A favorite Laurence Fellows illustration that has appeared before at some point here at Classic Style. It sums up today's sentiment nicely.
I have written as much here before, but it bears repeating. Personal outlook, behavior, speech, and cultivating a clean, neat appearance are more important than the make of a man's suit, shoes, or the color of his necktie.
After a hefty dose of reality television via hotel cable while in Minneapolis last week, time spent navigating large airports, and observing humanity in a large and rather pricey hotel, to say nothing of the various unsavory news items of the last seven days -- stories like the Ohio man arrested following his drunken tirade at Disney World in Florida, the high school-aged Arkansas couple arrested after their baby (one of four children the two have together) was discovered with more than 100 rat bites on her face and body, plus a whole host other "news" of a similar nature -- I have just one piece of advice for men of any age looking to kick up their style by several notches.
Ready, ladies and gentlemen? Here you go. Pull yourself up out of the filth and steer well clear of anything that smacks of the stupid, the ignorant, the crass, or the just plain trashy.
Those four words -- stupid, ignorant, crass, trashy -- seem to define much of society as far as personal outlook, behavior, speech, and appearance are concerned in 2017. Those four words also seem applicable to much of what that same society holds dear judging by what is all around us 24/7 just about anywhere you turn these days, and in what now passes for popular entertainment.
One visitor to Classic Style observed a few years ago that it seems like most of society in the United States suffers from low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect, so it (society at large) does not aspire to anything better. That might be true, to some extent, but I also think that same society, perceives, on some level, the rapid and tangible decline in standards of conduct and appearance all around it as self-affirming. There is no reason to aspire to anything better.
Most material things are now fairly accessible to most people anyway. So, why bother asking more of oneself or holding those around you to higher expectations? There's no &!#%@*!&%$ reason, right? The democratization of society at work. In so many ways, we have sunk to the lowest common denominator as a society, and most members of that society seem unwilling to step outside the box and pull themselves up out of the primeval slime for fear of drawing unwanted attention from their fellows. A strange version of Foucault's panopticism perhaps?
As I lamented a few weeks ago in a previous post, when might the now glaringly apparent coarsening of society moderate a bit, and the pendulum start to swing in the opposite direction? Or are the end times here already? That's a rhetorical question, of course, but shambling aimlessly through life like overgrown, foul-mouthed guttersnipes, who might as well be running a meth lab in the basement on the side, ain't the way forward, folks.
Now, you might exclaim in barely contained rage, "You privileged snob! How dare you call others out for their collective rudeness. You'll be among the first lined up against the wall when the Revolution comes. Why don't you simply ignore the coarser aspects of society if they are so offensive to your delicate constitution?"
Ah, if only it were so easy to sidestep the kinds of things I'm talking about. But as I say above, crass, stupid, ignorant, and trashy are everywhere you might look and within easy earshot in 2017. The senses are assaulted simply by virtue of turning on the television, walking down an airport concourse on the way to your gate, or, heaven forbid, attempting to have a quiet cup of coffee and some toast in the hotel dining room during the Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast buffets. People just don't know how to act, and that's a problem. What might ol' Mr. Sarte have to say about our current societal state of non-being?
Returning to the notion of classic style then. If a man wants to set himself apart and improve his personal style, he should focus first on improving personal outlook, behavior, speech, and in cultivating a consistently clean and neat appearance. Combed hair, a clean, tucked in shirt with a collar, and clean jeans with a belt will do at first. The tweed jackets, the suits, the tailoring, the wool neckties, and the leather dress shoes made from wooden lasts uniquely shaped to his own feet can come later.