Pomp and Practicality

Pomp and Practicality

Remember the one in school who always seemed to dress right--the one awarded "best-dressed" by popular vote--who won so easily that his title was never in question? Sometimes I've wondered if the young gent's mom should have had the real credit for his good taste, or whether this soldier-of-style possessed an innate talent to pull himself together since the time of his birth?

In this personal essay, I admit that I've always had admiration (and at times an envy) for a natural-born, elegant dresser. Even decades later, I recall the tailored chocolate brown velvet blazer that my classmate, Terrisina O'Neal, wore in Grade 7, and the yellow and blue wool argyle v-neck sweater with the bronzed-yellow tie that Chels Norton paired with his tan pants and polished loafers in Grade 10.

This point of being able to recall a style choice years later is interesting, because if these two former classmates did not dress as they did, I doubt that I would even be able to recall their names today. And, if dressing well causes a person to be memorable, can embracing "pomp" be more practical than we imagined?

The first definition of pomp is dignified, while the second definition connotes vanity. These two definitions can provide a confusing  dichotomy of meanings.

Even if the word pomp can mean dignified, a pompous person brings on thoughts of  someone who is irritatingly self-important. Yet, the root of the word pomp is the Latin pompa, meaning “procession”, which gives the word a regal feel.



At one time, this photo created a tense debate within sartorial circles (mainly for the contrasting buttonhole). Three things immediately stand out here: the arched tie, the pocket square, and the contrasting button-hole stitching.  The overall look is somewhat understated while still having a strong sense of style.

A properly arched tie does not fail to intrigue...and makes one wonder exactly what special twist, slide, push or positioning created such a nice result?  The red stitched button hole is bold and shows a willingness to take risks and is a bit decadent, since it is difficult to wear this suit more than once every other week because the buttonhole stitching is so identifiable (...even if the Parisian Gentleman finds the colored button-hole stitching to be too much).


Perhaps no one has carried off the rose boutonniere better than former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (above), whom on the day of his funeral, caused a sell-out of roses at Canadian florists because of the sheer volume of men who sought rose boutonnieres on that day in to commemorate his memory.

This little article of nature seems to be worn by men who are in a class of their own. If this look is worn consistently, it does not fail to leave a beautiful impression. For the serious flower lover, a working lapel button-hole with a boutonniere latch raises the bar in the world of boutonnieres…a small touch that is impossibly elegant:

One of the most understated choices for the boutonniere is the red carnation. If you like to hold strictly to tradition, wear a red flower if your mother is living and a white flower if she is not, as is the custom in several parts of the U.S. and abroad.


Obviously, an amazing timepiece is something that can bring great pleasure to a man. Yet, it can be of benefit to a man to notice how he wears his timepiece. For example, it isn't becoming for a man to pose for a photograph after noticeably pulling one sleeve higher than the other, thrusting his wrist forward and tilting his timepiece ever-so-slightly towards the camera.

This move is apparent to others who look at his picture. Even when a man is not posing for a photograph, constantly extending the arm forward to show off a timepiece hints at a bit of of desperation, and can be off-putting to others. This point aside, there's no question that a stunning timepiece worn by a discreet gentleman further defines his style while providing the element of real function and technical performance. A nice example of a discreetly worn timepiece:


It seems as if it would have been a waste for Frank Sinatra not to wear a hat. Many other men who have a complementary head shape and facial features for a hat would do well to give a Fedora a try.

In regard to handkerchiefs, my father almost always carried one in his inside jacket pocket. If he had not used the handkerchief, he would offer it to those closest to him, should they have a spill, need to wipe their hands, or find themselves unexpectedly emotional. This sentiment of offering a handkerchief embodies elegance. It is these subtleties that makes a gentleman memorable and is testimony that real pomp comes not only from outward appearances, but also from subtle and sincere gestures of grace

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