Showing Respect in Passing

Drawing of a Victorian man tipping his hat.
Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

These days we tend to walk through the streets with our heads down, afraid to interact with anybody. Why? It’s probably because we don’t know how to show the proper respect in momentary interactions and can’t expect to get it in return. There’s not much you can do about the latter, but this article should fix the former. 

The most important rule is to always give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Only an infinitesimal number of people are dangerous, although far more aren’t respectable. Of course, this doesn’t give much practical guidance but it’s a good starting point. 

You also can’t assume your business is more important than anyone else’s. You don’t know what they’re doing. For all you know, they’re on their way to present the perfect solution to crime, although that’s pretty unlikely. Don’t expect others to wait unnecessarily for you or to yield the right of way to you for no reason. 

If someone speaks to you, reply respectfully but don’t allow idle conversation with strangers to interfere with anyone’s business. If someone makes a request if you that only requires a brief pause then it’s advisable to oblige them, and it’s never a bad idea to give someone genuine help. Although you shouldn’t help people if it’s just going to make you feel good, so don’t give money to panhandlers since it’s most likely to be used to support a drug habit or a avoid contributing to society. 

If you make eye contact with someone in public then it’s extremely disrespectful to not acknowledge them. A nod of the head to a fellow man, a quick smile to a lady, or a wave is adequate, but if you’re wearing a hat you have better options. Touch the brim to acknowledge a fellow man or momentarily lift the hat to acknowledge a lady. If one of you is in the military or some other uniformed civil service then a salute may be appropriate, depending on local customs. 

Your speech around others must always be respectful, free of crude language and topics. Also, try to speak in the local language so people know your words aren’t disrespectful, and keep private topics in private. If you feel the need to play music then it needs to be inaudible or away from where others are likely to be, unless you’re busking. 

Those are all the rules that come to my mind for being respectful in superficial interactions. If you have recommended rules of your own or feel you can elaborate on mine, leave a comment. 

All Gentlemen Are Men But Not All Men Are Gentlemen

Sepia photo of men on the porch of a forest cabin.Reading what I write you can reasonably come to the conclusion that I believe a man must be genteel and refined, but that’s not the case. The truth is a man must have certain blue collar traits. In fact, it’s easier for our dirty and callous handed brothers to be men than the more delicate among us. Today I’m going to explore the difference between boys and blue collar men as well as the distinction of gentlemen and men. 

Unlike manliness, gentlemanliness can be turned off and on at will. It’s never an inherent part of who you are. It may take quite a lot of effort to develop initially but it can then be suspended when the need arises. Gentlemanliness is about etiquette, poise, and class, all optional in less refined company. Manliness is about taking on the hard jobs, doing the physical work, and defending and caring for others, none of which require refinement. 

As I’ve said before, a male who is not a man is a boy. Thus, a boy is by definition lacking in manliness. The difference between a boy and a crude man is that the man knows when to introduce gentlemanliness into his mannerisms. For example, no man would ever leer at a woman or otherwise reduce her to nothing more than a potential object of sexual pleasure. He acknowledges that a lady is a nuanced creature, with not only erotic potential but also the potential to be intellectual, artistic, and nurturing. More importantly, a man never attempts to exercise rights while rejecting the responsibilities that go along with them. 

That’s it, making the transition from boy to man doesn’t automatically make you a gentleman but it’s always worth pursuing. If you familiarise yourself with gentlemanly behaviours you can leave boorishness where it belongs, in the company of other men. If you’d rather avoid the refined world with its operas and cocktail parties, then all you need is the ability to not look the fool when it’s forced on you. 

Choosing Your Event’s Dress Code

Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

There are so many different types of events that one can host that choosing a dress code can sometimes be daunting. Sometimes, specific events may also have very specific dress codes. I’m going to help you decide, so far as practical concerns don’t decide for you. 

Formality

In many cases the only factor to determining dress code is formality. Sometimes there can be some disagreement on the formality of the occasion, but that’s not really something I can help you with. You want dress formality to match the formality of the event. If you expect your guests to agree on how formal the event is, then the dress code can go unspoken. 

Children’s Parties

Not surprisingly, children’s parties have two dress codes; one for the kids and one for the adults. For the kids the dress code should be whatever suits the party. The parents on the other hand, should dress at or below the level of the kids, preferably informal or casual.

 Cocktail Party

A cocktail party is at least informal. That means all the men should be wearing suits and all the women should be wearing cocktail dresses. 

Outdoor Parties

Most outdoor parties are pretty casual. The type of activities tends to force that. Some outdoor parties are more formal but those are usually for once in a lifetime events or a royal visit, which would probably still be once in a lifetime. 

Dinner Parties

Dinner parties can be quite casual but should usually skew formal. A good rule of thumb is to dress more formal if you’re use nicer china.

Once in a Lifetime

Once in a lifetime occasions should definitely be formal. You only get to do them once so you need to make a big deal out of it. 

Know Your Guests

More important than anything is to know your guests. They’ll likely be uncomfortable if you’re expecting them to dress outside of how they might otherwise. On the flip side, don’t adopt an excessively casual dress code either. Go with the most formal of what your guests will be comfortable with, unless it’s inappropriately casual for the nature of the event. 

Fashion Staples Every Man Should Have

A lot of men’s wardrobes seem to be nothing but jeans and t-shirts, but they still have no desire to expand it. I’m still in the process of expanding my own and through that consideration I’ve gotten some extraordinary insight and have come up with this list of fashion staples Every Man should have. 

Get ASAP

These are the things you really should have at the ready, regardless of what culture you live in, because you may need them on too short of notice to go shopping. 

Black Suit

A black suit is really irreplaceable. They almost form there own level of formality and to some people, including me, they’re the only thing that’s appropriate at a funeral. You’ll probably want to go with a two or three buttonsingle breasted jack with notch lapels. 

Dark Suit

A black suit isn’t always appropriate, especially in some cultures where they’re considered exclusively funeral attire. For that, reason, you’ll want to have a charcoal grey or navy blue suit in your closet for those other occasions. 

Dress Shirts

You need to have a variety of dress shirts to go with various outfits. Be sure to include at least one solid white shirt and several more of other solid colours. If you want to throw in some patterns, feel free, just keep the patterns subtle.

Ties & Pocket Squares

You’ll need these to complete your suits. They’re also the best place to add bold colours and patterns. 

Belts

I recommend having at least two belts. A woven fibre belt for street clothes and a leather one for casual and semi-formal. Your belt should match your shoes, so you may need more right there. You’ll also need more belts if neither of those work with some of the outfits in your wardrobe. 

Jeans

Blue jeans only. A man should only wear other colours of denim if he has a very good reason. The exact style and fit is a personal choice but every man should stay away from skinny jeans. 

Sweaters

I mean a variety of sweaters, from sweatshirts to wool crew necks. Every outfit you have should have a sweater to go with it.

T-Shirts

You’ll need t-shirts for cases where comfort should trump style. They can also be incorporated into casual outfits in some very expressive ways. 

Shorts

Most men don’t need many shorts, since they’re inherently so extremely casual. Whatever shorts you have should be approximately knee length and fairly loose.

Blazers

Every man should have at least one blazer. A classic navy blue is a good choice, but there are so many options that every man can have a blazer that perfectly suits. 

Sport Coats

In the same vein, every man should have some sport coats. A sport coat or two can be combined with virtually any outfit to create something classy but expressive. 

Trousers

In addition to jeans, shorts, and suit pants, every man needs some nice trousers. Jeans and shorts are often inappropriate and suit pants should only be worn with their matching jackets so they wear evenly. 

Coats

For obvious reasons, every man needs coats. After all, you don’t want to freeze to death, I hope. Exactly what coats you need depend on where you live but they should include coats to go with every outfit and all weather conditions. 

Shoes

Unless you never go outside, you need some shoes. If actually never go outside, start. You’ll want at least a pair of oxfords or derbies, a pair of canvas sneakers, a pair of athletic shoes, a pair of work boots, and a pair of hiking boots, in colours that match your belts and coordinate with your pants. It’s also a good idea to have sandals and some more unique dress shoes,like Chelsea boots. 

Hats

I’ve said it before, every man should wear a hat. For that you need to own some. Your want at least one casual hat, one informal hat, and one hat to go with your street clothes. You can’t have too many hats though so go nuts, just be sure to wear the appropriately. 

Sporting Attire

Since every man should be ready to play sports, he needs to have at least one appropriate outfit in his wardrobe. You’ll also want to have the traditional attire for any sport you play frequently and the uniforms for any organised team sports you play.

Sunglasses

You’ll likely want to have two pairs of sunglasses. For practical reasons, like sports, you’ll want to have some more rugged sunglasses but you’ll want some nicer ones too. Your standard sunglasses should be something with metal frames and black or mirrored lenses, like classic aviators. 

Traditional Attire

If you’re closely associated with a culture that has traditional clothing, like Scottish kilts or Japanese yukatas, you need to be sure you have that too.

Get When You Can

There are some things that you really should have in your wardrobe but you’ll almost certainly have time to shop for when you need them. 

Tuxedo

The classic tuxedo is the standard of evening semi-formal attire. It consists of black pants with a satin stripe on the outseams, a matching jacket with satin lapel facings, and a black bow tie and waistcoat.

Stroller

If you don’t know what a stroller is, it’s the daytime equivalent of a tuxedo. It includes a black suit jacket, grey trousers (usually striped or checked), and a four in hand tie and waistcoat (usually grey, black, or buff in colour).

Evening Dress

No, I don’t mean an actual dress. Evening dress typically refers to men’s evening formalwear. It’s identical to a tuxedo but with a tailcoat, and white waistcoat and bow tie. 

Morning Dress

Again, the daytime formal standard is very similar to its semi-formal equivalent. The only common difference this time is the use of a tailcoat. It also has more acceptable variation. 

More Hats

Naturally, when you have more outfits you may need more hats to go with them. For formal and semi-formal you’ll likely want to go with a bowler, homburg, and top hat. 

More Shoes

Again, adding outfits may necessitate adding more shoes to your wardrobe as well.


That’s my list of men’s fashion staples. I didn’t mention anything about uniforms because you either need them immediately or not at all. If you have anything to add to this list, feel free to add it in the comments.

Email Like a Gentleman

Man using manual typewriter.
Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

Email has been a pervasive communication method for years but we still can’t seem to agree on the etiquette. That’s created a world where it’s acceptable to not only to be impolite but downright insulting. Drawing in part on its predecessors, handwritten letters, I intend to develop a viable code of etiquette. 

Format

Properly formatting an email shows that you gave due attention to it, and thus have the appropriate respect for the recipient. 

The first email and first reply must be opened with an appropriate salutation, after that you can get right to the meat of the matter. What constitutes an appropriate salutation depends on the purpose of the email and your relationship with the recipient. In most cases, a more casual salutation like you would use in conversation is appropriate but salutations more like you would use in a letter are appropriate for more serious or affectionate emails.

The next portion is where you share any relevant background information. Don’t include anything irrelevant, you don’t want the recipient to feel like they have to sift through a tome to get the facts. The point is to demonstrate the relevance of the email and to make sure the recipient knows what they need to in order to formulate a response. 

The next section is for all the really important stuff. Here’s where you’d make a request, impart news, or engage in conversation. Be polite and maintain the tone of the email, but otherwise you can do whatever you want. 

End with some sort of signature or complimentary close. Whatever you use, it must include your name and the organisation you represent, if relevant. You can also include whatever other contact information you like as long as it’s appropriate for the recipient to use it to communicate with you in the future. 

Addressing an Email

An email should only be address to multiple recipients if you need to send an identical message to all of them and it’s appropriate for them to all know who it’s being sent to. For example; if you’re planning a meeting then emailing all the participants together is appropriate, but if you’re applying for jobs then you need to send each employer a separate email. If there are people who don’t need to be a part of the conversation but do need to be included in the paper trail then you can CC them, but never use BCC. 

The subject line should be a one line summary of the purpose of the email. Don’t use it to convince people to read the email, they should be doing that anyway. The subject line is best use to identify individual emails to check the information therein or follow up later. 

Reading Emails

It’s a sad commentary on our society that I need to explain this part, but I have to none the less. Every email must be read unless you already know that it doesn’t warrant a reply and contains no useful information, like all those Facebook emails. 

Every email should also be given the benefit of the doubt. Always interpret the message in the best way possible. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve received a reply that made it quite clear that they read something negative into what I said, and it usually ended up being quite insulting. 

Replies

There are only five cases where it’s not necessary to reply to a email;

  1. Replies to previous emails that make no request that warrants acknowledgement 
  2. Harassing emails, such as any form of spam
  3. Insulting emails
  4. Emails containing only information where there’s no reason to believe the sender is expecting any acknowledgement 
  5. The sender has asked that you not reply 

Some sort of reply should be sent within eight working hours of the email being sent. An automated reply is acceptable only if you’re unable to read your email for a predetermined period and it includes when that period will end, at which point the clock resets. The first reply can be a simple acknowledgement if it also includes when a more thorough reply can be expected and why it’s being delayed. 

Privacy

Anything included in an email must be assumed to be confidential unless stated otherwise. Unless it’s quite clear who has a right to know, it cannot be shared with anyone. 


That’s my suggestion for the etiquette we should apply to email. If you have any ideas of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. 

For when to use email see: Choosing the Right Communication Method

How to Serve Beer

Row of beer taps.
These days most men serve beer only one way, in a bottle, regardless of what would be most appropriate. I’m going to teach you how to serve beer properly, including the right way to serve a bottle. 

Choosing a Glass

Choosing a glass is more complicated than you might think. Many brewers sell branded glasses so those would be the most appropriate style, just don’t but a different beer in a branded glass. If you’d rather just have one or two sets of beer glasses then pilsner glasses or steins are pretty good choices. You should, however, leave your ornate steins for Oktoberfest, and never use plastic cups of any kind. 

Temperature

It’s not as intuitive as you might think. Most beers are best served chilled, but not all. If you do some research into your Beer of choice you may find out it should be served at room temperature, and that’s how you should serve it to guests who ask for it. For most beers, keeping the bottles in the fridge or on ice, the glasses in a freezer, or the keg in a nice kegerator, but never serve beer over ice. 

Bottles

The only acceptable way to expect your guests to serve themselves is with bottles. Keep the bottles in a nice beer fridge in your entertaining space or on ice in a nice bucket or cooler, especially if you’re outside, and make sure there’s a bottle opener close at hand. When you’re serving your guests, never hand them an unopened bottle. 

Casks & Kegs

If you want serve beer “on tap” then you’re going to need to Store it in casks or kegs. Kegs are more attractive and give a beautiful accent to a room and a unique tap to serve from. Kegs on the other hand are hideous. If you choose to use a keg then keep them out of view with a nice tap on the bar, or atop a kegerator that fits the room’s decor. 

Cans

Don’t, just don’t. Never serve beer in a can, unless you’re sitting around a campfire, possibly. 

The Pour

How you pour a beer is of great importance. If you do it wrong you’ll end up with a flat body and excessive head. Tilt the glass and aim for a spot just far enough from the rim so it doesn’t spill. Pour slowly and straighten the glass to keep it from spilling. If you do it perfectly you’ll end up with a noticeable head that’s so thin that tilting the glass enough to drink makes the body come through. 

Garnish

Most beers don’t call for a garnish, but some do. Only garnish a beer served in a glass, not a bottle. A beer with a notable citrus flavour, like a radler or white, are well served with an orange wedge on the rim. 

Corona

La más famosa de las cervezas mexicanas. Yes, Coronas have substantially different rules. Corona is only to be served in a bottle, with a lime wedge in the neck.

For The Ladies: Dressing Up


Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

I’ve written about how a lady should dress when she’s concerned about men’s opinions and dress formality but never both at once, so here it is. Today, I bring any interested ladies some guidance for dressing to meet the codes of dress formality.

Fit

Here’s one place where men’s and ladies’ dress codes work differently. The wider variety of options means very similar outfits can be different levels of formality. Fit is the main distinction here. Tighter tops and looser skirts are more formal than looser tops and tighter skirts, although the tightest should be reserved for younger ladies. The correct fit for pants and shorts is entirely based on style. 

Practical Attire

In the world of practical attire, form follows function. The priority is for your clothes to be suitable for your activities, no matter what you look like. This is where all athletic attire needs to stay. It’s also a good place for shorts to stay. 

Street Clothes

Street clothes are what you wear in the absolute most casual situations, like running errands. They’re also the most formal attire where shorts, sweatshirts, and t-shirts and all forms of tanks as top layers, are appropriate. 

Casual

When you get into casual then aesthetics take priority. This is also the point where it becomes important to pay attention to hair and makeup. Casual’s also the limit for pants. You can get a pretty good smart casual outfit with pants but you can’t get more formal than that. It’s also where you should leave the denim skirts and the like. 

Informal

Informal is where men would be wearing suits so it’s most appropriate for ladies to dress similarly, but with skirts and no ties. Simple dresses are also quite appropriate, as are dresses that are more elaborate but in a more trendy way.

Once again, there’s something that shouldn’t pass this level. This time it’s separate skirts and tops. If you’re trying to go beyond informal then you need to wear a dress.

Semi-Formal & Formal

Just like for men, semi-formal and formal attire for ladies is more uniform, but for ladies the difference between daytime and evening is more pronounced. The best thing for daytime semi-formal is a cocktail dress with about a knee length skirt. For evening semi-formal and daytime formal, an ankle length evening gown is best, and for the evening you should transition to a floor length ball gown. If you’re wondering what the difference is, go back to the section on fit and that’s a simple version. Just remember that added accents and better materials make a dress more formal. 
Another difference between men’s and ladies’ formalwear is that ladies should wear more elaborate attire to dress more formally. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves, even indoors, with more formal attire but you can put together a nice semi-formal or daytime formal outfit with them. 

Jewellery & Accessories

For the most part less is more when it comes to accessories, but it’s not quite that simple. When you want to dress more formal you should go a little bit further with jewellery than you normally would. Also, you want to reserve the elaborate and rough material purses should be reserved for your more casual outfits, and you may want to consider leaving your everyday carry up to your man for more formal occasions.