Etiquette Boss: History of the gentleman’s dress code

Many men adhere to certain codes of conduct, but do not know why the rules exist in the first place. Today I will shed some light on why certain rules are in effect.

Question: Why is a white shirt considered formal, but a colored shirt, casual attire?

Answer: In previous centuries, upper class gentlemen did no manual work. Servants laundered their white shirts. For laborers, white shirts were expensive and impractical. Some had one shirt. As the industrial revolution created a middle class, and factories claimed the servants of grand homes, pastel colors came into vogue, as they did not need to be laundered as often as white. However, the white shirt is still seen as ‘gentleman’s wear, a symbol of elegant attire.

Question: Why is it an etiquette faux pas for a gentleman to stand at a formal function with his suit jacket open or take off his jacket when ladies are in the room?

Answer: The shirt was once an undershirt. It had no buttons at the front. The long overcoat covered every part of the shirt except the collar and sleeve, which was sometimes frilly. This undershirt evolved to now being outerwear. However, formal functions still remind us of the origins of the shirt as underwear. (Bill Gates created an international scandal for greeting the President of South Korea with an open jacket).

The only accepted shirt parts for exposure are still the neck and sleeves, except when a man decides to sit. At this time, if he wants to remove his jacket, and ladies are present, he must ask permission to do so or, in polite society, he is still seen as “undressing in public.”

Beauty Tips: Sesame Oil

If you run short of sunscreen, use pure sesame oil (not toasted) on your body. It is said to prevent suntan.

For younger looking skin, add sesame oil to your diet. Studies have shown that when sesame oil was substituted for regular oil, blood pressure dropped and many other health benefits accrued. In addition, it contains antioxidants, vitamin E and sesamol, which can prevent radical damage to skin. Smelling a piece of cotton bud saturated with sesame oil on a daily basis is said to help restore the sense of smell.

Phillipa Morrish is the president of Etiquette Training International.

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