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Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
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Elsewhere on this Forum, there are several ongoing discussions regarding appropriate attire, whether certain details are "fashionable," and whether it is "proper" to wear garments in a certain way...such as to leave a working button on a bespoke coat sleeve unfastened. I would suggest that in addressing such concerns, it is important to keep in mind the connection -- and the distinction -- between fashion and etiquette.

One member posits that individuals should feel free to wear whatever garments suit their mood and general sense of style and pay little if any heed to the views of others. As a general rule, I would share this view. Chacun voit midi à sa porte. Indeed, fashion -- by its very nature -- is fluid. It changes with the times. It is seen differently by different people...and so it should be. But individual taste should not -- must not -- be an excuse for bad manners.

A gentleman must always be mindful of the appropriateness of the moment, the desires of his or her host or hostess, and the sensibilities of others.

This can manifest itself in ways both large and small. Wearing a plaid sportscoat to a funeral would be a rather large indiscretion. The issue of keeping one's coat sleeve fastened might be a minor one. But keep in mind that the admonition against leaving that sleeve unbuttoned comes not from a question of style but one of proper decorum. It flows from the fundamental concept that a gentleman simply does not go out in public partially dressed. That means his buttons should be fastened...including those on his sleeve. It, of course, would be a serious embarrassment to both the individual and those with whom he might come in contact should his trousers not be properly closed or zipped. His coat is no exception. Moreover, the idea that one might leave a sleeve button unfastened to show off the bespoke nature of the garment (or the monogram on the shirtcuff beneath) is rather akin to rolling up one's trousers to show off the lining. It adds a dimension of the gauche to the already inappropriate.

On the other hand, I would suggest that the question of brown shoes with black trousers or whether sleeve buttons should be "kissing" or spaced more widely apart are simply a matters of taste and visual appeal not ones of etiquette. In these instances, one can follow the dictates of the arbiters of fashion or one's own sense of style. One can set trends or abide by them. The choice is yours.

Your thoughts?;)
 
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