How to Dress with Honor (Pillars of Modern Civility, Part 4)
Society needs a revival of modern civility, a return to the balance of kindness and strength that defined men of great character. In parts 1, 2, and 3 of our series on modern civility, we explored the concepts of decorum, wisdom, and dignity. In part 4, we are defining honor in both action and fashion. Men of great character need to know how to dress with honor so that they can give honor where it is due without detracting from it.
How to Demonstrate Honor: Sincerity, Not Affectation
In the 110 Rules of Civility, Frances Hawkins speaks to honor in several of the rules, the most important of which describes it in this way:
“Superfluous compliments and all affectation of ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be neglected.” (Rule No. 25)
In modern terms, men of character don’t turn to fanfare or rigid formality when they honor others. Instead, they are sincere with their compliments, and they are simple and dignified in their demeanor. Rule 42 makes this even more clear:
“Let thy ceremonies in courtesy be proper to the dignity of his place with whom thou converses, for it is absurd to act the same with a clown and a prince.”
When you come to an event to honor someone, come with a purpose in mind. If you act foolish or wild on an important occasion, you abandon all honor at the door. Instead, enter with good manners, a calm and controlled demeanor, and the intention to bring honor and respect to the person you’re celebrating.
How to Dress with Honor
Just as your actions should show control and good sense, your attire should reflect a calm, collected, and well-mannered character. From your suit and shirt to your cufflinks, select each piece so that it does not distract from, but instead points to, the event’s honoree.
Men of character know that a simple suit is the most versatile and valuable asset you can have in your wardrobe. When you want to dress with honor, it’s the perfect foundation.
A black, navy, or dark gray suit sets the stage for a look that maintains the proper dignity of a special occasion without distracting from the person being honored.
- Proper fit: the shoulders and sleeves should be wrinkle-free, and the coat should button without pulling or wrinkling.
- Proper tailoring: sleeves and cuffs should leave about a half inch of the shirt cuff visible, and the pant cuffs should break on the front of the shoe. This gives a clean look and allows the cufflinks to stay visible at all times.
- Clean and pressed: a truly sharp suit is always properly cleaned and ready. Have the suit dry-cleaned and pressed after every event so that when you need to dress with honor, you’re already prepared.
With a fine suit as the foundation, a man’s jewelry is the next step in perfecting a look that exudes honor. A quality timepiece, such as a diving watch, is a solid choice. Cufflinks should also be of high quality, with fine craftsmanship and attention to detail as the benchmarks for that quality.
- Match materials: all leather elements should match, as should the colors of metal pieces. The continuity of these elements demonstrates your eye for style.
- Quality first: invest in jewelry that has a reputation for quality craftsmanship and detail. A quality piece will outlast any budget piece, and it demonstrates where you place value.
- Simplicity: gaudy and garish jewelry should be left out of your ensemble when honoring another individual. It is their event, not yours.
Beyond the cufflinks and watch, a man has many options to bring a bit more individuality into his wardrobe without drawing too much attention to himself. Here you can add a bit of color or luxe that won’t overwhelm the eye.
- Solid colors or simple patterns: Don’t go overboard with ornate or busy patterns. Rely on a simple solid color for your ties and pocket squares. Basic plaids and stripes are also possible, but again, be cautious that you’re not pushing the envelope on color choices.
- Small touches: any accessory should add a touch of class, but it shouldn’t be more than a touch. A small lapel pin or tie bar adds class and style to your attire without going over the top.
- Coordinated pieces: keep your choices consistent with your attire and your jewelry for a clean and sophisticated look. Each piece should work in concert with your attire.
Legacy in Honor
It may seem unnecessary to give this much thought to attire, but men of great character know that the details can make all the difference. And when you place importance on dressing to honor someone rather than yourself, you establish a long legacy of humble strength that all can see.
Ox & Bull is committed to helping you establish that legacy with pieces that last generations and transcend fashion trends. Find a timeless look with our heirloom-quality collections today to help you dress with honor for every occasion.