What The Hell Is A Cummerbund Actually For?

Dressing For Dinner (3).png

Men’s fashion is an ever changing thing. Actually that’s not true. Its very rare that you see something new in menswear, it is a very cyclical thing, for example skinny fit jeans were a thing in the 80’s and unfortunately have been back in style for the last few years. Another example is double breasted jackets, they come and they go and then suddenly a few years later they’re back.

One of the few unchanging things throughout the last hundred years has been black tie. Since it became popular in the 1920’s as a slightly less formal alternative to white tie, very little has changed except fastening (double or single breasted), lapel size, and material the only real change we saw was from waistcoats to cummerbunds, and this is one of those things that goes round and round and round, one year waistcoats are in fashion for black tie, and the next its cummerbunds.

Now as a gentleman with a fairly substantial gut I have been put off wearing a cummerbund as it seems like tying something around my waist would only extenuate this fact, but two weeks ago I gave in, faced my fear and bought my first cummerbund. Admittedly I only got it because I wanted the bow tie that it came with, it was a vintage (that is to say secondhand so therefore cheap) maroon velvet number from the 1970’s that came with a matching bow tie.

ad6da4dc1975a719c202388bf7a0af92.jpg

It did however make me think, what the hell is point of a cummerbund, they don’t offer any practicality like a waistcoat, but then neither do most of the fundamentals of black tie and men’s formal wear in general, in fact they’re designed to mask practicality. For example buttons on jackets and waistcoats will have a satin facing, shirt buttons are replaced by cuff links and shirt studs, and even trouser lining is covered with a satin stripe. So in that vain a cummerbund is designed to conceal the point where your trousers meet your shirt.

This is where cummerbunds differ from a lot of black tie, because it actually serves a purpose, the garment dates back to the British occupation of India, where the officers needed a cooler (temperature wise, not fashion wise) alternative to the waistcoat. Due to the massive temperature difference from the UK you could see why waistcoats wouldn’t work out too well, and the higher ranking Indian officials used to wear sashes at their waists so the British officers adopted them, and so by the end of the British Occupation of India in the 1950’s the trend has spread around the world.

As well as being a cooler alternative to the formal vest the cummerbund serves to hide the bunching that often occurs where you tuck your shirt in at the waist. And thanks to its pleated design acts as a crumb catcher when eating, thus avoiding any crumbs winding up on your trouser leg, and this is why the correct way to wear a cummerbund is with the pleats facing upward.

Possibly the most important feature, at least from my point of view, is that it makes men look a lot thinner, aesthetically it makes men look thinner and taller, but from my own experience I had it cinched so tight it was like some sort of velvet man girdle.

Now I don’t see them making a comeback for at least a few years, as waistcoats are most definitely “in” at the moment, but I have a few formal things coming over the summer months (a couple of weddings and most likely a few civic things as well) so I think I will be going with a cummerbund, at least until the summer is over.

Crimes Against Fashion That Should Be Tried At The Hague

Dressing For Dinner (1).png

Knitted Ties

cl03003_blackcharcoal_rolled_11

Ties are meant to be for business or for formal occasions, knitted says neither, it says my Nana made it for me. I mean a knitted jumper is ok, they’re at least functional, but the kitted tie is just ugly.

Baseball Caps

Baseball Cap

They just look stupid, I don’t know what it is about them that I don’t like so much, maybe its that most are festooned with some sort of advertising that you’ve been duped into paying to display, which is still advertising, even if they do call it merchandise.

V Neck T-Shirts

download.jpg

Nothing screams douche bag louder that a V neck tee. Why they’ve become so popular I don’t know, is it to show off that you get your chest waxed? Or is it to show that you go to the gym? Maybe its just because I’m stuck with the rugged (hairy) dad bod (surely that should be father figure?) that I don’t like them, but honestly I just want to hit people when they rock up somewhere in a low cut t-shirt and skinny jeans I mean seriously make some effort.

Male Uggs

dudes-uggs-stool-smiling

They’re women’s shoes designed for little effort, need I say more.

Wicker Shoes 

7243445519_z1

These things are just hideous, and so impractical, they would last 1 minuet against the British elements, but at one point these were the height of fashion. Its like the mullet of menswear, you have to wonder why it was ever a thing. If anyone still owns a pair of these please dispose of them responsibly (don’t donate them to refugees, they have enough problems).

Crocs

10001_4O5_ALT140.jpg

Chefs and doctors alike wear these because they don’t slip and apparently are comfortable as hell, but even so, No. Just No.

All of these are just a no. So don’t do it. Any of them.

The 20’s For The 21st Century

Dressing For Dinner.png

I was watching an episode of Jeeves and Wooster earlier today, and aside from the sardonic wit and deadpan delivery of Jeeves, and the good natured ineptitude of Bertie, what I love most about the show is the fashion. The 1920’s in Britain were possibly the high point of the 20th century fashion wise (in the upper middle and upper classes at any rate).

Here are some of the things I loved most fashion wise from the 20’s:

Double Breasted Waistcoats: 

download

Double breasted waistcoats are just so much more elegant than single breasted, from my own experience, there is less obvious straining against the buttons if you’ve had a big lunch and the symmetry actually serves to make you look a little slimmer, not to mention the cut of the waistcoat itself compliments the look of the outfit by blending into the trousers rather than leaving a little visible shirt.

Double Breasted Suits

download (1).jpg

In general double breasted is the way to go if you don’t seem able (or willing) to shift a bit of stomach, the cut is more flattering to the larger gentlemen, but is also warmer too, and whether worn with a waistcoat or not is always a classic look that the 1920’s were really all about, because it was the decade that a lot of long lasting trends came into existence and Double breasted suits are something that seems to fade in and out of fashion over the years, but I would much rather a decent double breasted blazer than some of this slim fit crap that people try to pass off as suits these day’s.

Black Tie

download (2).jpg

Black tie is one of those things that has never gone out of fashion, and while it was around before the 1920’s it really took off in Britain in the 1920’s replacing the more formal white tie and tails black tie is something that hasn’t really changed much in the last 100 years, collars and lapel sizes shapes change all the time and the old argument of waistcoat or cummerbund still rages on, but its essence is still the height of chic in menswear (even if the jacket and tie are velvet).

Walking Sticks/ Canes

download (3).jpg

I sometimes carry a cane, especially if my gout is playing up, the one I use has a bronze handle, and the amount of comments I get about it are unbelievable, from asking if there’s a sword concealed within to the more personal whether I actually need it (the answer is I have a cane because I need a cane, I have that particular cane because it looks bad ass).  But for the 1920’s a great deal of men about town of my age and social standing would carry a walking stick during the day, and then have a more formal one for once they’d dressed for dinner.

White Tie 

2008_after_six_black_full_dress_lg.jpg

Although it was starting to be phased out during the 20’s for the less formal, more comfortable black tie, white tie was for the most formal occasions, and rarely exists to this day (I’ve been to one white tie event in my life) its for things like sate banquets, and formal halls and the most strict universities and is often shown on things such as Downton Abbey, and its one of those things that I hope makes a comeback.

Hats

1920s-mens-hats-at-vintagedancer-com-300x292

I like how (certain) hats look, but I cant seem to pull off any hat, and lord knows I’ve tried. But in the 1920’s every one seemed to wear hats while they were out and about, from flat cap and straw boater, to fedora and top hat, hats were well represented by men of every class. And men of all classes knew to take them off when going indoors, it really annoys me seeing people wearing hats indoors, especially baseball caps, I don’t know whats worse, the lack of manners or lack of fashion sense.

Dressing For Travel 

images.jpg

This one seems like such a simple thing, but whether its because travel has become quicker and easier or just because the novelty has worn off, but people don’t dress to travel anymore, in the 20’s for a member of the lower classes to travel was a big deal, so they would dress to impress, but the upper classes, especially men would wear something that would travel well, but it wouldn’t matter so much if they go a little bit of the road on it. so something like a tweed suit would be rather practical, especially if travelling by train.

So those are some of my favourite fashion trends of the 1920’s I would like to see quite a few of them make a comeback if you couldn’t tell. Anyway I hope you found this little guide informative, or at the very least have found it entertaining.

How To Look A Million Dollars, When You’re Worth About £2.80

The Man Down My Local (25).png

They say that looking good comes naturally, but dressing well takes a massive bank balance. I have often found this to be the case. A decent suit will cost in excess of £200, a good pair of shoes will set you back to almost 3 digits and that doesn’t even begin to factor in the cost of, shirts, boxers, socks and various other accessories that you need in order to look like a functioning member of the human race. It isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap, to get a wardrobe from the pages of GQ. Here are some tips that should help ease up the burdens on those purse strings.

  1. Online Tailors: Using online tailors can save you an absolute fortune, to get a tailored suit in the UK, from scratch will cost you over £200, but using an online tailor, usually from the far east, you can get a completely bespoke, made to measure suit from as little as £35.
  2. charity shops: Vintage is always in, and charity shops are a great way of finding those vintage threads for rock bottom prices, to be honest, you may spend days routing through charity shops trying to find that one amazing item, and a lot of the time you will come away empty-handed, but its an immeasurable feeling when you do find that piece that is just you.
  3. Up-cycling: Sometimes you just give in and buy that hideous jacket from the charity shop, purely out of social embarrassment, Brenda behind the counter has been eyeing you since you walked in, so you snap and buy the old blazer in your size. So now in order to make this purchase wearable, you should have the thing seriously dry cleaned to get it looking as good as it ever will, then add a few elbow patches, change the buttons for some extra little bit of flash, and see if maybe you can add some sort of crest to the breast pocket and then you’ve actually got yourself something straight from the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly.
  4. Cheaper Alternatives: Sometimes you’ll want those £4000 Brioni shoes, but lets face it, why on earth would anyone pay that massive amount for a pair of shoes? Especially when you can get a pair that look pretty damn similar for less than 1% of the cost? I mean outside of a Milanese fashion show, or a Parisian runway who’d notice?
  5. Hair care: Regular haircuts and styling your hair can go a long way to imposing your look on the world, being well turned out, with a haircut you could set your watch by is certainly a way to look like the proverbial big spender, even if you are only getting a £10 haircut once a month and using a Tesco value gel to style it between cuts.
  6. Grooming: Trim that beard, clip those nails, and for god sake pluck those eyebrows. Shave every two days, if you have a beard, define the edges regularly and don’t forget to moisturise. Use teeth whitening toothpaste and for the sake of everyone around you, please use an antiperspirant style deodorant especially if you use public transport, but remember no deodorant should ever replace a regular shower, even with 72 hour protection.
  7. Cologne: Use a nice smelling cologne, it might not make you look any better, but as any blind person will tell you, smell is a distinctive part of your image.

Hopefully these tips will help you to maintain or improve your personal look and even if you don’t quite hit the million dollar mark, at the very least you’ll probably look better than the 50 pence you feel like.

Why Men Should Moisturise

The Man Down My Local (24).png

Over the past few weeks I’ve upped my skincare game. That is to say I now have a skincare game. I’ve started using moisturiser daily. And I have to say, over the past two weeks I’ve noticed a real difference, and I wish I started years ago.

As a former smoker, and someone who drinks a little more than is good for him, my skin is pretty awful, but it took a little bit of flaking skin on the bridge of my nose to actually get me off my arse. I don’t really know why it took me so long, its probably because of the ingrained view that its effeminate or unmanly, or blah blah blah. Whatever. Here are a few reasons to try it.

  1. If you smoke or drink, you will do immeasurable damage to your skin, as both vices, whilst fun, will dehydrate your skin massively.
  2. If you spend a lot of time outdoors the harmful damage from UV rays can at least be tempered by using a moisturiser with some sort of UV protection in it.
  3. It helps fight acne. Don’t let anyone fool you and say that acne stops after puberty, because it doesn’t, it might not be as bad, but every once in a while, usually before a hot date or big meeting, you’ll wake up with a corker of a zit. Now I’m not saying moisturiser will put an end to these woes, but defence is the best type of offence.
  4. It helps fight wrinkles, I know older guys look better, I mean I’ve definitely got better since leaving my teens, but there is a point where silver fox becomes silver sphinx cat, so try and delay that as long as possible.

Those are just some of the many reasons why men should use moisturiser. So stop delaying and start using the damn stuff. It doesn’t even have to be expensive stuff, a tube of pound-land special will do, I mean no one is expecting you to go out and get a £1000 vial of stuff made from the placenta of grass fed angora rabbits raised in the shadow of the Swiss alps, but at least use the stuff that comes with the shaving kit your auntie got you for Christmas.

 

Quotes To Make You Look Smartified

Quotes To Make You Look Smartified.png

Quoting from literature is a key way to make yourself appear to be well read. Quotes from poems, plays, novels and various other literary ephemera can spice up your conversation and make you seem well read, so here are a few quotes, from a variety of sources, that all men should familiarise themselves with. They should also learn them by heart, because I can’t tell you the amount of arguments that have arisen from one misplaced word in a Shakespeare quote (ITS ” I KNEW HIM HORATIO” HOW IS THAT SO HARD TO GET”).

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet, Act II, scene ii From William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.

“Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most must mourn the deepest o’er the fatal truth,that the Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.” Act I scene i from Lord Byron’s Manfred.

“England has done one thing; it has invented and established Public Opinion, which is an attempt to organize the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force.” Part II, The Critic As Artist, Oscar Wilde. 

“From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone ” Alone, Edgar Allen Poe.

“I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: — Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley.

“The offences that one does a man should be should be such that he fears no revenge for it.” The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli. 

“Every tradition grows ever more venerable — the more remote its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe.” Human All To0 Human, Friedrich Nietzsche. 

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.” War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy 

” A soundbite never buttered any parsnips” John Major

“Take it from me, there’s nothing more terrible than someone out to do the world a favour.” Sourcery, Terry Pratchett 

Hopefully some of these should enrich your conversational prowess, and make you seem a tad more loquacious and erudite.

 

A Gentleman’s Guide To Dick Pics

A Gentleman's Guide To Dick Pics (1).png

Don’t, that should be the only guidance you need when it comes to sending a picture of your junk to someone. Several months ago I received a text, from what I hope was a wrong number, the text said something along the lines of “hey baby, good to meet you last night” and then underneath it was a picture of a penis, a fairly small, particularly hairy penis. My response was to reply to the chap “I think you have a wrong number, however if you’re going to start a dialogue with a young woman by flashing your gentiles I would invest in a body hair trimmer, some decent lighting and make use of the zoom function on your camera.

It made me think though. Do women get this a lot? Why and how has this become acceptable behaviour? I mean to send an unsolicited picture of your gentiles is right up there with flashing someone on the street, the only difference is the overcoat. I mean I could sort of understand if the other person asked for a picture, but even then I wouldn’t go for it.

Surely people aren’t all that easy, surely there should be some mystery, I mean I don’t delude myself by demanding wine, roses and limousines, but I’d like to think someone would work a bit harder to see me naked than “send nudes”, I mean I know I would.

Putting aside the easiness of sexual morals that have come with the internet age, there are the practical concerns of blackmail and or revenge porn. Now by pressing send, an ex with an axe to grind could potentially ruin a career and a personal life all in one fell swoop. There are already a growing number of documented cases of suicides as a direct result of this sort of thing.

This is why it’s safer to avoid the whole thing, even if asked for, have some self respect and say no, if your charm and personality aren’t enough for your intended, chances a junk snap isn’t going to sway them over, especially premanscaping and with unflattering lighting.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Handbags

The Man Down My Local (19).png

If you, like me, are a heterosexual man then you too will have no idea about handbags (purses for those across the pond), to you they will be mystical, bottomless things that can hold almost anything, including holding you up whilst the woman in front of you rummages and rifles through her hers trying to find that one thing in that bottomless abyss, that it would have been easy enough to find while queuing.

Now I didn’t know this until I started researching this piece, but apparently there’s more than one type of handbag out there, so here is a guide to the differences, so when your wife, girlfriend, daughter, flat mate etc asks where whatever type of bag is, you’ll know what the hell it is she’s talking about.

Tote: When I hear the word tote bag I automatically think of one of those canvas things they seem to give out at business expo’s or community events, but it actually means a medium to large bag with two straps and an open top, it’s the kind of big bag that women carry and seems to be filled with anything and everything usually all at once

I_237783801_01_20160504.jpg
Tote Bag

Cross-body: as the name suggests it consists of  one long strap that crosses over the body, with the bag resting at the front by the waist, a little like a messenger bag

fea9e5e8e4cf306f01550bac2bdf5ac8
Cross Body Bag

.

 
Sling bag: one long, wide strap that crosses over the body, with the bag resting on the back, sizes and shapes vary but it is one of the more common types of bag used by todays young ladies.

miss-fiorelli-white-and-tan-women-sling-bag-mfh-0302
Sling Bag

Shoulder bag: any bag with shoulder-length straps, the name really speaks for itself.

gucci_embellished_leather_shoulder_bag
Shoulder Bag

 

 
Clutch: A clutch is a bag without handles, its more formal than most, and from a mans point of view looks like an oversized wallet. They barely hold anything and at the end of a night out it usually winds up as part of interesting juggling act involving a pair of stilettos and a donner kebab and it’s always an amusing activity to see which winds up on the floor first, the shoes, the bag, what passes as the food or the person carrying them.

sac-a-main-sac-bandouliere-pochette-femme-en-satin-pour-soiree-2016-1024x1024
Clutch

 

Gentleman I really hope this helps you in the future, Birthday’s, Valentine’s Day etc, but in all honesty I wrote this guide and I’m still none the wiser about any of this.

Dressing For Dinner

Dressing For Dinner.png

I decided to dress for dinner tonight. I went the whole hog with a dress shirt, white marcella waistcoat, white tie and a formal tailcoat. It was the sort of thing that the Edwardian gentry would have dined in on the most formal of occasions.

untitled-design-2

However it kind of loses some of the dignity and gravitas and when your sat on the sofa balancing a pizza on your lap. But it did make for a slightly amusing experiment, but I don’t see dressing for dinner at home making a comeback. It was a rather large hassle for what turned out to be a 10 minuet working meal. If I were however dining at table, I may possibly try again.

Postnatal Depression In Men

Postnatal Depression In Men.png

Postnatal depression is something that affects as much as 10% of new mothers out there, however what they don’t tell you is that it doesn’t only effect women, it can effect men just as badly. It may be difficult to tell if you are suffering from Postnatal depression because some of the symptoms are just symptomatic of life, especially when you’ve just had a child. symptoms such as tiredness, trouble sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day seem like par for the course when a new baby comes along, and this would go hand in hand with problems concentrating, making decisions and a lack of energy and feeling all the time seems like it would again be part of the lack of sleep. The common symptoms of PND (postnatal depression) in men are:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • withdrawing from contact with other people
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

What causes postnatal depression in men is not entirely clear from a sociological and an anthropological standpoint factors could include

  • a history of mental health problems, particularly depression, earlier in life
  • having no close family or friends to support you
  • a poor relationship with your partner
  • recent stressful life events, such as a bereavement or job loss
  • financial difficulties

however from a biochemical standpoint however childbirth does some pretty crazy things to men’s heads studies in animals and people show that new fathers experience an increase in the hormones estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin and glucocorticoids, according to a recent review of studies by psychologist Elizabeth Gould and colleagues from Princeton University.

The research shows that contact with the mother and children seem to induce certain hormonal changes in fathers. In humans, fathers who show more affection toward their children also tend to have higher levels of oxytocin (the hormone responsible for bonding with children), the effects of this change in the chemical soup that makes up a human being could lead to hormonal imbalances that in turn could lead to depression.

If you do feel that you are suffering from postnatal depression as a dad there are many things you can do about it.

If you want someone to talk to anonymously you can call the Samaritans free on 0117 983 1000 from any UK mobile or landline.

Alternatively you can speak to your doctor who will recommend various forms of treatment for you such as antidepressants or counselling based on your needs. Most importantly you should talk to your partner, tell them what you are going through, they may be feeling the same and you can act as a little two person support group for each other, or by simply unburdening yourself to them they be able to help a little bit while you try to get your shit together. It is hard work and I speak from experience, I suffered through the sleepless nights and lethargic days (to the point where I had to have a sit down half way through washing the dishes), I suffered the mood swings, the obsessive behaviour and the constant tiredness. It got to the point where I barely recognised who I was as person anymore, and then finally it hit me, that moment of clarity, that I needed help, I went to my doctor and asked for a big pile of antidepressants, I started taking my daughter out more and more, seeing friends and just doing small things until now over the last few months (bearing in mind my daughter will be two next month) I have finally started to feel like myself again. I give a shit about how I look again, I care that my house is a mess, I do occasionally go out and have fun with my friends. And a big part of that is because I asked for help.

The mother of my child would joke that our roles were reversed after the pregnancy. I was the one who had the baby brain and the sleepless nights, I could drive a tractor through that bedroom and I wouldn’t have woken Jessica up, whereas Marianna farting in her bedroom will often wake me up to this day (even if I fall asleep on the sofa). But this made me think that if I were going through this sort of thing how many other men were out there, going through the exact same thing and not getting the help that they needed?  Men and mental health issues can be tricky minefield to navigate at the best of times, because by admitting that we need help, we are wired to believe that we fail as men, that we should be the strong silent type, but this sort of thing is not healthy, yes I know that there is a stigma around mental health, but there shouldn’t be, especially at a time when we as men really are at out most vulnerable. If you need help get it, if you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t leave it untreated (at least not for longer than it takes to sober up), if you had cancer you would get chemo, if you caught the clap you would take some penicillin, if you were stupid enough to mess around with power tools while under the influence, you would go to the emergency room. So why on earth wouldn’t you take the necessary treatments to combat depression and make your self well again? If not for your sake then for your child’s. They deserve a father, not just the shell of one.