Treat People Right and Wear a Suit – Opting Out


Dressing Well Makes You Feel Better and People Like You More

One of the most important articles written in the libertysphere in recent times is Jeffrey Tucker’s Dress Like a Man, his guide for men to dress well and thereby save the world. In it, he lays out the foundation for how a man ought to dress in a world where going to the grocery store in pajamas is considered acceptable. Something needs to be done to combat this epidemic of cotton civvies that plagues society.

There is nothing less than the destiny of Western civilisation at stake here. Says Tucker:

“If men could absorb [the basics of good dress], the world would be a much more beautiful place in which to live. Elevated dressing causes people to behave better. Crime might fall. Manners would begin to come back. People might clean up their language. They might listen to better music and read better books. Something resembling civilization might return.”

Dang, sounds pretty serious. But what does “good dress” look like?

“* one or two suits in blue or grey

* a blue or black jacket or sports coat

* a jacket for summer (khaki or blue cotton or, if you want to be really fancy, seersucker)

* a tweed jacket for winter

* year-round grey wool trousers (light or dark or both)

* a few pairs of khakis

* 3 white and 3 blue shirts

* a selection of ties”

It would seriously question the article’s usefulness if these prescriptions and implications didn’t stir real anger in the comments. If it didn’t sting, then it wouldn’t be shared and debated over today. The commonality in articles like these is the bar-setting. As soon as you set some kind of standard, you have something to compare yourself to. People would rather the standards be ambiguous, if there at all, so that they didn’t have to be confronted with their own inadequacy. Sure enough, every time this recirculates, the usual responses go something like this:

“Suits are uncomfortable”

Hang on, since when did it become gospel that comfort was to be prioritized over all other consideraitons? It’s simply assumed in this statement that the purpose of clothing is for personal comfort. If that was the case, then no other clothes would exist except pyjamas. Nobody is asking you to wear a suit in bed. There is obviously some other cultural purpose to clothing for the public eye beyond easy access to scratch your arse.

“Well, it is also comfortable not to shave and not to bathe, and we have a word for people like that: slobs. If you don’t want to be a slob, you have to live with a bit of discomfort.”

We dress well for the same reason why we wash more than we would if we were recluses, and why we have better table manners in public than we will do home alone: It’s a mark of respect to the other person not to make their life worse by your presence. We sacrifice a little bit of comfort by doing these things, yes, but you profit by the fact that people are more likely to want to spend time with you.

“It makes others feel uncomfortable”

Going to a barbecue in a nice jacket where the other dads stick to their Hawaiin shirts sounds like a recipe for resentment. This is often referred to as “overdressing,” though it has yet to be proven that such a thing exists. The best-dressed guy at the party elevates the occasion and becomes the beacon to which everyone else aspires.

More often than not, if you’re the sharpest guy in the room, you get complimented for it. If people are made to feel inferior by that, it should not concern you any more than people being made uncomfortable by your superior charm, wit and intelligence. People who place other people’s envy and resentment above setting a high standard are unwittingly or not perpetuating a crude egalitarianism where everyone must be equally drab. No tall-poppy syndrome at the parties I attend — sounds like a lot of commie BS to me.

“I dress for myself, not for others”

Bollocks. If you have any aesthetics whatsoever, you have considered what you expect to look like to other people. You are, after all, not the guy who has to look at yourself — others do. Dressing well, Tucker says, is a compliment to the people around you — “I respect you well enough to want you to not suffer by my being here,” and part of that is looking good to them, pleasing their eyes.

Focusing on the impracticalities of the suit (that can be overcome) are to avoid the obvious broader point: Largely, Western men dress atrociously, to the detriment of everyone around them that have to look at their shlubby arse.

“People have different tastes and styles”

It is true that fashion goes through phases and styles differ by personality and culture, but there’s a reason why the suit jacket has lasted so long. Jackets add structure to men’s upper bodies that make them look stronger and more masculine. It adds refinement, indicating that the man has a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. People’s aesthetics do differ and change, but when you take it on aggregate, their tastes rhyme — good dress comes in flavors, but the basics are extraordinarily consistent over time.

You may think that those cargo shorts look better, but back in the civilized world we used to call that bad taste. Be open to the possibility that you are just wrong on this, and over a century of human cultural evolution may have something to teach you.

The Benefit to Yourself

Dressing well makes you feel better about yourself. You will know this if you’ve ever put on a well-fitting suit and seen yourself in the mirror. All of a sudden you stand more straightly, you stride more confidently. You look like someone who’s meant to be there rather than just being there. Sort yourselves out.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.