We've now accumulated more than 30 posts on this little blog, and I've finally gotten the hang of looking for post ideas in my everyday life. Last week I broke down and headed to a local men's clothier to purchase a couple of new suits. Rumor has it that I am "not so little around the middle" and this in turn can make it difficult for me to find well fitting, but not overpriced, menswear. I succeeded in finding some new threads, and this afternoon I go pick them up. This was my first time buying real "suits" as, up until this point, I just went to the local department store, found one that seemed to fit, picked out some pants, and went on my way. This time though I decided that I should go to the real deal, and get something a little nicer, and better fitting. I may be a big guy, but I do care about my appearance.
I grew up in a pretty blue collar household. My father was a road foreman for many years, before becoming the Manager for a local municipality. My mother worked as a merchandiser and as a secretary, which provided her the flexibility she needed to be with the family. Even as the manager my father never really wore suits to work. Polo shirts, Oxfords, and khakis were the norm. His only real need for a suit was when he was showing our beloved Cardigan Welsh Corgi dogs at dog shows. So, needless to say, when it came time for me to join DeMolay there was nary a suit in sight in my closet. (At left: How not to dress your corgi, or your DeMolay for that matter!)
I explained to my mother that I needed a suit for DeMolay, and we headed over to J.C. Penney's, where I picked up a stylish double breasted jacket and some slacks. That jacket served me well, eventually being cannibalized to become my Commandery uniform (and might I say that I am rather proud of still being able to fit into that coat that was purchased some 8 years ago!) I had a suit, but I didn't understand anything about it, or why it was constructed the way it was. It was a coat; it fit; I was happy. So, where am I going with this? As I have transitioned into becoming an Advisor for DeMolay, and member of the fraternity as a whole, I realized how little I understood about men's "fashion" and how to properly dress for upscale functions. I didn't have anyone to teach this to me because of my blue collar roots, and now I see a whole new generation of DeMolays with the same issue. They have a suit, they know the basics, but beyond that, they have no idea what is and is not acceptable!
Society likes to use "code words" for how men should dress. These are commonly accepted phrases like formal, semi-formal, business casual, etc. If you were to go to Wikipedia and search "Suit," the applicable article that you would find is more than six thousand words long, detailing things such as cut, fabric, lapels, venting, breeches, trousers, ties, shirts, and more. It's a lot of information to digest to be sure. There is, however, a better way to get this information across to our young men. Talk to them about it! Show them a different way to tie a tie, or explain why white socks don't go with a black suit (or any suit for that matter!) If we don't explain this to them, then we can't blame them for not knowing it! These tips will help them in DeMolay, but they will be especially thankful when they go out into the real world with this knowledge and can apply it when preparing for interviews and other formal gatherings.
I'm not expecting to see a bunch of DeMolay fasionistas, but one thing it seems our society is losing is "common knowledge" information such as this; things that men used to pass from father to son, as sort of a "rite of passage." We are now in an age where that information is being lost, so take some time and pass it on to others. They will thank you in the long run!
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony
As a side note: For those of you that have been following along, I usually try to post on Tuesday and Thursday. I am changing that schedule a bit, and will now try to post on Monday and Thursday. If I have any special articles that come in, I may use them in place of my post, or add them to my regular ramblings. It just depends on how talkative I am that week!