porch or balcony with bare torsos simply look trashy, cheap, and common.  You might not appreciate that particular characterization, but there is simply so other way to put it.  Presenting yourself to the world in such a way does not call to mind adjectives like polished, sophisticated, and urbane.  'Low rent,' however, is a term that does occur.  Readily.  Neither is running around the neighborhood half-dressed the way to attract quality people in any sense or capacity.  Guys, however taut you might like to think your muscles are, let's keep those fuzzy man breasts and that pale belly covered.  Really. 


15) Make Your Bed.
Even if no one else sees your bedroom, it's nice for you to walk into a crisp, pleasant looking space at the end of the day, whether you've had a crummy day at the office, or a fun weekend afternoon tooling around town with that new special someone.  So, make the bed in the morning before you shower and dress.  And learn how to do it correctly.  "Making the bed" is not simply pulling up the covers, tossing them over the pillows, and walking away.  Take the time to learn how to do it and make it look nice.  There are plenty of instructional links on YouTube for instance.  Oh, and keep things picked up and put away in bedroom too.  Even a pile of books on the bedside table (my personal vice) can get out of control fast.  It's also a good idea to return any glasses, cups, or bowls, from any midnight snacks, to the kitchen as soon as possible the next morning after you finish making your bed.


16) What about Your Windows?
Unless you want a stark modern, high tech look, you'll need to give some thought to how you'll treat your windows.  Not only will sheer curtains and blinds soften the appearance of a room, and afford you some privacy from the world outside in the process, but they are also relatively inexpensive ways to dress the windows of virtually any living space.  Moreover, blinds enable you to control easily the amount of light that comes through your windows, depending on the time of day, season, and weather.  Together, sheer curtains and blinds are a good combination.  If you've got the money and inclination, real drapes might also be a great addition to any room, but they can be heavy, and thus overwhelming, in smaller spaces.  Exercise care here before rushing off in that particular direction.


17)  Keep the Daily Mail and Your Papers under Control.
A small basket on the hall table by the front door makes keeping your mail organized extremely easy.  Just be sure to filter through it every few days and throw out the junk while actually keeping and filing the more important items.  A small wicker basket is also an ideal staging area for your keys, iPhone, and anything else that leaves with you in the mornings and returns home in the evenings.  If you live alone, this might also be a great place to drop your wallet or bill clip and pocket knife when you come in although I prefer to keep stuff like that in a small leather tray on top of my dresser upstairs in our room.  On your desk, or in the den, in and out trays as well as folders for paper statements and bills, which you then file in an appropriate bottom desk drawer, will go a long way toward making life calmer and less stressful than might otherwise be the case.  And you've got be able to find all of that stuff if the Internal Revenue Service or the Inland Revenue decide that you've earned that most coveted of prizes. . .  the all-expenses paid tax audit.  Right?


18) Vacuum Your Rugs and Swiffer Bare Floors.
Not much to say here, really, is there?  One thing though.  Do this more than you think you should, and before you think you need to.  In other words, don't wait until you can actually see dustbunnies blowing in the breeze, or until crumbs and old Cheerios stick to your bare feet when you walk around.  If you live alone, maybe once every ten days, or so, should do it.  If you live with roommates, a spouse or special someone, or, indeed, a family, then vacuuming and swiffering more often might be a better idea.  Once again, if you make this part of your semi-weekly routine, it really won't take that much time to do because dirt and dust will have less opportunity to accumulate, meaning the chore is accomplished quickly.


19) Dust Lamps, Tabletops, and Objets d'Art.
Like the point just above, this is something you need to do now and then, but if you stay on top of dusting, it need not take hours.  Especially if you use cleaning products like Lemon Pledge and old, soft t-shirts on wooden surfaces and, perhaps, Swiffer pads on glass, metal, leather, or ceramic surfaces.  And hopefully you will not have gone overboard with the knick-knacks, which can take lots of time to wipe down.  Tennessee Williams never mentioned how Laura kept her glass menagerie dusted, did he?


20) Cultivate a Well-Stocked Bar Table.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that stylish men maintain a small supply of quality liquor and spirits for those times when a stiff drink is just the thing to help you unwind between a trying day and the evening meal.  Everyone has his personal favorites, naturally, though I'd suggest having, at the very least, a good single malt scotch (or a better blend), a bottle of gin with some tonic handy, a decent vodka, and maybe some Irish whisky, bourbon, or rye.  A bottle of brandy or cognac might be a good later addition for special occasions.  In any case, make sure you've got some really nice glasses and mixing accoutrements specifically for the bar table as well as an attractive ice bucket.  A silver, or silver plated, tray on which to place your bottles of liquid goodies makes an eye-catching centerpiece for your bar table.  It's nice to look at even if you don't avail yourself to it that often.


There.  That should give average guys, who might be clueless about where to start with more stylish living at home, a good starting point.  As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.  Just be sure to keep it civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich
 

Mr. Bond arrives home, to discover the fetching Miss Sylvia Trench has let herself in and is practicing her putting clad only in his pajama top.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style Now on Ebay!!!

Another great old Laurence Fellows illustration of menswear from the classic era, the 1930s.

The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style is up and running on Ebay. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People. . .

"Lard Ass" in the Rob Reiner movie Stand by Me (1986) just before all hell breaks loose.  If you've seen the movie, no explanation is required.

Here's another post for average guys that has nothing whatsoever to do with clothing or shoes.  Most of it has been covered in one form or another somewhere on The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style before, but I have witnessed various kinds of social gaffs and no-nos among young people, who are certainly more than old enough to know better, the last several days as the university semester has wound down.  

Now, I don't know what in the hell Mom and Dad taught these kids, but clearly basic levels of politeness are something many parents no longer instill in their offspring, assuming the former are even aware of these concepts themselves.  And I'm well aware that there are many families where unappealing behavior, and joking about it, is common currency, as typical as discussions of politics, movies, or books might be in other households.  It absolutely boggles my mind.  

What I really cannot fathom is that disgusting personal habits, behavior, and equally unpleasant talk about them seem to know no social bounds.  You can't simply blame it on people being underprivileged, uneducated, and/or disadvantaged, to use current parlance.  The small Liberal Arts institution where I work, for instance, isn't exactly cheap.  The 18- to 23-year-olds I teach, and who behave so poorly, come from middle, upper middle, and even upper income homes for the most part.  Obviously, it does not follow that easy access to money and material things equates with having "class." Rather just the opposite from what I cannot help but notice between August and May each academic year.  And offensive behavior isn't the sole preserve of young college "men" either, although they've got that partiuclar market cornered by a little bit.

All of that uncomfortable socioeconomic talk aside, it's probably worth mentioning again certain things that stylish men do not do.  You know.  Just in case there are actually any younger guys reading this blog, who somehow have no clue about how not to behave*.  So, let's get rolling.   Here it is.  If you want to win friends and influence people, be careful to avoid the following unpleasant habits as you work to improve your everyday style:


1) A stylish man does not cough, yawn, or sneeze without covering his mouth.  And he always follows quickly with an "Excuse me, please."

2) Stylish men do not burp out loud.  Rather they do their utmost to suppress the burp and hold it in as quietly as possible.  "Excuse me," might be necessary once in while here, guys.

3) Stylish men do not pass gas in public.  It's just gross.  Get some over the counter medication to help alleviate the problem, or see your doctor.  In the meantime, go to the bathroom to sort things out.  And CLOSE THE DOOR.  Don't be a pig and treat everyone else to your intestinal issues.

4) Stylish men do not chew with their mouths open.  Ever.  Neither do they ignore other basic table manners like keeping napkins in laps, elbows off the table, not talking with your mouth full, and/or not reaching for things.  Period.

5) Stylish men do not swear habitually and loudly in general public conversation.  It's just common and puts off more people than you might realize.  It's also a good idea to keep this kind of thing in check when you're at home too.

6) A stylish man does not pick his nose, dig in his ears, or poke at the yuck in the corners of his eyes.  This is another area where, if there is a problem, you should retire to the privacy of the bathroom to fix it.

7) A stylish man does not honk his nose loudly into a handkerchief or tissue in public, and he certainly does not do so at the table during a meal.  Lots of people apparently see no problem with this, but, again, it's really much nicer for everyone else if you excuse yourself and go somewhere private, if at all possible, to clear your nasal passages. 

8) Stylish men do not urinate publicly in full view of others.  Find a restroom, or a portable toilet for the love of God.  Public parks, parking decks, and people's front yards are not your personal toilet bowl.

9) A stylish man does not clip his finger or toenails in public.  I once heard about a professor doing this in a department meeting where I went to graduate school, although I did not actually witness it.  I was not so fortunate while waiting for a flight at Charles de Gaulle outside Paris several years ago when I noticed a handsomely dressed, 60-something American man clipping his fingernails in the boarding area.  He then brushed the clippings onto the floor as his row was announced.  A thoroughly charming individual.

10) Stylish men do not brush their hair, floss their teeth, or engage in other grooming necessities and rituals beyond the confines of the bathroom at home with the door closed, or the men's room if there is nowhere else.

11) A stylish man does not adjust his privates in the front, or try to fix a wedgie in the back when he is in full view of the general public.  Again, go somewhere private to do this discretely.  Of try a larger size of underwear.

12)  A stylish man does not appear in the morning without washing his face and brushing or combing his hair first.  If you want to lounge around in your pajamas all day, super.  That can be a wonderful way to unwind on the weekends or during holidays. . .  if/when you don't need to leave the house that is.  The late Sir Winston Churchill is supposed to have run the war from his bed on many days, but let's not treat everyone else to the sight of our sleep-filled eyes and corkscrew hair, please.

13) When nature calls, a stylish man  excuses himself without broadcasting the fact that he is off to relieve himself.  And a stylish man never discusses his activities in the bathroom or restroom afterwards.  Other people do not want to know those kinds of details, and should not have to hear about them.  You follow me?  That's about as crass as Point #3 above. 

14) Stylish men , regardless of their age, never forget to use "please" and "thank in any personal or public interaction where these words might be appropriate.  And a stylish guy also knows how to ask for something without relying on the all-too-common "Can I have X?"  or "Give me Y."  If people knew any better, they'd be embarrassed, but I suppose that's expecting too much.


There.  That should do it for now.  Without a doubt, there are other points to keep in mind where personal habits are concerned, but the various reminders mentioned here will go a long way in helping average guys, who want to kick up their everyday style several notches and at the same time avoid obnoxious, irritating, and gross behavior.  Let's not continue acting like cavemen, guys.  It's far better to acquire a bit of gentility and finesse now if you somehow managed to get through childhood and adolescence without certain pleasantries transferred to you through example.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


*That's it!  We need a program on cable TV entitled How Not to Behave.  Kind of like What Not to Wear but less touchy-feely feel-marginally-better-about-yourself-for-two-minutes-and-then-go-back-to-the-way-you-were-before-the-makeover.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Casual Attire for a Sunny Spring Day at Home. . .

Please ignore the skinny, pale legs and concentrate on the shoes themselves!  Up top, I'm wearing tan chino shorts with a navy blue polo top.  A little chilly now, but I'll warm quickly up once the raking starts.

Today is Earth Day, and since classes wrapped up for yours truly yesterday afternoon, I am about to head outside to pick up sticks and rake up any grass thatch, to help along our poor excuse for a lawn.

Until late August, I am realtively free, save for some student term papers to collect later this week, reading through them, and then final course grades to submit after the weekend.  That means, sadly, that dressing up is on hiatus for the next three months.  Sigh.  Yes, there is an article I want to write and possible a translation or two to do, but my wife and I are fortunate enough to be able to do that from the confines of home offices, which means that more casual clothing is the rule until about August 21st or so.

However, that does not mean that one need descend into the depths of Slobdom.  For instance, for those average guys who wondering about how to kick up their warm weather style several notches, I'd suggest three items, which are available at all price points: leather deck shoes, khaki and/or Madras shorts (with either a 6" or 9" inseam), and pique weave, short-sleeved polo shirts in solid colors, though not white for obvious reasons.  It doesn't get any easier than that. And with any luck, you can find a lot of this stuff in good used condition in thrift/charity shops if you don't want to purchase it new.

Now, some might sneer and mutter something about looking like the front of a J. Crew catalog, but ignore them.  I've noticed over many years that people say things like that when they are jealous or allow themselves to feel self-conscious because someone else looks nice.  You'll look good in any case, feel extremely comfortable in all but the hottest weather, and you won't look like an overgrown schoolboy, aping the latest music, movie, or sports star who has adopted some version of "thugwear" as his sad attempt at edgy personal expression.  Yawn. 

If you want to kick up your everyday style several notches and dress like a serious adult male with (legal) things to do, places to go, and people to see, don't go anywhere near that kind of appearance.  Nope.  Far better to keep your warm weather gear simple, comfortable, and classic.  Your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, or partner  will appreciate your efforts to look pulled together during the dog days of August here in the Northern Hemsiphere.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Monday, April 21, 2014

Make It a Double-Breasted Monday!

 The late Duke of Windsor in a double-breasted suit.  The man is still a somewhat problematic figure in British history, but he certainly knew how to dress well (most of the time).

For average guys working to kick up their everyday style several notches, here's a novel suggestion.  Let's rechristen 'Oy Vay Monday' as  'Double-breasted Monday' and leave home in either a double-breasted suit, navy blazer, or sports jacket.  I'll don an Alan Flusser double-breasted sports jacket (midnight navy with a faint mustard windowpane pattern), purchased in a thrift/charity shop two years ago, in a short while myself.

Now, some might sneer, but whether or not the look is deemed currently fashionable, or not, there is no doubt that it is classic and timeless.  And you've got some chutzpah, right?  

A double-breasted jacket also provides a nice change in silhouette from the more typical single-breasted look that reigns in 2014. . .  when men bother to wear suits or jackets at all.  

And if anyone mutters something about dressing like your grandfather, you can simply reply, "Why, yes.  Yes, I do.  Thank you.  My grandfather knew how to present himself well."  That should give 'em something to think about.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


 Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster in a nice looking double-breasted number.  Stephen Fry as Gieves doesn't look too shabby either.


 A younger Prince Charles, looking casual and relaxed in a summer, tan double-breasted suit.


The late Cary Grant, who always looked amazing, in another double-breasted suit.  Peaked lapels come into their own with this kind of suit coat or sports jacket.


A much younger Sir Michael Caine in a more somber double-breasted suit.  I prefer, though, to leave the bottom button on a 6/2 jacket undone for a slightly more nonchalant look.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

'Easter Morning,' painted by Norman Rockwell in 1959.

Happy Easter to those of you who might observe.  

If your Easter Sunday plans included attendance at a church service, I hope you put your best foot forward and dressed up a bit more than has become the sad norm among many church-goers here in the United States.  Sure, it is what's on the inside that counts.  But things like respect for, and an awareness of, special occasions and celebrations, to say nothing of respect for your fellow celebrants, (should) call for a certain amount of decorum, refinement, and polish in our attire and behavior.  

But is it really necessary to say that?  Clearly, for many it is.  After all, you're not simply hopping in the car to pick up a half-gallon or liter of milk before lunch on a Saturday morning.  Attending a religious service, dinner at someone's home, or a special event beyond the confines of your own TV room is not the same thing as a backyard barbecue in August, a summer vacation on the Carolina Coast, or flopping down on a recliner to watch Monday Night Football in the dreaded and noxious man cave.  People need to understand that and present themselves accordingly. 

It was nonetheless encouraging to peek through the front window late this morning, in search of our Sunday New York Times, and notice a young couple with their little girl, who live across the street from us.  Presumably, they were returning from church.  Mom and toddler-age daughter were dressed in pretty sun dresses, and Dad, bless him, was actually wearing a charcoal suit that fit pretty well with a tie.  

The couple in question, who do not dress like this every day from what I've noticed the past several weeks since the weather has improved, must be 18-20 years our junior.  Perhaps there is some limited hope with regard to the younger set and dressing appropriately when a situation calls for it?  The sight of this happy family was a small, and unexpected Easter surprise in any case.

Ok, I've got a ham to bake, so I'll draw this post to a close.  Best wishes for a peaceful Easter Sunday to you and yours.  Don't go overboard on those jellybeans, marshmallow peeps, and/or chocolate bunnies though.  Easier said than done, right?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Keep Your Eyes Peeled. . .

The GREAT Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster (the latter in a tweed three-piece).  Besides the wonderful storylines based on the Wodehouse stories, the series is a feast for the eyes when it comes to period architecture, decor, cars, and clothes.

As average guys who have embarked on revamping and building your wardrobes -- and, perhaps, are also watching their pennies -- it pays to be vigilant, think ahead, and keep your eyes open when it comes to classic male attire.  That might very well mean purchasing an item when you see it in a thrift/charity shop or online even if it's out of season with your current climate and weather conditions.


The J. Press tweed suit in question.  I've been on the look-out for something like this for several years.


For instance, I was able (amazingly) to score this J. Press tweed three-piece suit recently on Ebay for a song.  I won't bore you with a crass enumeration of actual retail costs versus my savings, but clearly no one else watching this item was thinking ahead to next fall and winter yet.  We are really only getting into the swing of springtime here in my corner of the world after all.


The labels inside the jacket and pants.  Never thought I'd actually find anything like this that I could afford.  Dumb luck, eh?


In any case, that will give me ample time before cooler weather arrives once again, in October or so, for a few alterations and dry-cleaning.  Needless to say, I cannot wait, and the suit should look fantastic with a wool necktie and a pair of heavier full brogues, ether my old Florsheims or Phi Bates.  Perhaps I should rechristen this blog Confessions of a Classic Menswear Nerd

All of my silly fanboy drivel aside, the lesson for today is that you should never turn a blind eye to a sought after item of attire simply because it might be summer, and you're not yet thinking about winter coats and boots.  Look for future potential and, when the price is right, snap up whatever it might be.  That vintage fedora, Harris Tweed sports jacket, or genuine Ancient Madder necktie you've spotted might not be there an hour later.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Update. . .

Sigh.  The tweed suit above arrived a couple of days ago, and. . .  It is far too small.  More a like a small 38R, or even a 36R.  The jacket is much too tight in the shoulders, the vest/waistcoat is too tight, and the pants, even if the waist were let out an inch or so, are, again, too tight for a suit.  What a disappointment, since it was advertised, and the various measurements listed, as a 40R or 41R.  Fortunately, the seller has been very nice about taking it back and offering a refund, but what a sartorial disappointment.  Back to the ol' drawing board.  Grumble, grumble, grumble. . .

Friday, April 18, 2014

It's a Glen Plaid Good Friday!

 Connery, Sir Sean Connery, wearing a wonderful gray Glen Plaid suit in From Russia with Love (1963).

Since we have had a delightfully sunny and warm spring day in my corner of the world for Good Friday 2014, my vintage Corbin wool-silk Glen Plaid two-piece suit had its first wearing of the year.  I have reached the conclusion that, except for the most staid occasions, this is my favorite pattern for a sports jacket or suit.  Just enough visual interest without going overboard.  If I were limited to a single suit or sports jacket, without a doubt it would have to be in a gray or blue Glen Plaid.  Hands down.


 Another shot from the film for good measure.  Here, Mr. Bond chats with Ali Kerim Bey, played by the late Pedro Gregorio Armendáriz Hastings.


Now, in no way am I in the same league as the young Sean Connery (sadly), but I still look and feel reasonably good in my own suit, which is a light tan/black with a very fine red and teal overlay.  A gray wool three-piece Glen Plaid suit is on the ol' mental list though.  Unfortunately, my wife, The Grand Duchess, was not available to snap a photo of yours truly this afternoon, so you'll just have to make do with these.  A hardship I know.  But chin up.  I have every confidence that you'll manage.  Somehow.  


Here's a third photograph of, as my mother still insists, the ONLY legitimate 007.  And why not? Once more, Mr. Bond wears his single-breasted, gray two-piece Glen Plaid suit with characteristic ease.


All kidding aside, what's the classic style tip for today then?  Only this.  Guys, if you want to kick up your everyday style several notches from where it resides currently, don't fear patterns.  Solid navy and charcoal suits are fine.  They'll serve you reasonably well when you need a suit, especially if you must restrict yourself to just one, but they lack that certain panache and, indeed, that joie de vivre so ably characterized and conveyed by the Glen Plaid suit.  

So, it's time to get over yourself and add a sports jacket or suit in a Glen Plaid pattern to your wardrobe.  Wear it with pride and aplomb.  You'll stand out at once as a man of considerable style, taste, grooming, and sophistication, which is what we're really after here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Saturday Update. . .
For true clothing nerds.  Otherwise, just ignore the following.  The third of three Brooks Brothers items (purchased with money earned from selling shoes via The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style on Ebay) arrived a little while ago.  I am now the proud owner of three almost new jackets, purchased at very reasonable rates: 

1) Double-breasted 6/2 Navy Blazer

2) Charcoal Glen Plaid Sports Jacket (See the post from yesterday above!)

3) Olive Khaki Summer-weight 3/2 Roll  Jacket 

A perfect fit for all three with a a size 40L.  Just some shortening of the sleeves this summer, and they'll be all ready to roll once the fall semester begins in late August. . .  although I don't want to think of that quite yet.  This has been a difficult year as far as college stuff is concerned.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Stylish Man Has "Character". . .


An interesting post yesterday at The Daily Prep on the nature of "character" has prompted today's thought here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  Here it is.  The truly stylish man has character. 

What exactly is character?  Off the top of my head, character includes various intangible traits like selflessness, charity, kindness, consideration, benevolence, and forbearance.  The Josephson Institute's Center for Youth Ethics describes character in considerably more detail, breaking it down into six distinct pillars, which are: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.  Finally, The Art of Manliness featured an interesting post on the subject of character here.

It strikes me -- taking into account our incredibly self-absorbed, superficial, LOL, OMG, celebrity-obsessed, and reality TV-flooded era of false bonhomie (look it up) -- that few people seem to have any notion of character.  And you certainly never hear character discussed within the general hubbub that passes for public discourse anymore.  At least not in the United States.  Nonetheless, average guys who want to kick up their everyday style several notches would do well reacquaint themselves with the concept.  It costs nothing.

Here's a little challenge, then, to readers of this blog.  Let's do our utmost to abide by and practice the concepts outlined above in our daily lives and interactions.  It would certainly help us to help the world become a marginally better place in which to live.  And hey!  No mention of shoes or attire at all.  What's going on here?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Business Casual Is Not. . .

These are examples of what is acceptable Business Casual wear for men and women.  Do you see any flip flops, cargo pants, jeans, or club wear?

This post is inspired by a young man in my Contemporary Global Cinema course, who gave his term paper presentation today.  Before starting, he loudly proclaimed that he had read the ten detailed presentation guidelines (only one of which had to do with clothing), uploaded to our Moodle course page last week, and he had thus, "dressed for success in Business Casual attire."  His exact words.  

Here's the skinny on Business Casual.  It is not old sneakers, dirty jeans without a belt, a wrinkled untucked shirt worn with a loosened necktie and tie clip.  Neither is Business Casual a hairy, pale pink, prematurely flabby belly peeking out now and then.  As you might imagine, the student's presentation, while not awful, was not exactly stellar either.  Clearly attention to detail is not this 22-year-old senior's strong suit.   The young Mr. M. needs to rethink his approach somewhat.

What about the content of his presentation itself?  Well, various questions raised by his classmates during Q&A afterwards brought several problems with his argument to the fore.  And the barely stifled, open-mouthed belch in the middle of Mr. M.'s presentation was yet another indicator of the overall quality of things during this particular 20-minute segment of class.  It really should not have been surprising given the detailed nature of an e-mail that this same young man sent me just before Midterm, in which he shared far too much personal information -- Super-dooper-mega TMI -- about why he was absent from class one day.  

Someone needs a little refinement.  So, I'll bang this old drum yet again for any average guys reading this who might actually realize that something is amiss, and that there is a very real need for them to kick up their everyday style several notches as they move kicking and screaming into adult life.  Here it is.

Guys, you've got to present yourself well -- that includes how you behave -- and dress appropriately if you really want people to sit up, shut up, listen up, and take what you have to say seriously.  You've got to look like you know what you are talking about.  Failure to understand that point does not instill confidence in others when it comes to your knowledge and abilities.  Neither does it matter how bright and degreed you might be.  The way you conduct yourself -- and appearance is a part of that like it, or not -- matters as much as what you say, and what you might know.  

If you plan on a life in the white collar, professional world, and if you want to come across as at least upper middle class -- excuse my dragging class into this discussion.  It's difficult to avoid doing so, but if we are honest, "class" is about more than just simple economics -- then you've got to look and act a certain way.  That's not an indictment of anyone, their backgrounds, abilities, opportunities, or lack thereof.  It's just how things are if we look at it realistically.  As the cliche goes, you've gotta walk the walk and talk the talk.  You must look the part in other words.

Now, people either get that, or they don't.  It's a fact of life that many don't like to think about, or have brought to their attention, and some take great offense at the mere suggestion.  But it exists nevertheless.  And no, that's not fair, but life isn't always fair.  In any case, this means that you help your cause as you go through life by presenting yourself for public consumption in a way that is more pulled together and polished than might be the case during the evenings or weekends.  I'll come clean here and admit, for the record, that I don't sit around in a suit and tie all of the time either.  I actually enjoy Levis 501s and cowboy boots during my off hours at home, that is when I'm not in leather deck shoes and chino shorts or corduroy jeans, depending on the season.  But I digress. 

Let's look at a hypothetical case to help illustrate the point.  Two job applicants have applied for the same position and, on paper, look more or less equally qualified.  Both get through an initial round of telephone interviews, and second, in-person interviews are set up.  The big day arrives, and both guys turn up, a few hours apart, to meet the the people in charge of hiring.  Who would you call back for to offer the job in the end?  The disheveled slob, who, although he is marginally stronger on paper, looks like he has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, much less getting his shoes on the right feet?  Or the neatly groomed, well-dressed guy who, while he might be slightly less qualified, nonetheless looks like he can hit the ground running, handle a number of simultaneous tasks without batting an eye, and function well with his colleagues without any hiccups?  The guy who looks and acts ten times worse than Oscar Madison ever did?  Or the guy who comes across as polished and even urbane in his actions and speech? 

On a closely related note, how you present yourself also has to do with a less pleasant aspect of personal habits and behavior, an issue that fewer and fewer people seem to take seriously.  Here it is.  Guys, you've also got to take control of your body and stop bodily noises and odors before they happen, at the very least when you are around other people.  That kind of thing is repulsive, highly offensive, and it destroys your credibility because absolutely no one will remember what you said after you fill the room with the fetid aroma of your last meal.  Moreover, it is definitely NOT the way to behave with a love interest even once that careful early dating behavior wanes.  At best, others will begin to see you as that poor schlub who can't seem to help himself.  At worst, you'll come across as a completely inconsiderate pig.  Do you really want to risk leaving others with that kind of impression?  Here's the deal.  No one else should have to endure your intestinal issues.  It's foul, ok?  We aren't wild street dogs or cavemen, and presumably you weren't raised in a barn, so don't do it. 

Here's a little style secret that might help.  It's called self-control, a concept that is almost never mentioned anymore.  With that in mind, hopefully, you won't let it all hang out when you're alone either.  That's probably expecting too much of many people these days though.  And again, you'll either grasp that, or you won't.  I suppose if one has not had certain grooming and polish instilled in him by Mom, Dad, and/or other adult family members as a child and adolescent, it's difficult to realize the need and see the point once you are on your own.  As with so much else, pleasant behavior and knowing how to present oneself start at home.  Or they don't. 

So what's the point then?  Clearly, the term "college man" no longer means what it once did, at least not with respect to personal decorum.  And that's more than a little troubling.  If we can no longer count on the observance of even the most basic polite conventions from most of the people with whom we interact, life is certainly less pleasant for everyone.  Is this a byproduct, intended or otherwise, of ever greater egalitarianism over the last half-century or so?  If so, then color me a filthy elitist.  I prefer the company of polite people.  Guilty as charged.  So, shoot me.  Line me up against the wall when the Revolution comes.  I'll even give the command to fire.  Until that happens, however, please spare the rest of us the sight of your sagging young tummy, your indigestion, and your apparently chronic flatulence.  Thanks.

-- Heinz-Ulrich