Ask The Gentleman

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Being a modern gentleman isn’t just about dressing well and knowing which dinner fork to use at a party, so we asked The Gentleman to chime in and answer the tough stuff. Here’s his expert advice on everything from tuxedos to wedding toasts.


I received a wedding invitation that lists the dress code as “black tie optional.” I don’t want to be over or underdressed, so what should I wear?

If the attire is black tie optional, I’ll assume this is an evening wedding. With that in mind, now’s the time to break out a tuxedo if you have it. If you don’t, you can never go wrong with a well-fitted black suit. The classics never go out of style. It’s a good thing to be the best dressed person at the party, so don’t be afraid to go all out!

How can I ensure my leather goods will last a long time?

There’s nothing quite like the patina on my old leather jacket, and I keep my leather looking great by following a few basic rules. First, everything is stored in a dark area with good airflow and low humidity (my closet). This prevents leather from fading, mildewing, or becoming brittle. It’s also best to clean and condition your leather at least twice a year. For items used more often like briefcases, shoes, and watches, you’ll want to condition them regularly using a high quality cream polish or mink oil.

I’m the best man in my brother’s wedding this summer. I’ve never been much of a public speaker, and I’m nervous about giving a toast. Do you have any tips or
suggestions?

The first thing to remember is that your brother asked you to give a toast because he is confident in your abilities, so there’s no need to be nervous. A great way to break the ice is by sharing a sweet memory or funny story about the couple. This puts the focus on your brother and his bride, and that’s what your toast is all about. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact and engage your audience. We often speak too quickly when we’re nervous, so be sure to practice ahead of time and speak slower than normal. Overall, just keep it short and sweet!

My father-in-law is hard to shop for and seems to have everything he needs. What are some unique gift items to surprise him with?

Fathers tend to be this way, no matter how old or young they are. Stick with what you know about him – what are his hobbies? What does he enjoy in his time off? A great way to make sure it’s something he won’t have is to find a fun, useful gadget that relates to his hobbies. There’s new tech coming out all the time, so he may not have the latest gadgets. If he’s an outdoorsman or fisherman, he’ll love new gear like a bluetooth fishfinder or solar charging kit. For the chef, a beautiful Japanese knife set will do the trick. And if your father-in-law is the man who constantly wants to know who’s at the door, there’s always an HD video doorbell.

I’m spending the holiday with my fiancé’s family for the first time, and I’m nervous. Are there any major dos and don’ts?

Make sure you know what you’re in for. Ask her if they have any long-standing traditions like reading a certain book or waking each other up early on Christmas morning. This will help you prepare for the upcoming festivities. Definitely offer to help as much as possible, but don’t overstep your boundaries. Her parents will still want you to feel like the guest.

What is the difference between a sport coat, a blazer, and a suit jacket?

There’s a varying degree of formality implied by each piece – a suit jacket is typically the most formal, followed by a blazer, then a sport coat. A suit jacket is, as the name suggests, part of a suit. It’ll have a matching pair of pants, and possibly a vest as well. A blazer is a standalone item you can wear with just about anything. Blazers are great for occasions that require you to be more formal than a plain collared shirt, but steer clear of pairing blazers with Polos. Some people may disagree on this rule, but I always say that if you’re going to pair a Polo with a jacket, make sure it’s a sport coat and not a blazer. A sport coat usually has brass buttons and pairs well with jeans, chinos, or other casual pants. As with any jacket, make sure it fits well and isn’t baggy. The oversized look went out of style decades ago.

I’m attending a networking event next week, and I need advice on how to stand out.

First, dress for the job you see yourself having in five to 10 years. Your appearance plays a key role in making a good first impression, so make sure you look sharp. The second most important part is your attitude and body language. If you fidget or forget to make eye contact, all the great things you’re saying won’t have the same effect. Stand up straight, repeat people’s names so you remember them, and shake as many hands as you can.


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