Gentlemen Never Go Out of Style

noel design

Starting Member
Noel Gillespie: Gentlemen never go out of style

Every day for months in 1951 I travelled to work in Timaru by bus and each day I sat besides this dapper little man, perhaps in his mid 50s. He was immaculately dressed in a three-piece suit, watch chain, conservative tie with matching pocket handkerchief and polished shoes, always with his authentic Gladstone bag.

To all on the bus, my small fashionable, elegant friend from Temuka resembled a bank manager, perhaps a stockbroker.

Then one day I was sent to a state house building site just outside Timaru. There was my friend - a builder's labourer chipping concrete off boxing dressed in a pair of freshly pressed blue overalls.

The impression this infallibly groomed, fastidious gent had on this disorderly dressed 16-year-old was immediate, changing my perception of dress code for ever.

After that I always dressed for whatever the occasion, never compromising my principles, never "down dressing" to the same sloppy level of today's accepted standards.

This decline is now infecting almost every sector of our society. I'm not apologetic for being an old-fashioned traditionalist, but I'm of the belief that this rapid deterioration, this casual sloppy attitude, has become the accepted norm.

%We're seeing more and more flop flops, unshaven designer stubble, dress shirts hanging out, back-to-front baseball caps, trainers, track suits, cargo pants and sneakers - not only youths, but gents of my generation.
Restaurants accept anybody. Their clients are abandoning proper dress in droves, while others enforce a watered-down code.

Ramsay scrapped the jacket-and-tie dress code when he relaunched the Savoy Grill in 2003.

The Good Food Guide sparked a debate on dining attire when it dropped all references to dress codes, saying the number of restaurants with one had plunged. Deplorable indeed.

Only 15 or 20 years ago, it was common for high-end restaurants to have strictly enforced dress codes. But those days are gone.
With the fast food outlets, one can understand the casual dress code, but not in the concept of beautiful lounge atmosphere of hotels who have earned a reputation.

In the mid-60s we went out to an upmarket Auckland restaurant with a party of four couples, all dressed semi-formal for the occasion. One of the ladies in our party wore a fashionable pair of slacks with a very short overskirt.

The maitre d' politely informed her that trousers were not allowed. She promptly removed the "offending" item and sauntered into the dining area with an eye-popping entrance in her mini.

When I attended my first Sportsmen of the Year Awards, the invitation read "black tie" - black tie it was. Most men arrived wearing tuxedos, the rest were acceptable with dark lounge suit and black tie.

In recent years the dressing down of this elite event is staggering, the casual dress standards of sports jacket being accepted.

When dining at a restaurant, attending the theatre or any semi-formal occasion, I dress in a dark suit, sports jacket or blazer, slacks, tie with matching pocket handkerchief and cuff links. I love dressing up and for the most part have done so to please myself - and of course my wife as a mark of respect.

I dress appropriately for every situation as it is an indication of respect.
What irritates me is the sight of men attending the theatre or at a restaurant dressed as if they had just come straight from the garden - jeans, shirt hanging out and wearing trainers, and not just the thirtysomethings, but men my age. Have they no respect for their womenfolk?

This point was explicitly illustrated recently when I attended a performance of the Imperial Russian Ballet Company's The Nutcracker. The reason? My two young granddaughters from Sharon Howell School of Ballet were on stage.

I was staggered at the general standard of dress; most could have been attending a rugby game. The sight of middle-aged women wearing jeans and men open-neck shirts to a ballet was not only disrespectful to the company but preposterous at best, to say the least.

The sight of men drinking beer from a bottle at restaurants and functions infuriates me - trendy or just macho, uncouth at best. It is acceptable around the barbecue maybe. Even dress standards on city golf courses have declined over the years.

But nowhere is the deterioration in dress standards more egregious than among our state schools and university teaching staff. They would rise in this writer's estimation, along with many parents, if they smartened their appearance by becoming role models.

Teachers who can't be properly dressed are, quite frankly, often worse than their pupils. Not all primary schools have uniforms, which is a shame. Maybe it is all a matter of interpretation. I wonder ...

Noel Gillespie is a Christchurch businessman, writer and author of a number of history books.
 

kkollwitz

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
"my small fashionable, elegant friend from Temuka resembled a bank manager, perhaps a stockbroker.
.....There was my friend - a builder's labourer chipping concrete off boxing dressed in a pair of freshly pressed blue overalls."

Reminds me of the movie 'House of Sand and Fog.'
 

Blueboy1938

Elite Member
Bravo!

Living as I do in the wilds of SoCal, I have to endure a lot of what you are observing there amongst the casual Kiwi. Women are dressing much better these days, but their escorts are just not up to making the effort. I can understand restaurants relaxing The Code in order to survive in a competitive business, but women have the ultimate weapons: "The Headache" and "Not tonight, dear." What I don't understand is why they don't use them more to "behaviorally modify" their men into dressing up:icon_smile_wink:
 

Jovan

Honors Member
Personally, I don't really agree with the notion that women have to wear dresses or skirts to look respectable. Smart trousers look good, too. That's one thing I'm glad has changed in regard to dress codes at work and restaurants. Other things, not quite so much!

It depends on what they're teaching in schools. I would never think of bringing a tie or sport coat into a stagecraft or art class, sorry. It's better to wear things you don't care get paint on them, both for students and professors alike.

I think the last instructor I ever had who wore a tie taught 8th grade science. He only wore a shirt and tie, but had a sport coat that he wore outside when it was cold. He definitely gave more an impression of an authority, but that was mostly because he was the biggest stern-arse there! You didn't screw around in his lab.

I don't care what my acting professor wears to be honest and it may be better that he never wears a tie. The class is about opening up, being vulnerable, and exploring new things about yourselves. Most students will not be as at ease if he was dolled up in a three piece and bow tie. Also, we can't really wear clothes that are a bit constricting since we do stretching and acting exercises.

If I taught science, math, or anything else that stuck to the chalkboard I'd probably wear a coat and tie. Those are the classes where you really have to command respect since they're important subjects. Whereas in stagecraft, where my professor only ever "dresses up" in a plaid shirt tucked into jeans, he has to make it deathly clear that you do not **** around when a saw blade is turned on.

I agree with Blueboy. I'm pretty tired of seeing women my age dressed to impress (similarly to the OP, respect to their men) and their boyfriends not making the slightest effort.
 
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fat paul

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I recently went to a dance performance that my daughter was performing at. It was held at a very nice venue. I was the only man that was wearing a tie. I had on a three button navy suit, white shirt w/cuff links, a silk pocket square and black A&E fairgate shoes. I counted two gents wearing sport coats. This in a sold out venue holding over 700 patrons. Most men were wearing jeans and t-shirts. If you cant dress well for your childs performance, what can you dress well for?
fat paul
 

Brodirt

New Member
I often ask myself if the well dressed men seen in the stands of "classic" baseball would stand for the drama, histrionics and outright cheating of today's players. I think not. I also think that such logic can be applied throughout our modern society.
 

Rolex Luthor

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I'm with you, my friend, as will be the majority of the people who follow this forum. We'll be the ones dressed like you in restaurants, at the theater, etc.

But as you probably know, the populace in general does not agree. As for dressing to show respect for our wives, my own wife thinks it's odd that I choose to wear my "dress clothes" (chinos and an OCBD shirt) while relaxing at home on the weekends.
 

gordgekko

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
A fine essay. These days I'm generally no longer bothered by what other people wear -- it's one own's choice whether to be offended and I don't have the time for it anymore -- but it is nice to see that some people are still like, to paraphrase Churchill, an iron peg hammered into the frozen ground and remain true to their sartorial convictions.
 

Jovan

Honors Member
Time to play the devil's advocate here. :devil:

Excellent post , simply excellent. In the days of hip-hop and simply bad taste , your post was a welcome relief !
Well, hold up here, not all hip-hop is the same. You're thinking of all the "gangsta" stuff commonly played on the radio and even that's starting to fall out of favour.

Hip-hop/rap does not necessarily go with bad taste anymore either, as these gentlemen have demonstrated by shedding their baggy t-shirts and jeans for good.





I often ask myself if the well dressed men seen in the stands of "classic" baseball would stand for the drama, histrionics and outright cheating of today's players. I think not. I also think that such logic can be applied throughout our modern society.
I think you may be sliding a little into "everything was better back then" territory. If you think there was nothing objectionable back in the golden days of baseball, then I think you're a tad naive, no offence. As far as drama alone goes, I can think of Babe Ruth as a pretty darn good example. Dressing in a suit and fedora for a game was also a lot more common, so it's not realistic to say everyone had a conscience.

A fine essay. These days I'm generally no longer bothered by what other people wear -- it's one own's choice whether to be offended and I don't have the time for it anymore -- but it is nice to see that some people are still like, to paraphrase Churchill, an iron peg hammered into the frozen ground and remain true to their sartorial convictions.
My thoughts exactly. I've seen clothing forums get wayyy too vitriolic when it comes to condemning modern fashion. They don't just attack the clothes, they attack the person and make some rather ungentlemanly remarks about that person's supposed upbringing, thought patterns, manliness (rolling my eyes at that one), and so on.
 

JibranK

Super Member
Time to play the devil's advocate here. :devil:

Well, hold up here, not all hip-hop is the same. You're thinking of all the "gangsta" stuff commonly played on the radio and even that's starting to fall out of favour.

Hip-hop/rap does not necessarily go with bad taste anymore either, as these gentlemen have demonstrated by shedding their baggy t-shirts and jeans for good.





I think you may be sliding a little into "everything was better back then" territory. If you think there was nothing objectionable back in the golden days of baseball, then I think you're a tad naive, no offence. As far as drama alone goes, I can think of Babe Ruth as a pretty darn good example. Dressing in a suit and fedora for a game was also a lot more common, so it's not realistic to say everyone had a conscience.

My thoughts exactly. I've seen clothing forums get wayyy too vitriolic when it comes to condemning modern fashion. They don't just attack the clothes, they attack the person and make some rather ungentlemanly remarks about that person's supposed upbringing, thought patterns, manliness (rolling my eyes at that one), and so on.
I've been down this road. 'silverporsche' tries to bring his hip hop statement into every thread he posts in.
 

Brodirt

New Member
Jovan...Im anything but naive when it comes to sports history. While old school pros may have been protected from the public airing of their dirty laundry by the very press that today revels in it, Im thinking that while my dad and his generation looked the other way when Mantle drank too much or when DiMaggio threw a Chris Brown on Marilyn, or even my Grandfather excused Cobb his hateful crimes, those players never cheated the game or us out of an honest, hard day at work and for a hell of a lot less money.

Frankly, I have spent a fair amount of time the past few months pondering whether Baseball or our economy has been more fraudulent over the last 15 years.
 

Cruiser

Connoisseur
I often ask myself if the well dressed men seen in the stands of "classic" baseball would stand for the drama, histrionics and outright cheating of today's players.

So where does that put the infamous "Black Sox" scandal of 1919, the greatest scandal in the history of baseball? Even the modern day steroid dust up doesn't match up to the throwing of the World Series. But the men in the grandstands were well dressed. :icon_smile_big:

Cruiser
 

Brodirt

New Member
So where does that put the infamous "Black Sox" scandal :icon_smile_big:

Cruiser

Cruiser...I dont see how that compares to what is going on today. In fact, it is the polar opposite. A group of isolated players threw a series because their owner was an outright pig who manipulated, conspired, lied and cheated to screw them out of money he promised them. In the case of the Black Sox scandal Komiskey reaped what sewed.

In the case of today's players we likely have the vast majority of the league enhancing their performance for the sole purpose of lining their own pockets. All the while the owners turned a blind eye because while the players got rich, the owner's got rich as well. We the fan simply paid more and more. To really get me going on this ask me why since the saturation of cable tv the pay tv customer is, quite literally, forced to pay for baseball and contribute to the scam.

So where in 1919 you had an isolated incident...and in the realm of baseball history it stands almost entirely alone until Pete Rose, today you have the WWE on a grass field.

And boy they did dress well!
weaverandrisberg1921-a.jpg

above are Buck Weaver and Swede Risby of the 1919 White Sox. In Eight Men Out they were played by John Cusack and Don Harvey respectively.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Cruiser...I don't see how that compares to what is going on today. In fact, it is the polar opposite. A group of isolated players threw a series because their owner was an outright pig who manipulated, conspired, lied and cheated to screw them out of money he promised them. In the case of the Black Sox scandal Komiskey reaped what sewed....

Sorry Brodirt, your conclusions are flawed. While the players, by their actions, may have taught their team owner a lesson, it was their fans that they cheated...the same can be said regarding today's players, choosing to use performance enhancing drugs. In the end, it is the fans that they are ultimately cheating, in addition to discrediting the game. Bottom line...cheating is cheating is cheating! ;)
 
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