He’s My Mister: Keeping Up Appearances

Posted on January 27, 2016, 8:00 am
11 mins


I love a well put-together guy. Better yet, I love a well put-together guy with poise, principles, and a character that actually matches his image. I’m an advocate for the personal code, the set rules we adhere to that mean we control our behaviors and attitudes, and clothes have no other place than to serve as a metaphor for our personal code. How formal, how dirty, how lazy, how self-aware, how hospitable our attire is… it all shows the world exactly who we are on the inside. In essence, image-conscious habits are good social skills, and taking the time to dress appropriately and present yourself respectably is a form of charm and social grace. More importantly, you will feel next-level good about yourself–not just for looking great, but for keeping your outward image consistent with your personal code.

Boss "Task" Top Coat

Boss Top Coat

Wear A Coat: i.e., Finish The Outfit

Since it’s January, I’m telling you to wear a coat. Not an athletic jacket or a puffer coat–an actual coat. The Boss “Task” wool blend topcoat on sale at Nordstrom is one of the most versatile basics you can own. Originally priced at $645, it’s currently 33% off for just $432.15. This is a great deal, considering that you will wear this coat forever and be grateful that you have it for years to come.

More than your actual style savvy, finishing your outfit is one of the best things you can do for your appearance and overall image. When comfort comes before hospitality, you suffer in ways you don’t even understand. Sending the constant message that you can’t be bothered to put effort into the most basic of things like your appearance says to others that you aren’t worth enough to yourself–and you’re not likely to be worth anything to them, either. However, putting effort into what you wear is the starting point for all other engagements. It sends the message that you understand attention to detail, and that you have a standard you’re not willing to sacrifice. It also shows others that their opinion does indeed matter to you, which communicates basic respect.

Make sure you have all the elements of a finished outfit before you walk out the door: Proper undergarments, layers for changes in temperature, weather- and occasion-appropriate shoes, and, lastly, a good wallet.


Theory Wellar HC Two-Button Sport Coa

Theory Wellar HC Two-Button Sport Coa

Dress For The Occasion

When it comes to events and work environments, dressing for the occasion is a matter of showing the host, management and other attendees that you’re in on things with them. This is especially important in social situations, where people can easily feel alienated and disconnected. If you wear cocktail attire to a cocktail party, a tuxedo to the formal, a business look to work, the team colors to a game and something stylish and hip to an arty event, you send the message to the rest of the tribe that you find both them and the occasion worthwhile. When people know you are taking these things to heart, they perceive respect from you, and you gain equal respect from them–all from your very first impression.

If you’re not sure how to dress appropriately for an occasion, search it on the internet; everything from job interviews to first dates to events with varying levels of formality are searchable. Barneys New York has a great feature on their website of categories for organizing how you think about outfitting yourself. The Essentials Collection is a one-stop experience–if not a full tutorial–on what items a well-functioning wardrobe should have. As I went through these suggestions, it was easy to see that every possible fashion item a guy could need, no matter the occasion, is taken care of. The Theory Wellar Sport Coat is a perfect example of a jacket that will take you straight from work to cocktail.


Capelli's Gentlemen's Barbershop

Capelli’s Gentlemen’s Barbershop


Preschedule regular haircuts, manicures and pedicures (or learn to manicure yourself), teeth cleanings, body hair trimmings and waxing. Nothing is more rude than being unkempt and out of control on this basic level. No man should believe that he is so precious that he is exempt from grossing people out, and no one has the right to not care unless he lives alone in the mountains. I’m not telling you what style to have here, or not to be covered in tattoos, or not to wave your freak flag. I’m just saying care enough to not trigger a gag reflex in the person who has to sit next to you on the bus.

Capelli’s Gentlemen’s Barbershop is a straight forward place that promises to make you look and feel good. The environment is a classic gentlemen’s vibe complete with newspaper reading and game watching. What’s even better is that Capelli’s offers executive memberships to keep you on track and stay on top of your game without even having to think about it.


Avoid Indulging Jealousy

No matter how beautiful, stylish or accomplished you might be, jealousy is one of the ugliest and dumbest indulgences. Jealousy says to the world that you are too lazy to get your shit together, and that you think it’s fine to make it the other guy’s problem. It’s often the root of many other bad character traits, and buries any motivation you might have to improve yourself or to see yourself as responsible for the negativity you create for others.While jealousy drives people to the most insidious behaviors, there’s also a laughable folly at the end of its course.

To feel envy and to want to invoke envy will only lead you to petty behaviors with no positive long term outcomes. If this emotion is running you, start by making a list of the people and situations which trigger it. Self awareness is king. Follow up by redirecting those feelings into a plan of action, and learn to turn jealous feelings into feelings of inspiration. Channel envy into admiration of people who have things figured out. Learn from them. Go so far as to let them know that they are a source of motivation in your life. Soon, you’ll start to feel more and more secure–and your newfound confidence will become a source of inspiration for others.


Be Generous and Prosper by Sebastian Nybo

Be Generous and Prosper by Sebastian Nybo

Give and Give Again

Generosity is not only about giving people things or money. In fact, that is the least impactful form of generosity. Instead, think of generosity as giving what is needed emotionally–that is, giving yourself.

Graciousness and emotional generosity is not only beneficial to those around you, but can drastically improve your own life as well. Your own ingrained negative mentalities–feeling hassled by those surrounding you, for example, or a need for superiority–aren’t too difficult to turn around when you are constantly looking for ways to be giving. The effort itself changes every dynamic.

Resist the urge to assume the worst in others; the most powerful thing you can give people is the benefit of the doubt. Add simple gestures and kindnesses: Let people merge in traffic, walk quickly across the street when cars are waiting on you, allow people to come out of the elevator or building before you walk in, smile and say hello as people walk by on the street, be happy for someone, give compliments, show concern, be interested in your co-workers, hear people on their terms and don’t miss the point of their conversations.

When you position yourself in your own mind to be generous to those around you, you stop feeling put out by them. Instead, you start to see the power of having several small moments of intentional connection that add up over the day. Even if you start your morning not feeling great, you will quickly experience a change of heart because ultimately, you will feel effective. Generosity creates the feeling that we have our own needs met. Every day is good day. If you find yourself having a hard time shifting gears, try reading Sebastian Nybo’s Be Generous and Prosper, which includes an interview with the Dalai Lama for inspiration.

Keeping up appearances on your terms—from a code that comes from self respect and a sense of hospitality—is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

Sarah Caples has lived in Seattle since 2004 working as a fashion stylist for private clients. Sarah launched an art and society blog in 2008, along with a monthly salon at The Sorrento Hotel, which ran until June 2012. As executive editor of VanguardSeattle.com, Caples hopes to cultivate an informed dialog about regional culture and bring people of diverse backgrounds together in support of nonprofits, artists and community builders.

2 Responses to: He’s My Mister: Keeping Up Appearances

  1. January 27th, 2016

    What a delightful article on style. Thank you! How refreshing to find a take on personal appearance that has its foundation in a philosophy that’s more than skin-deep.

  2. Mantas Ka

    March 7th, 2016

    Wow, it is really interesting story to read. i hope that every man who wants to be a stylish one, should read it and have a potentiality to express himself in a clothing/fashion way :) There is a very lot of good and fashionable clothes, like http://www.inter-grosshandel.pl/ubrania/mezczyzni and wear goods to let himself present as modern and stylish.