The knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. When he gazes into the mirror, the reflection of greatness should readily greet him. It does not begin with the clothing he chooses to attire himself in, nor the vehicle he selects to navigate city streets. Not the place of employment where he makes a living. Not the amount of money presently residing in his bank account. Why? Well, because character starts with his self-worth. His esteem is not erected upon a mountain of biodegradable materialism – subject to decay and waste. No, the gentleman’s image is based on gentlemanly fundamentals that are concrete and certain. Virtue. Honor. Principle. Forthrightness. The Gentlemen’s Standard.
In the interest of clarity for the audience, this blog entry is not an affront to the current nationwide slogan Black Lives Matter. Because, despite some stubborn reluctance to accept historical reality, the systematic campaign that has been waged against Black Americans in this country, to undermine and dehumanize our lives, is ample justification for many to cry out that their black lives do in fact matter. And although this hashtag propelled slogan has attained growing popularity over the past year – to be quite candid here – this modern battle cry is suitably applicable for nearly every decade of the black experience here in the United States of America.
A gentleman’s grooming regimen usually entails the obligatory cadre of routine bathroom rituals: the fundamental shower or bath, the brushing and flossing of teeth, hair management, and the required application of moisturizers and deodorant. However, there are certain grooming requirements that largely go undetected or ignored. And as a gentleman ages, these grooming requirements can become problematic if left neglected. Case in point: A few months ago, I was experiencing a slight tickle inside my right nostril. Quickly surmising that I needed to blow my nose, I proceeded to relieve my nose of any mucosal debris, but alas it did not resolve the issue. Further inspecting my nose in the mirror, I was horrified to discover a long strand of hair swaying back and forth like a kite in a gentle wind.
Panicking, my mind raced – how many people had I spoken to with this unsightly, giant hair hanging out my nose? The resolution was simple: Go forth to a department store and purchase a nose hair trimmer. Sure, I incorrectly thought only men that served in World War II required the use of such a device, but now was not the moment to be prideful. No one would have to know what goes on in my bathroom – although now you do – just as long as I didn’t have hirsute nostrils come the next morning.
So there, I present to you an embarrassing moment in my mid-adult years. If you have this issue, trust, it only takes a few seconds to address, maybe once a month. The investment – the money and time – pales in comparison to the notion of having Cousin It camping out inside your nose. A gentleman can go all out and spend up to $50.00 for one or be frugal and procure a trimmer from a discount department chain such as TJ Maxx. I remember my electronics instructor from 11th grade, he had hair protruding from his both ears and nostrils. Not to mention that his chest hair was on a jail break from his dress shirt, but that is another blog post. But, anyway, I cannot allow myself to go out like that. You should not either.
Sure, on a superficial level, Samuel L. Jackson gracing the cover of Rake Magazine may appear as business per usual to the general public. However, from the perspective of an African-American male, namely my own, this cover represents something more powerful than its elementary purpose. Due to its dearth in the mainstream media, the illustration of the black male, regaled in style and distinction, is always a welcome sight. That being stated, I wanted to list a few personal thoughts on contemporary style choices that stand in contrast to the illustration above. Caveat: These are just one elder gentleman’s opinion that has to dress in the business world. So if these statements don’t apply, then let it fly. Nevertheless, some gentlemen are out here doing too much.
- Nowadays, some gentlemen are compelled to engage in an orgy of accessory adornment; it really is not necessary. Less is certainly more. If you find yourself rocking 6-7 bracelets on one or both wrists – you’re doing too much.
- In recent years, the endorsement of the skinny or slim aesthetic has pervaded the gentlemanly landscape of style, and the results have been pretty much hit or miss. Some men are simply going too small and the presentation just isn’t working. Thankfully this trend is shrinking – pun intended – and style is gravitating back to clothing that fit appropriately. If you’re shopping in the boy’s section for a pair of jeans that “fit” – you’re doing too much.
- Style is all about freedom of personal expression through the medium of clothing. However, if all of a sudden, you decide to rock a woman’s blouse or dress just to appear edgy – you’re doing too much.
- Sometimes a gentleman will have to reach a little deeper into his wallet than desired to procure a stylish item. However, if you are purchasing a myriad of designer brands with no rhyme or reason, no purpose or cohesion – you’re doing too much.
- Tattoos are fine. Hell, I have tattoos. However, tattoos on one’s face is – with all due respect – ridiculous. If your employment prospects are severely hindered because you look like a serial killer awaiting execution – you’re doing too much with the face tats brother.
- If you are a gentleman of a certain age, say, 35 years or older; dressing like the latest hip hop, one hit wonder is not in your best interest. The wrinkles, receding hairline, and grey hairs belie your youthful, hip hop attire. From one aging gentleman to another, we’re not Jay Z – you’re doing too much.
- Midnight blue toe polish. Cherry red lipstick. The arches at McDonald’s have nothing on the arc of your eyebrows. Dear sir – you have done way too much.
Regarding our footwear, at one moment or another in our lives, we have probably committed the same sartorial shoe sin: haphazardly cramming one’s feet into an unsuspecting pair; unfairly treating them like worn, downtrodden slippers. Nothing can ruin an otherwise dapper presentation more than a dubious association with run-over kicks. So, in the spirit of simplifying a gentleman’s life, along with maintaining the appearance extending the life of his shoes, I highly recommend purchasing a shoe horn. Well, not just any shoe horn, I am espousing the virtues of a long handle shoe horn – preferably one with an ergonomic, rubberized handle and spring-aided, flexible head. Excellent for gentlemen with compromised ranges of motion, one can slip in and out of his beloved wingtips without crushing the counter and beating up the quarters. Relatively inexpensive, a long handle shoe horn can be procured at any reputable retail store or fine men’s department store. Definitely a wise investment, your back and your shoes will thank you immediately.