Ask the Gentleman

Etiquette & Style Advice for the Modern Gent

 

Being a modern gentleman isn’t just about dressing well and knowing which dinner fork to use at a party, so we asked The Gentleman to chime in and answer the tough stuff. Here’s his expert advice on everything from job interviews to social media debates.

I have a job interview coming up and, of course, want to present myself well. That being said, is it necessary that I shave my beard?

Conventional advice calls for a completely clean-shaven face when interviewing, and you can certainly never go wrong taking that route. However, beards have become more socially acceptable in recent years, even in the workplace. If you are especially attached to your beard and would prefer to keep it while interviewing, both the employer and the condition of your beard need to be taken into consideration. Many corporate jobs have strict, more conservative dress codes. In this case, your best bet is to go ahead and shave (It’ll grow back, after all!). Other companies may not have rigid guidelines. Research the company you are interviewing with to see if they have any restrictions on facial hair. Remember, they’re looking for someone who fits the company image. If you ultimately decide to keep your beard, it must be properly maintained and should be paired with clean, pressed professional attire.

My fiancé and I are working on our wedding registry, and we’ve talked about adding a honeymoon fund. Is that considered tacky?

While this one is a bit controversial, the short answer is no, it is not tacky. Honeymoon funds have become more popular in recent years as the average age of those getting married continues to rise. Many couples already live together, meaning they don’t necessarily need a bunch of items to furnish a new home. If you want to register for a honeymoon fund, by all means, go for it. That being said, there are a few rules to follow. First, this should not be your only registry. Many guests, especially older ones, prefer to gift actual items. Make a registry with more traditional options, and when possible, register with a store that has an actual storefront. When registering for the honeymoon fund, give as much detail as possible and show what the money would be going toward. For example, list things like dinner for two on the beach, a spa treatment, or a skydiving excursion, as opposed to just asking for dollar amounts. Ultimately, the choice is up to the gift-giver, so give them options.

I meet a lot of people through work and social events. How can I make the best first impression?

It’s well known that it’s important to make a positive first impression because, well, you only get one. Back in the Middle Ages, shaking hands upon initial greeting became standard to show that neither party was armed. Today, a firm handshake is still the best way to initiate contact, but there are other actions you can take to make an even better first impression. Always wear a tasteful ensemble and introduce yourself clearly. When introducing someone you’ve brought along or connecting acquaintances in a social situation, make sure you introduce the man to the woman. (e.g. “Mrs. Beckman, this is Mr. Johnson.”) If you are at the office, introduce your acquaintances based on rank and importance, regardless of their gender. For instance, you would introduce an intern to the CEO (e.g., “Mr. Gates, I’d like to introduce our new intern, Josh.”).

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a nice pair of leather dress shoes. What is the best way to take care of them?

First off, congratulations! A nice pair of dress shoes will take you far, assuming you care for them properly. Whether your shoes are bal or blucher, slip-on or monk strap, you must take a few steps before you wear them. Begin by wiping them down with a warm sponge to make the leather more porous. Then, apply a waterproof solution to lessen general wear and tear. From there, it’s all about regular upkeep. Brush your shoes with a horsehair brush often to remove any dust and debris. Once every other week or so, apply a small amount of conditioning cream. Let that dry and absorb for a few minutes, then brush it with your horsehair brush. Lastly, buff your shoes with a clean cotton cloth to add extra shine. You should use shoe trees after each wear.

I often see my colleagues and family members engaging in arguments on social media, and I must admit, I participate from time to time too. Is there anything wrong with virtual heated debates?

Manners are not just for the dinner table! The things you do and say online help create your digital footprint, and you always want to make a positive impression on others. No one wants to constantly read negative posts or temper tantrums, and those sorts of posts can leave a sour taste in the mouths of others. If you are tired, angry, or just want to rant, consider waiting until the next day to see if you still feel as passionate about the touchy subject. Oftentimes, you won’t, and you will be glad you didn’t post out of impulse. In general, if there is a subject you are passionate about and want to discuss, talking with family or friends in person will provide a better outlet and a more beneficial discussion. If you can’t resist engaging in an online debate, be prepared to back it up with facts, and treat it as a two-way conversation, not an argument.

 

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