Choosing not to

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The other day, my father sent me a joke he'd seen somewhere: A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion, but chooses not to.

Well, perhaps 'joke' is the wrong word. A wry comment, which amused me, all the same. Leaving aside for a minute what precisely it means in this day and age to be a 'gentleman' and whether that is even necessarily desirable, it did make me think of a number of other ideas along the same lines. Here's one for many of my friends: a gentleman is someone who can talk at length about any wine on the wine list, but chooses not to. Or, easing slowly but surely back on-topic, perhaps: a gentleman is a man who can wear a three-piece suit, a tie-pin, a pocket square and a trilby, all at the same time, but chooses not to.

My point, if I have one, is that being well-dressed seems to me to be as much about choosing what to leave out as it is about getting everything 'right'. As I've developed my enthusiasm for clothes, I'm aware that my interest in doing everything just because I can (wearing a pocket square every day, obsessing over the details of 'correct' black tie) has waned, and I have developed what is (I hope) a healthier interest in wearing outfits that look pleasing, and that please me. On occasion, to the horror of some readers of this blog, I choose not to wear a tie. Of late, when wearing a double-breasted dinner jacket to more casual events, I choose to follow the example of one of my friends and not wear an evening shirt, but an ordinary white shirt.

You don't have to like or agree with, let alone follow, my choices but I hope you'll see the importance of occasionally letting go of the 'iGent' obsession with doing things because you can, and because it's 'correct', and choosing instead to let your personality, style, confidence and even 'gentlemanliness' just speak for itself.