This old Laurence Fellows illustration has turned up here at Classic Style for the Average Guy before, I am certain, but I come back to it because it provides a glimpse into a largely vanished world, where many more people than today observed the rules of polite society as far as their interactions with one another were concerned.
Finally managed to accomplish the old twice yearly wardrobe switcheroo yesterday afternoon, brushing down and zipping my tweed, corduroy, and wool flannel into breathable garment bags and hanging lighter weight spring, summer, and early fall items in my bedroom armoire. I had also forgotten about the three Southwick suits that still need minor alterations before they can be worn. This summer for sure.
I spent yesterday morning staffing our MSU Chapter table for The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at World Languages Day on campus. I happened to wear a lighter weight navy blazer, a dark crimson knitted silk tie, a blue OCBD shirt, olive chinos, with dark tan belt and monkstrap loafers. I was one of four men present in a jacket, and one of two with a necktie. Two of the four actually sported tan/taupe suits, one with tie and one (shakes head sadly) without.
If you're going to wear a blazer or sports jacket, have the sleeve shortened to fit your arms and show a bit of cuff. Simple, inexpensive, and it looks a hell of a lot better than not doing it.
If you're out of high school, or college, avoid prefacing your remarks to others with the word "Dude," which sounds pathetic in the extreme coming from the mouths of adults over 30, 40, and 50.
And speaking of mouths, if you're staffing an information booth or table, let up on the donuts and other crap typically made available at these kinds of events. Nothing looks worse than someone in his fifties with powdered sugar, glaze, or sprinkles around his lips, or down his front, as he talks through a mouthful to marginally interested passersby. I saw plenty of women of various ages suffering from this affliction too. It ain't just the boys sadly.
I never had a more startling picture of how overfed we have become as society here in the United States in recent decades than I had yesterday. I am aware of the statistics that indicate as much, but still. Good Lord! The sheer number of adolescents, teenagers, college kids, parents, and/or teachers who approach being, not slightly, but grossly overweight in 2016 is astounding and troubling. Before I get any venomous hate mail, that’s not a moral judgement of anyone, merely an observation. That said, the vocal admonitions to stop so called 'fat shaming' and which advocate 'body acceptance' are not helping things. We have become a physical mess as a society. The answer? Stop grazing all of time, eat healthier food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (single, reasonably sized helpings are enough for most of us), turn off the boob-tube, and get active. As my maternal grandmother used to say in no uncertain terms, “Get off you duff and get outside!” Sigh. No wonder it's so hard to find living room furniture that isn't huge and overstuffed. There. I said it.
Returning to the illustration at the top of this post, vestiges of this more polite world (albeit with different hairstyles and clothing) still existed as recently as the 1970s and 1980s. I was there and part of it as a child and young person in the company of my parents, grandparents, and their friends, acquaintances, or business colleagues outside Philadelphia. Cracks might have started to show during the very late 60s or early 70s, but I put the blame primarily on the 1990s tech boom. Not only did the idea of looking presentable outside the home, at least during business hours Monday through Friday, fall by the wayside, but, apparently, so too did the notion of at least acting like we had more than an ounce of grooming and sophistication. And polite behavior is part of that like it, or not.
Many of the sociopolitical developments of the last 50-100 years were long overdue in the United States. I have said so before and neither argue for reversals, nor suggest that we don't still have ground to cover. But polite manners in day to day life, not just around the dining table, seem to have been swept aside by our mad, myopic, dash toward greater egalitarianism since 1945. In our collective rush to shake off the shackles of “The Man,” we have lost something that we need in 2016 more than ever. . . In no particular order, that includes concepts like improved levels of gentility, self-respect, self-restraint, moderation in thought and deed as well as greater consideration for others. Add to that the idea that we might strive constantly to be better, to become more than we are at present. How can anyone argue with that?
I agree. The reasons escape me. It seems to me that America is experiencing a serious case of low self esteem. The manner that Americans address each other. The image they project of themselves to others, the obvious lack of personal pride come across as being their own "red badge of courage". Look at me. I'm worse than you in every way. A broad based rejection of manners, acceptable apparence, and respect of others.ReplyDelete
Is this the result of the loss of individualism and being just a number in a mega society?
To those readers who are unfamiliar with the book, might I recommend Lynne's Truss'ReplyDelete
Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door.
Now, that one, I'll add to my Amazon list and buy it with the next round of books! Thank you for the heads-up. Best Regards, Heinz-UlrichReplyDelete
This just appeared:ReplyDelete
"Where Have the Manners Gone?"