World of Avallone - Men's Fashion & Lifestyle

Do you have what it takes to be a Gentleman? February 05 2015

Manners. Etiquette. For some men, these words don’t belong in the same breath asmanliness. For them, etiquette and manners conjure up arbitrary lists of dos and don’ts, a nagging mother, or scenes of artificial formality, complete with images of bowing and scraping, the polishing of monocles, and a bunch of treacly, “How do you dos?” and “No, after yous!”

It wasn’t always so. Our forbearers saw no contradiction in being ruggedly manly and a refined gentleman. For centuries, well-bred men were trained in all the manly arts, from the skills needed to be a soldier to the proper etiquette for dinner parties. They were quintessential gentlemen—dapper in dress, polite in conduct, and yet every bit a true man.

George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Robert E. Lee are some examples of men who combined gritty manliness with gentlemanly bearing. They paid attention to how they dressed, groomed, and conducted themselves and were as comfortable at a stately ball as they were on the battlefield. For these great men, having good manners did not make themless of a man, but more of one.

This is because they saw good manners in the way Edward John Hardy, author of Manners Makyth Man, defined them: as “little morals,” “the shadows of virtues, if not virtues themselves.”  If character was the root of inner manliness, then manners were the outer fruits that sprouted from the tree – the external behaviors and code of conduct that naturally followed from a life of virtue. These great men understood that while it is true that the rules of etiquette change over time and from culture to culture, the underlying principles of all manners remain constant: a respect for others, and a desire to treat all people with honesty and consideration – just as you’d like to be treated.

Still unconvinced? First let’s take a more specific look at some misconceptions about manners, and then at the reasons you should cultivate them.

What Good Manners Are Not

A young man’s negative opinion on manners sometimes springs from observing others practice them badly. But these are not true manners, for:

Good manners are not stiff, formal, or awkward. Good manners should come off as entirely natural. Some young men, knowing this and not wanting to seem like they’re trying too hard, swing the opposite way, and try so hard to be “natural” in their manners that they come off as even more contrived! Real naturalness comes from a few things:

  • Forgetting yourself and concentrating on others. The more you focus on making others comfortable, the less self-conscious you will feel, and the more comfortable you will become yourself.
  • Catering your behavior to the crowd and event in which you find yourself. Your manners should be more formal when visiting the White House than when eating at Chili’s.
  • Practice. Good manners shouldn’t be something you cram for in emergencies like studying for an exam. Rather, they should be a habit you develop through practice over time, like a leather coat that gets softer, more comfortable, and better-looking the more you wear it.
  • Cultivating an inner sense of character. This is most important. At its root, naturalness in manner springs from your sincerity and desire to treat people well for the right reasons; as mentioned above, it should be a natural extension of your character. Even if you do end up being a little awkward, if it comes from a sincere place, people will be very forgiving of it.

Good manners are not ostentatious. Good manners should never be showy or call attention to themselves. In fact they should not even be immediately noticeable in the moment and instead should create an overall positive impression, which the people with whom you interact only reflect on later: “I really enjoy his company.” “I had such a good time at his party.”

Good manners are not smug and judgmental. You don’t practice good manners to feel superior to others or to wield them as a club, policing people’s behavior.  As Charles Dickens once wrote: “My boy,” said a father to his son, “treat everyone with politeness—even those who are rude to you. For remember that you show courtesy to others not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one.”

Why Practice Good Manners?

Good manners give you confidence. Much of what constitutes good manners consists of common sense. Yet common sense can often fail us when we’re nervous, in unfamiliar territory, and just winging it. Look at manners as the signposts along the broad highway of common sense, guiding you in how to act and react in any situation, without veering off and getting lost in the thickets when you’re not sure what to do.

Good manners make a positive impression on others. A man with good manners makes enjoyable company, a welcome party guest, a referable contact, a trusted employee. Good manners attest to a man’s self-respect and self-control, qualities that apply to all areas of life. Plus, as good manners are in such short supply these days, they instantly put you head and shoulders above other young men out there.

Good manners add texture to life. In our day-to-day lives, we often just move from one thing to another, as each day bleeds into the next. Thus from time immemorial people have sought a break from the ordinary by creating festivals, rituals, special occasions. But special occasions aren’t special if we behave and dress exactly as we do in our everyday lives. Manners provide a unique texture to our lives, and contribute to adding a special atmosphere to special events – the solemnity of a funeral, the pomp of a wedding, the grace of a baptism, the significance of a graduation, even the escape of a movie. At the same time, creating this atmosphere is a community effort –with the guy in a t-shirt and shorts, the ringing of a cell phone, or the man walking in late, the spell is broken.

Good manners make things in life smoother, more pleasant, and more comfortable for everyone. Ironically, manners both add texture to life, and make our interactions smoother. Many old etiquette books described manners as the substance that “oils the creaking wheels of life.”  While we’d like to think that left to our own devices, everything would just flow naturally between people, without any guidelines on how to act – who does what and when – a whole lot of awkwardness and impoliteness ensues.

Good manners make other people feel comfortable. Ever been at a dinner where a guy brought up embarrassing stories from someone’s past, or insisted on pontificating about politics? Have you ever been with a friend who started talking to someone who was a stranger to you, but never stopped to introduce you to him, leaving you standing there awkwardly? “For what is a good manner?” William John Hardy wrote, “It is the art of putting our associates at their ease. Whoever makes the fewest persons uncomfortable is the best mannered man in the room.”

Good manners ultimately show respect for others. Do you like to wake up early to meet someone, only to have them be 20 minutes late? Do you enjoy it when your friend throws a tantrum after losing a round of golf? Would you like it if you made $2.50 an hour, busted your butt serving people, and then got stiffed on a tip? Do you appreciate being interrupted while you’re speaking? No? Then live the heart of good manners: the Golden Rule. Treat others with the same respect you’d like to be treated with.

In summary, good manners make life richer and more enjoyable for you and for others. Unfortunately, many young men are raised with very little guidance on the proper manners to cultivate for different areas of their lives. The good news is that good manners can be learned by any young man no matter his background (and by any older man, no matter his age).

The 45 Essential Rules of Men’s Dress December 31 2014

As many of you know, style is relative, which leads to a situation where there is no single list of men’s dress rules that are all-encompassing and without exception. However, the following is a list of dress rules that Avallone stands by. Some of these rules are without exception, such as not wearing a crew neck undershirt when the top button of the shirt is left unbuttoned. Other rules have exceptions, like the rule that a man’s socks should match the color of his pants. The rules presented here are taken from many different sources including tradition, classic men’s dress rules, and personal taste.

  1. Match the metal of the bit on your loafers, belt buckle, suspenders, blazer buttons and cufflinks.
  2. You do not need to match the metal on your watch with the other metals you are wearing, however, it is preferable.
  3. You can wear black shoes with a navy suit/pants.
  4. One must only wear black, brown or oxblood (burgundy) leather shoes for business dress.  The only exceptions allowed are white bucks.  Blue, green or any other colored shoes are inappropriate.
  5. One shall match the color of his socks with the color of his pants.  As an exception, socks can be matched to something worn above the waist such as a man’s shirt, tie, pocket square or suspenders.
  6. One must match the color of his belt to that of his shoes.  This holds true in all situations except when wearing white bucks.
  7. You do not need to match the leather on your watchband with that of your shoes and belt, however, it is preferable.
  8. Wear a belt when wearing pants with belt loops.
  9. Never, ever, ever use your belt to hold accessories like beepers, phones, Blackberrys, ID tags and/or keys.
  10. If pants do not have belt loops they should have side tabs and/or  buttons for use with suspenders.
  11. You shall never wear a tie and pocket square of the same pattern.  The talking heads that do this on television look like fools.
  12. One must not wear a French cuff (double cuff) shirt without a jacket.
  13. You must always doubt salespeople and in-store tailors opinions on fashion, style and fit. The stores they work for pay them, not you.  Their motives are to sell products to who will buy them, not necessarily to who will look best in them.
  14. You must not wear slip on shoes with a suit.  In fact, they should be avoided.
  15. Never wear flat toe/square toe shoes.  They should be avoided like the plague.  They are cancerous to a man’s wardrobe.  They are aesthetically offensive.  Their sole purpose lies in showing men what not to wear. 
  16. Patent leather shoes are only for black tie (semi-formal) and white-tie (formal) occasions.  Patent leather is never acceptable to be worn in a dress or causal setting.
  17. Never wear a long necktie for a semi-formal (black tie) affair, even if that tie is solid black.
  18. You can wear brown suede shoes for business dress.  They are elegant and gentlemanly.
  19. Do not wear Chesterfield coats, which are typically signified by a velvet collar, with anything of less formality than a suit.  They should not be worn with business casual attire.
  20. Do not wear a tie without a jacket.  If done so, you will run the risk of looking like a waiter at TGI Fridays.
  21. Do not wear suspenders without a jacket. 
  22. Only wear suspenders that utilize buttons, not clips. 
  23. Do not wear a crew neck undershirt when the top button of a shirt is left unbuttoned.  When leaving the top button unbuttoned you must wear a v-neck undershirt.
  24. One can wear brown suits for business dress.
  25. Only wear shirts with white collars and white cuffs with a jacket.  These shirts should not be part of a business casual wardrobe, that is, one where suits are not utilized.
  26. Leave the bottom button of vest (waistcoat) unbuttoned.  Except when wearing a double breasted or flat bottomed vest, in which case the bottom button should remain buttoned.
  27. Iron the collar of a shirt before wearing it.  Creased collars caused by dry cleaning and hanging do not follow the natural circularity of one’s neck.
  28. Utilize a pocket square when wearing a jacket.
  29. Pocket squares are underrated, underutilized and most importantly they are awesome.
  30. Do not wear a shirt with any type of logo on it in a business setting, including when in business casual dress.  These shirts should be reserved for casual wear.
  31. Wear your tie bar at a slant, not horizontal.
  32. Off color shirts with a white collar should have French (double) cuffs, regardless of whether or not the cuffs are white or the same color or pattern as the shirt.
  33. Life is more fun in a tuxedo (dinner jacket).
  34. Never button all three buttons of a three button jacket. Sometimes the top, always the middle and never ever ever the bottom.
  35. Wear over the calf socks as opposed to crew socks whenever possible.  They are far superior in both form and function.
  36. Do not wear a solid black suit for business or professional activities.  Save it for formal events and funerals.
  37. Style is a state of mind.
  38. It is impossible for a man to be considered well-dressed if his shoes are in poor taste or of noticeably poor quality.  Any good ensemble is built on a fine pair of shoes.
  39. Do not wear sport sunglasses with a suit.  It’s like wearing socks with sandals; everyone else knows its wrong, why don’t you?
  40. Do not wear a sports watch with a suit.  It would be like playing lacrosse in dress shoes, and no one wants to see that.
  41. There should be no presence of logo or branding when wearing a suit.  For example, do not wear a Polo shirt with the Polo logo on it under a suit jacket or a Burberry tie with the Burberry tartan (although the scarfs are fine).  The emphasis of a suit should be the fit, not the brands it is worn with.
  42. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. A man does not need an excuse to wear a tie or jacket.  In other words, a man does not need an excuse to dress up.  Despite the fact that in today’s society it seems he does need one.
  43. Never, ever, ever wear a black dress shirt with a suit (or a dinner jacket/tuxedo for that matter).  Just because they may be or may have been ‘on trend’ does not mean one will ever look good on you.
  44. Take off your sunglasses when talking to someone else who is not wearing sunglasses, unless you are at the beach or pool.
  45. Take off your sunglasses when inside. 

Manners Make the Man December 26 2014

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals. Respect for others guide our manners.”

-Being Caballero

Most of us have seen or met someone, be it a lady or a gentleman with manners that appear so second nature to him or her that you couldn’t imagine that person any other way. These experts on all the finer points of etiquette exuded proper elegance merely with their presence. They never seem to need to raise their voice to get anyone’s attention or lift a finger to define their intent and yet, they possess a glaze so powerful that it could easily burn a hole through a brick wall, much less your soul, or a smile so comforting they could get away with murder. The secret behind such power and influence is quite simple: manners.

Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society and the greatest accessory any man can have after his confidence, something to be discussed on a later date. The reality is that good manners, combined with a confident smile will open more doors that money or power ever can. The same way the Samurai turned bowing into an art and the soldier turn the salute into a precision science, manners show a person’s discipline and principals with every action. It’s these small details that will define you as a Gentleman more than any suit can, although the suit does help immensely.

Manners are not about what fork to use or about how to hold your glass of wine. That’s etiquette. If etiquette is the science of proper behavior, manners are the art of social interaction. Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. It means you care enough about those around you that you respect them. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, regardless of how far you bowed or if you picked the wrong knife. Your actions and behavior must reflect your principals. If you don’t believe in them and are simply repeating pre-practiced actions, they will look forced, fake, and even insulting to any onlooker.

No amount or power of money is a substitute for proper manners and no suit can hide a person’s vulgarity

Holding the door open to the next person in line, helping an old lady carry her groceries or letting a lady pass; these are not signs of superiority or inferiority, but rather of manners and respect, for yourself and for the other person. It’s all about being considerate.

Many people today have chosen to ignore even the slightest consideration to social behavior, assuming that, for example, their financial status will compensate for this lack of consideration or that manners are a sign of weakness in a society dominated by egoism and vulgarity. In either case, the lack of manners simply demonstrates a lack of social understanding, and further more a true dislike of self. No amount of power or money is a substitute for proper manners and no suit can hide a person’s vulgarity.

Proper manners and behavior not only show off who you are as a person, but actually have the effect of enhancing how you present yourself, your image, the message already presented to others by your style. Consider this next time you dress up, or simply go out. Remember that no accessory you wear will cause an impression as favorable on others as proper manners.