Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing*

People who say that South Africans are angry, are, to a certain extent correct. South Africans are unnecessarily angry. Most of the time too. I don't like grouping myself with the angry collective although at times, like today, I seem to fail to restrain myself and fall into anger mismanagement. This afternoon driving south on Margaret Mncadi Embankment (for those who don't what road that is, step your name change game up), slowly approaching Stalwart Simelane road, a truck came from the middle lane, drove straight into the driver and back doors. After that the truck continued trying to bull doze its way into the desired lane not aware of my vehicle obstructing its way. When the driver finally decided to stop the whole right side to my vehicle was dented and scratched. Door handle broken as well. Surprisingly at this point I was not angry at all. Just highly irascible. I'm late for work as it is and here, now, I have to deal with a trivial and avoidable situation.

My harping on about what the truck driver has done didn't solve anything. So I changed my strategy and decided to gather some of his personal and employment details. While doing this simple exercise, in the middle of a busy street, a car with three older, white gentlemen, stopped right next to me. The driver of that car decided to say "yes, it was your fault", pointing to me. He continued, "He was going that way, you were going in the wrong direction and ran into his truck", that's when I retorted with a sharp, emphatic, terse, "Excuse me." At that point he realised that I was not amused, at all. What followed was a "No man, I was just pulling your leg", a laugh from all the occupants, a smile from me, and the tension was diffused. To further engage me he asked in which direction the new airport was. I promptly directed him and they went along.

I realised after that that my reaction was toally unwarranted. There was no need to direct my frustration at him. Even if he was being facetious, a perfect gentleman would engage on his level or respond in jest to his banter. This led to me questioning myself as to why I seemed to have a short fuse in the midst of adversity. A short temper when faced with tough situations. After all it was just someone passing a comment. I always pride myself in looking the other way. Turning the other cheek. I strive to do this all the time. Today, however, I failed and I'm not proud of that. I always, and I say this with assurance, I always treat visitors from out of town with a lot more courtesy because, they are visitors, they do not know the area and, need everyones' help navigating their way around. The car driven by those gentlemen was licensed GP, meaning it was from out of town. The truck driver was a foreigner, a Swazi national. At the end of the day while writing out the police report we were making small conversation. Me telling him about the people I know from Swaziland. And him telling me about his family and his origins.

To be well dressed is not only an outside thing. It should definitely be  accompanied by impeccable manners. This was a lesson well learnt today.

* Taken from Professor Alice Walker: Steve Biko memorial lecture 2010.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Interview

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Lately I have been feeling like I should start preparing for an interview or two. I have none lined up, however being ready for when that opportunity arises is a starting point. And what better place to start than a dark, sometimes solid, conservative suit. That is your starting point when making that all important first impression. Bold, consistent, reliable, those are some of intangibles you want to convey with just your suit. I'm thinking that maybe I should make this a running series on job interview style and etiquette. It'll benefit a lot of us since I want to to use some of my personal experiences in interviews to illustrate what I am talking about. At least I'll be qualified to speak on something. For me though, the deal maker or breaker is...the handshake. But that's another post for another day

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Lavender Shirt Stylishly Executed

After my last post on the wonderful, understated but intriguing lavender shirt, I thought I would do another post showcasing it, worn in different styles. These images have only affirmed my love for this colour and prompted me to go out in search of this shirt over spring and summer. Gaze in admiration with me, won't you.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Rainy Season Begs for a Mack

During the upcoming rainy season, oh...! believe me the rain is coming, I can't think of a better way to keep the rain at bay other than a Mackintosh coat. As I sit and type this post, I know I have to make it a point to get myself one in either of the colours above. Beige/ Khaki or Navy. Having both will be more than a boon.

I appreciate its simple design. Buttons tucked away, long seamless line from top to bottom, no belts, epaulets or unnecessary additions. This is as simple as a coat can get. The image above, although just an image, illustrates to a certain degree the coat's waterproof qualify as well. Meaning you stay dry on the inside while the Mack takes care of the harsh elements on the outside. Wear it with jeans, a t-shirt and boots or on top of your suit. Either way you are sure to exude effortless style when enduring inclement weather. I would advise a style novice, since I am one myself, to forgo a trench and its apparent cantankerousness, and opt for a mack.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SUNglasses Don't Belong Indoors

I feel compelled to address this issue, as it seems to have gone unchecked for a while. The wearing of sunglasses indoors by celebrities is somewhat of a phenomenon. Trendy one at that. So pervasive it has permeated through strict social etiquette and filtered right down to the masses. This is just plain wrong though. Apart from the act appearing rude and thus inferring that the wearer is being evasive, I also wonder if one's vision is 100%. Sunglasses at an indoor basketball game, that's just not on. I don't think I'd be able to see anything clearly. How about celebrities or regular folk wearing them inside a club. The lighting is already dark, so how does wearing even darker glasses aid one's vision...? Sometimes being cool can be so vain and ostentatious. So unnecessary.

This act negates so many rules of social etiquette: Maintaining eye contact. Not wearing sunglasses at night. Doing this leads to even more foolish acts, such as: Wearing them on your forehead simply because you don't want to put them away. Or even more asinine, wearing them at the back of your head. In all these instances I don't see the practicality and aesthetic. Therefore in order to save yourself the embarassment wear sunglasses whenever and where there is sun. You'll fit in perfectly.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Lavender Shirt

Lately I've been thinking about this particular shade of shirt. I've just been engulfed in thought about it. I do have one, although very faded and worn out. I don't even consider it a part of my regular shirt rotation because it really serves me none. However I would like to draw your attention to this particular colour. It's versatility. I'm inclined to surmise that there was a time when men eschewed and dismissed this colour as feminine. Just like pink.

I've been reading a few articles, forums, opinion pieces, etc, on lavender shirst and most of them almost unanimously agree that it should never be worn with a purple tie. I don't know about that, because there are some combinations of lavender and purple that work. Avoiding however any solid shade in both the tie and shirt. Therefore a lavender shirt in gingham or window pane check will be combined with a purple pin dot tie. Think about it for a second, it actually goes.

As you can see the lavender shirt is not only relegated to solid colours but patterns exist that accommodate all kinds of sartorial tastes and preferences. The light candy stripe shirt above reflects a practical flirtation with a dark grey. A flirtation that would lead to a perfect marriage. A tie in the same shade will only mute the shirt and create a bland monochomatic look. Lavender begs for bold complements. The combination palette runs the gamut from navys, greys and even black.

The time is now to start exploring bright colours. Spring mandates it.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Wouldn't Do That Just Yet....

The mercury today at it's highest was an incredible 29 degrees celsius. I feel like this post is misplaced because of the current weather but experience tells me not to put all my winter coats away.

Spring in Durban is strange. Overcast skies. Cold days. Windy conditions. Constant rain. Generally it is unkind to those who want to rush and bust out their shorts, t-shirts and sandals. What's strange though is people's reactions when the weather takes on these cold and wet conditions, as opposed to the anticipated abundant warmth and sunlight.

Everything can be put away for next winter except a pea coat. A versatile item of outerwear that can be dressed up or down. What I appreciate most about a pea coat is the double breasted design. As a rule nothing else can be thrown on top of a pea coat. It always forms the last layer of an outfit, but for a scarf of course, which would form part of the coat's outer look. A personal preference in terms of length is the mid length pea coat. Just at the thigh. This works for casual or formal looks. I guess I could go on and on about this coat but the hot weather has greatly discouraged me.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three's a Crowd

My disapprobation of three button suits has lingered for a while. I really can't stand them. Simply because of the stiff, boxed in effect they project. Watch an episode of Generations, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Some of the designs are awesome, truly inspiring but, add 3 buttons then, in my opinion, the whole suit loses flexibility and appeal. My biggest gripe with this suit is the dwarfed lapel often caused by the high button stance. The top button, especially if the lapel is canvassed, forces it into a stiff kink, which doesn't allow for any compromise with regards to its unbuttoning. The top button has to be fastened.

This is what I mean by the stiff, boxed-in effect. Aesthetically it is not appealing and so much is diminished by the high button stance. One really can't wear a tie bar because the tie is probably held firmly in place by the top button. So much of the shirt and tie is submerged unde the jacket, even when the top button is undone. What I have discovered are three button jackets that have a roll. A roll of the lapel that effects a two button look when the top button is not fastened. The image above is attempting a three-roll-two but is failing, simply because the lapel is pressed and canvassed, which mandates that the top button is fastened.

This post however is not a total indictment of the three button suit. No, not at all. It is just a difference of opinion even in the light of evidence that three button suits can be tasteful and exceptional. I regret why I never took pictures but, last week I took suits to my tailor to have them tailored in a few places. The biggest challenge, which my tailor found really daunting, was the removal of the top button and adjusting the lapel so that it would be a three button jacket. I am eargerly awaiting the results and will showcase them once ready. There is also one more suit I forgot to take which is in a sapphire blue shade. Since it is a heavier fabric I will have it fixed for winter 2011.

The above image illustrates a perfectly done three button jacket with a roll. Now this is a jacket I would definitely acquire because it appeals to my sensibilities and tastes. Flexible and flattering at the same time.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Better: The Double Breasted Suit featuring Maxwell

Following Monday's post on how not to wear a double breasted suit, I promised to reprise this subject. This time showing Maxwell doing the double breasted suit in a different and, better way.


When it comes to buttoning on a double breasted suit, all you need button are the middle buttons. With the jigger's help the jacket is held firmly in place. Letting the bottom buttons loose gives you room for movement even in the most awkward positions.

The Pocket Square

This seemingly indispensible item can give a gentleman's look an immediate boost in terms of colour and breaking a monochromatic look. In this instance Maxwell gets points for the pocket square, however, it just adds to the monotony of the colour palette. Something bright would definitely draw one's attention away from the dominance of black.

Pattern Mixing

Mixing two patterns is something for the average style conscious man. Mixing three patterns, for afficionados. I appreciate the mixing of patterns here, the pin stripes and check shirt. Had the tie had a subtle pattern then it would've been the best in terms of pattern mixing. Converesly, one can say that the solid tie tempers the boldness of the suit and the busyness of the shirt.

Show The Right Amount of Cuff

It is said that the right amount of cuff to show under a jacket is 1 inch. Some gentleman go for more or less. In this instance Maxwell does it just right. The flow of the checked shirt continues on the cuffs, in case the jacket and its overwhelming lapels have hidden the shirt a little too much. Showing cuff is also pleasing to the eye when wearing a contrast collar and cuffs shirt.


It goes without saying how important double vents are on a double breasted jacket. There is a rule that says; a jacket must cover a gentleman's derriere, and this is true. As it is aesthetically pleasing to have your
posterior covered. I think vents are essential for men with a somewhat substantial derriere as well.
The vents accommodate this anomaly and the rest of you blends in with the suit.

Your Body has Contours

Let the double breasted jacket follow these contours. It's a must that a double breasted jacket be tailored at the waist, if this is done, then any man can pull it off. Whether bespoke, made to measure or off the rack, the waist must be tailored to a man's torso. This will accentuate the shoulders. Smaller men can also benefit from these dimensions and, a wide waistline is also tucked away neatly by the lapels.

And there you have it. The double breasted suit brought to you by yours truly and musician extraordinaire Maxwell. Good. Better. Best will come the day he reads Perfect Gentleman SA and employs all the knowledge on double breasted suits. For now, I will continue to support his music. Sure enough.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Style Guy Solves My Pocket Flaps Conundrum

There's a lot of information I look for in GQ magazine. The U.S version, that is. The South African version is quite informative however it doesn't measure up to it's predecessor. What I do want to talk about before I go hunting for the August and September issues, is a question I once posed to Mr. Glenn O'Brien, the Style Guy. The answer was presented by Mr. O'Brien in the July issue with Taylor Lautner on the cover.

In recent months I have wondered, to myself, why some gentlemen wear their jackets with pocket flaps inside or out. The Style Guy first delves into the history of jackets and, that they were all once without flaps. Then on to the origininator of pocket flaps, Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became Duke of Windsor. Then he moves on to the construction, uses and functions of pocket flaps. If your jacket can be worn with pocket flaps both in and out, then by all means wear it as you wish. Sports jackets however are different in that they are constructed and meant to be worn with the flaps on the outside. Tucking them in will be a style faux pas.

He never did get back to my email but I got the answer I was looking for anyway. Thank you Mr. O'Brien for your sound and practical advice.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.