13 May 2010

The English Gentleman: The Gentleman and his Wardrobe

His Suits

Those people who have a suit for every day of the week and even, one is reluctantly led to believe, more expansive wardrobes, are parvenus of the worst sort. A gentleman generally has two suits. There is one for formal occasions like funerals and another for less formal occasions like going up to London. They are made by one of a select band of exclusive tailors and last him many years until his wife judges they are too threadbare. Then they are either handed down to the gardener or given to a good cause like the Distressed Gentlefolk's Aid Association. By this time, with any luck, his tailor has been paid and he buys two more. The criterion of a gentleman's suit is that it should fit well round the shoulders and that the cuff buttons undo so that he can turn them back when he is washing his hands.

Other Wardrobe

Although the number of suits he owns is on the meagre side, he has an assortment of other garments which are essential to him and which seldom find a place in the wardrobes of others. He has, for example, a jacket for every occasion. If he is a hunting gentleman he will have a hunting jacket. He will also have a hacking jacket, a shooting jacket and a gardening jacket which no self-respecting gardener would ever be seen in and they invariably have horn or leather buttons, several of which will be missing. He has a dinner jacket with trousers to match which must under no circumstances be called a 'dinner suit'. If he has evening tails he apologises for them, saying that they belonged to his grandfather, which is almost certainly true. A gentleman will sometimes wear a white waistcoat with his dinner jacket, particularly if he cannot find a black one and not mind being whispered about by non-gents, for it is perfectly permissible. He will not, however, wear a black waistcoat with tail, which is the prerogative of hotel waiters. A gentleman will also have a morning coat which he wears with rather dashing light-coloured trousers unlike those dark striped ones which are rented out by dress-hire firms.

The English Gentleman, Douglas Sutherland (1978)


Lisa said...

"The suit should be medium-gray. Gray not only hides the dirt but is handy for sudden funerals." -- Macon Leary

K.S. Anthony said...

Debretts doesn't publish them like that anymore.

Sadly gone are the days of Mackwood and Sutherland.



Anonymous said...

Excellent advice. If only more men would heed it the world would be a more elegant place. Thank you for posting.

v. Braun. said...

I have that book, too! (but had read it ten or more years ago and can't remember its content at all...judging from that quote, a re-read is in order, its very sympathetic to my views. :))