07/03/12 - 0 Comments
Men’s Style 101 with ‘The Gentry Man’: A Crash Course in Sophistication from the 50s
Okay, ladies, we’re here to talk about our guys (and by that we mean gentlemen) and their style. For some reason, no matter how woefully we look at that old college sports sweatshirt (the one he kind-of-sort-of washes every other weekend), it’s hard to convince our men to suit up and channel a little Cary Grant. We think it’s definitely time they whipped out that old-school charm, the kind that’s guaranteed to make any woman weak at the knees. Because, let’s be honest, when we dream of a man we’re thinking of Eddie Redmayne in a three-piece suit, not Seth Rogen in sweats.
We know, we’re calling for a full-blown makeover, and the task might seem a little bit daunting. But, with the help of HarperCollins’ The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male, you’ll have your man ready to sweep you off your feet in no time. And he’ll do it without wrinkling his tie, too. Yep, by the end of this lesson, they’ll put his picture next to ‘class’ in the dictionary. If you’re having a tough time convincing your guy, tell him to think of it as a challenge. You can even buy the book for him—it makes the perfect present.
For any guy looking to brush up on his suave, or for ladies looking to give their lover a few helpful hints, The Gentry Man is a must-buy. A compilation of select articles from the 22 issues of Gentry magazine, originally published from 1951 to 1957, this coffee table book is a virtual how-to guide to becoming a Renaissance man—the type of guy who can talk about art, mix a great drink and eat a lobster dinner without getting any melted butter on his jacket. Sounds like somebody you’d want to date, right? The articles were chosen by Hal Rubenstein, the former editor of the men’s style section in the New York Times Magazine and current fashion director of InStyle. Trust us, this is one dude who knows a thing or two about clothing. It’ll be like letting James Bond loose on your boyfriend’s wardrobe, and the results will be a shaken-and-not-stirred strain of elegance.
Now, before you roll your eyes and tell us the ’50s weren’t so great if you were a woman (you just taught your man to do the ironing, and you don’t want to go back), let us assure you that The Gentry Man is all about creating the perfect gentleman, the type of fellow who is happy to let his lady relax while he does the heavy lifting—and, as classy ladies, we know that sophistication can be a hefty load.
According to Rubenstein’s introduction to the book, the ’50s were about much more than a split-level house, men being “manly” in an office and wives who were happy to stay at home with the kids. Rather, a true Gentry man “openly lusted for a painting by Paul Klee, had unapologetic fantasies about bullfighting, confessed to yearning to learn more about Eastern philosophy—especially after reading an excerpt from Hesse’s Siddhartha.” Gentry men knew what the color tea dust looked like (“that’s green, by the way,” writes Rubenstein), could dazzle in the kitchen with a recipe for beef goulash and were perfectly at home playing host at their country estate. Bermuda shorts were okay, so long as they were made from Japanese linen. Music, books and art were all acceptable hobbies for these cultured men, and if a guy owned a car it was most likely a Cadillac.
This example of the quintessential male was modeled after William C. Segal, the creator of Gentry magazine, a self-made millionaire who dedicated himself to the pursuit of style and class. Being a Gentry man was about much more than looking the part, according to Segal: “They want always to know more, so that they may contribute more to people near them and to the world in which they live; they want to give more so that they can gain more from each breath, each hour, each day, each year of their lives,” he said on the Gentry reader in an ad for his magazine. This philosophy is, of course reflected in The Gentry Man, along with some pretty witty humor (there’s a section titled “Most Readers Will Skip This Page”).
We women try very hard to capture class and act ladylike, so it’s about time our guys put in a little effort, too. It definitely wouldn’t hurt them to agonize over their outfit for a change (“Honey, does this tweed smoking jacket match my wingtip shoes?”), and who would say no to a man who dreams of surprising his lover with a weekend in Paris and not the latest video game craze?
Whether you’re looking for a good laugh or some serious tips to give your guy on style, The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male is something of a necessity. According to the book jacket, “The Gentry Man is a collectable volume that belongs in every man’s library.” Plus it makes a great gift and, even if your guy doesn’t read it, it’ll look pretty sharp on your coffee table. GQ, step aside and make way for style advice à la an earlier era. Respect your elders, right?