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Rules of dress

An article I wrote a while back for Watch Anish and Riddle magazine, best enjoyed with a generous glass of your favourite tipple. Rules of dress:

  1. No brown in town – brown is for the countryside, where the dirt and mud are less visible on brown shoes than on smarter polished black shoes which are reserved for town and the darker formal clothes of city life.
  1. Should leather shoes be polished – yes, that is why they come shiny and should stay so, that is why shoe polish was invented. Scuffed, dull shoes are the first signs of moral decay.
  1. No white socks – white socks are specifically for athletic wear, as it is unlikely a gentleman would own any pure white tailoring, as the lightest shade previously was a pale cream, and white shoes would be filthy in five seconds, thus no requirement for white socks.
  1. Never a tie and jean together – jeans are seen as the ultimate blue collar work wear, and wearing a tie is not conducive to manual labour, unless you enjoy being strangled by a combine harvester.
  1. A denim jacket and jeans together are acceptable – yes if you are a lumberjack in north America, or like wearing the Canadian version of a dinner suit, a “Canadian Tuxedo”.
  1. Take your hat off indoors – hats are a form of protection from the elements, and the argument being the sun does not shine nor does it rain indoors.
  1. An unkempt beard is manly – handy for storing food for snacks later.
  1. Wearing all black is stylish – yes if you are colour blind, have no imagination or are about to commit a crime at night.
  1. All white is cool – that is what the cabana boy at the pool also thinks.
  1. White dinner jackets are cool – yes the waiters find that too
  1. Sandals on men are comfortable – that is what Helmut with his white socks in the campervan also thinks.
  1. Flip flops in town are airy – yes, the A&E department is looking forward to your upcoming visit with a broken ankle.
  1. Shirt sleeves should be longer than the jacket sleeves – firstly the shirt is cheaper to replace than the jacket, and so you want the cheaper, longer one to wear through first, secondly, aesthetically, if one is showing shirt collar above the neck of the jacket, one should also show a proportionate amount at the sleeve.
  1. Your coat sleeves should be the same length as your shirt sleeves – to protect them from the elements, but no longer, they are not there to keep your hands warm, that is what gloves are for.
  1. Pockets don’t belong on a dress shirt – English shirts traditionally don’t have pockets as a waistcoat and/or braces would obscure access to them
  1. White shirt collars are a sign of class – actually the converse, poverty. Frayed collars and cuffs are replaced with white fabric, as new replacement collars and cuffs of the same shirt fabric would still be new and bright unlike the faded body of the shirt that has been laundered multiple times. If the replacement collars and cuffs were laundered each time the shirt was, they would be just as frayed as the shirt.
  1. Striped shirts are smart – again the converse, striped shirts were invented to hide the dirt and grime on the body and so would give the appearance of being cleaner longer.
  1. Never belt and braces together – shows one has no faith in either doing their job, one will suffice. Like going to a restaurant with a packed lunch.
  1. Wearing a pocket watch and a wrist watch – see above
  1. Suspenders are elegant – that is what women of a certain profession wear to hold their stockings up, men wear BRACES!
  1. Clip on suspenders are acceptable – (see above) yes like using a rubber band to hold your Rolex strap together.
  1. Nato straps are acceptable on a dress watch – yes if you are going to go diving or engage in hand to hand combat wearing a tuxedo.
  1. Precious metal tool watches are acceptable – yes like fitting your Ferrari with baby seats and off road tyres.
  1. Tie clips with waistcoats – yes if you are going to be hanging upside down or perform aerial acrobatics, the waistcoat should keep your tie in.
  1. Rolled up sleeves on a jacket – you watched Miami Vice too many times. If you are warm take your jacket off.
  1. Clip on bow ties are acceptable – what are you three years old and don’t know how to tie your shoe laces? It is the same knot.
  1. Loosening your tie knot is acceptable in public – no it is not, wear it properly or take it off!
  1. Tie and pocket square should match – hopefully never, shows a lack of imagination, unless you want to dress like an African dictator, if so, may I recommend matching braces. 
  1. Novelty accessories are cool – yes if you are five years old and have the charisma of a wet blanket. One should never wear something more interesting than oneself.
  1. Mismatched waistcoats are ok with a suit – possibly if it is tweed and you live in the country and no one you know will ever see you, otherwise you should have got a matching waistcoat in the first place.
  1. Tie pins are natty – no, you don’t know how to tie a tie properly and you are destroying your shirt collar by putting holes in it
  1. Wearing a breitling navitimer and having no clue how to use it – it is not that difficult. Like having a smart phone only to make phone calls

Riddle Magazine


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