Of course, dressing well is an expression of good manners. But, it is in speech, behavior and general demeanour that all the muted qualities of Men, or for that matter, People, come to fore. I totally don’t agree with the cliché that has been circulating around about good manners, that they are hard to find and even harder to appreciate. In fact, their rarity makes them even more prized! The funny thing is that in this swashbuckling crusade for good manners, really elementary things are left behind! Let’s begin with the fashion of greeting people. As a thumb rule, the less important people should be greeted before the more important one’s, the Men before the Women, the young before the old, singles before couples. Now, in the last case, we ought not to forget to announce the man before the woman, followed by a common surname. The most common error people make on being introduced to someone is that of first extending their hand towards someone more important or older to them. The thing to remember here is that while doing so, the one being accosted is almost obliged to reciprocate, without meaning the pleasantry, perhaps. The idea is to let the greeting be as genuine as possible. Tainting it for showy purposes takes away all the warmth from it.
After those modalities, comes a tad tedious task of suffixing the perfect greeting. What is it that would best conclude the greeting? Steer clear of the ostentatious, run-of-the-mill “I am so proud”, “thrilled” or even worse “it’s a pleasure”. The latter being a highly graceless phrase, mostly stirring in the mind images of illicit pleasures such as having an affair! Time we carefully reword all those hackneyed terms and use something more impressionable like “lovely or happy to make your acquaintance”. Accompanied by a well-meaning smile, it makes for a near perfect greeting!
Let’s now speak of the absolutely vintage tradition of hand-kissing. It was once a bastion reserved for top-notch lords in the antiquated times, but today it’s only the privilege of Women of really finespun pedigree! It has to be executed with absolute caution and follow a strict code! To begin with, it can be performed only on married Women, and Widows in their 40’s. Being more of an intimate practice, it should never be observed in a public area. You must always lean forward towards the hand and not pull it towards you and just brush it with your lips.
If you have really absorbed the crux of all what we have dwelled upon, you are well on your way to being an elegant man, not only on the outside, but very much in your conduct and grace. And for your outside, there is always Herringbone and Sui!