In our world, it’s common to be concerned with bigger bank accounts, better cars, higher job titles, cushier vacations and consequently, frailer egos. But not everyone fits into the ‘common’ mould.
Standing out are a few men who keep close to friends and family, have a sincere passion for their life’s work, and follow their own moral compass rather than being so concerned about pleasure, popularity and power.
You may be familiar with this type of person who is so easy to admire and trust that you’d be happy for them to advise your children and speak for you on your behalf.
Try to make your own list of men who happen to be elegant, but also have a consistently strong internal character. You may find that you can only think of a handful of names.
Edmond Rostand, who wrote about aristocracy and beauty in “Cyrano de Bergerac” addresses the subject of elegance and character:
“I have a different idea of elegance. I don’t dress like a fop, it’s true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honor, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven’t washed away. I’m always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper then the finest mustache, and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.”
~Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
Mr. Rostand talks about dressing up and how it relates to elegance. Elegant people understand ‘looking elegant’ is a long and sometimes arduous process which doesn’t happen overnight. Being elegant isn’t about being rich, although some elegant people happen to be wealthy. Take a look at the Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the world and you can quickly notice that there’s no direct correlation between wealth and elegance.
But even if you suddenly find yourself to be a smashing success–sartorially speaking, it doesn’t mean that you’ll morph into an elegant person just because you look great. With enough hours of study, a strong intent and plenty of money, dressing beautifully can be as easy as putting on a track suit in the morning, but being elegant is a life’s work.
* Making mistakes and taking lessons from those mistakes are legitimate ways to attain elegance. We seem to relate best to those who struggle and eventually find their way (sartorially-wise or otherwise).
* The quality of grace is sorely missing in the sartorial realm. Reject the practice of criticizing individuals (by name or photo) for something as petty as a necktie peeking out below a waistcoat or other such nonsense. Being overtly critical is more vulgar than any “sartorial fault’. When we lose our sensitivity towards other human beings, we should step back and take a look at our own selves.
* It’s OK to miss a personal mark, because clothes alone can never define who you really are.
* Don’t be touched by the psychosis of superficiality. For example, gaining weight and not having enough money to own good clothes can feel like a disaster. However, gaining weight and struggling with money is not a disaster; these are only aspects of life that can be addressed methodically with patience and an unfaltering will, if we choose to do so.
* In a world of violence against innocents, starvation, disease, orphaned children, and soldiers fighting to preserve peace, the pursuit of elegance is a river than runs deeper than just “how awesome you look”. We should put clothing in the place where it belongs—a place which is secondary to being a good and decent person trying to make positive differences (no matter how big or small).
* Being ‘good’ doesn’t mean being weak. Standing alone and defying poor behavior takes strength, as well as accepting the risk of disapproval, including losing money, success, and popularity.
We’ve attempted to list nine men whom we admire in our field , considering traits such as personal elegance, consistency of character and sense of discretion:
Perhaps the most discreet of the nine, Master Tailor Massimo Cifonelli scissor -hands (or shear-hands) is the technically-gifted genius behind the Cifonelli, Paris, tailoring house empire. As a dedicated family man and hard working craftsman, he’s never short on personal flair or graciousness.
Owner of the stunning Santa Eulalia family department store and tailoring house in Barcelona, Spain, Luis Sans may be one of the kindest gentlemen in existence. He reserves time for others while expecting nothing in return. A person of his success could easily escape into his own world, but Luis is always the same, taking time for others and greeting the world daily with his signature smile and gentle eyes.
A superstar at heart. Gianpiero is, for many people, the face of Santandrea / St Andrews where he holds the Commercial Director position. He is like the Giving Tree, forgetting about himself in order to put others first. His very presence brings a sense of goodwill to any place or situation.
Erwan Camphuis is the new owner and director of the Cifonelli ready-to-wear. Erwan is among the most fervent men we know devoted to personal principles and has inspired others to stay true to their own beliefs. He is particularly discreet but will go out on a limb to help someone—a great combination of strength and discernment.
Michael Skinner is the patriarch of Dege & Skinner on Savile Row. Full of grace and impeccable manners and one of the best listeners we know, Mr. Skinner is a stupendous example of a socially educated man with a giant heart for encouraging others.
Lyle Roblin is one of our own, a professional photographer and model who puts kind words into action literally taking the road to lend a helping hand to others. One of the most unselfish people we know with a giving and gentle spirit… and he looks terrific !
Master Tailor Carlo Andreacchio of A. Caraceni is kindness personified. He shows as much regard to the most humble man in the room as he does to some of the kings he has dressed. Carlo has a gift for connecting others to form many friendships that otherwise would never have existed.
The son of Arturo Lolli who founded the Drapers fabric company in Bologna in 1956, is probably one of the most respected and beloved gentlemen in the trade. Everywhere you go, from the most acclaimed tailoring house to the most remote family tailor, the name of Domenico Lolli is a password.
Mark Cho, founder of The Armoury and owner of Drake’s London, is the definition of being discreet. Incredibly successful at an early age, he shows discretion well beyond his years and is content to stay in the background while his employees take the limelight.