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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Art of Manliness

by David Trumbull (substituting for Mary DiZazzo Trumbull)

[Mary’s husband is giving her an early Valentine’s Day present: a week off from writing All That Zazz.]

Mindful that Monday we celebrate the birthday of George Washington I must tell the truth—the title of his confection is not original, rather I take it from a website, authored by a husband and wife team, since 2008 it has featured articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men.

While that website ranges over topics such as health and sports, money and career, and relationships and family, there is a section devoted to topics that correspond to beauty culture for women—men’s dress and grooming. In that regard, I’ll offer some rules for men.

1. Your suit: it’s dark, it covers you up (including the budges we get with age), and they all look more-or-less alike. You put it on and go to work every day. It’s not a style statement; it’s a uniform. It frees you from thinking about what to wear or how it makes you look. It’s clean, it’s pressed; it says, Here’s a man who’s going to get something done today.

2. Your hat—wear one! A bareheaded man looks as unfinished as those hideous modernist building of the mid-20th century that lacked a cornice. From May 15 to September 15 it is acceptable to wear a straw hat rather than the more formal, but warmer, felt hat. The dates are inviolable. According to St. Paul a woman should crown her beauty with a hat. She therefore takes care in picking out the correct hat for the season and occasion to perfect her charms. For a man to have to think: is this a “Straw Hat Day” or “Felt Hat Day?” is unbecoming and unmanly—that’s why we have a calendar to dictate such things.

3. Somewhere along the way some misguided fools came up with something called “creative black tie.” Don’t do it! For eveningwear a man has but two options: “White tie and tails” which unless you are a member of the diplomatic corps is almost never seen, and “Black tie” which means black dinner suit with black bowtie. It is the most “uncreative” dress possible, and that is precisely the point. At formal or semi-formal evening events the men all wear the identical uniform so that all the attention will be on the ladies present and their gowns.

Remember men: It’s all about the ladies. Remember your lady on February 14th!

Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns at Mary is a third-generation cosmetologist and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183 or