Gone are the days when ladies and gentlemen regularly donned their furs, fedoras or Ferragamos for elegant social affairs. Formal events often seem few and far in between, and consequently many guests aren’t quite sure what that dress code means anymore. That, combined with an increasingly casual culture, dress codes seem overlooked and the glamorous spell of a well dressed crowd is now broken with with abrasive visions of flip-flops and jeans.
The Bethune & Son gentleman values the purpose of time-honored dress codes. Dress codes ensure you are properly dressed and communicates more subtle values like respect, professionalism, and dignity. Many modern individuals consider dress-codes to be “stuffy” or “elite,” thinking of a time when such codes indicated social class and status. In truth, dress codes communicate respect for the gravity or salubrious nature of an occasion. They also protect your pride and how others may perceive you. Imagine what people would think if you came to a wedding in a Jack Daniel’s tee-shirt and jeans. Ok, maybe you wouldn’t do something that drastic, but it’s human nature to subconsciously judge and categorize others based on how they appear. A dress code ensures you come neither under- or over-dressed, both of which can be socially uncomfortable, embarrassing, and makes you look incompetent.
At Bethune & Son we have both a nostalgic and practical regard for dress codes. We are nostalgic in the sense that class and sophistication has been lost to a casual culture. We embrace the upper spectrum of the dress code, and prefer to be better dressed as a way of expressing the values of a true South Texas gentleman. When there is work to be done on the ranch, he feels at home in a pair of work boots and field pants. When he is a man of business, he communicates his sense of professionalism and intellect by dressing accordingly. When he is called to attend a formal event, he is just as comfortable in a tuxedo and cummerbund as he was earlier that day in work boots on the ranch. The Bethune & Son gentleman is adaptive and understands that he exists in multiple worlds, and is confident enough to embrace it with class and self-respect.
So how do I know what to wear?
Today there are countless “dress codes” you could find on an invitation from “Black Tie” to “Back Alley Suave.” Unless you live in Austin and know a bunch of hipsters, chances are you won’t encounter the latter. We broke it down into 9 fundamental dress codes the Bethune & Son gentleman may encounter in his social life:
8. Specialties: Resort Attire, Hunting Attire, etc.
7. Smart Casual
6. Cocktail Attire
5. Business Casual
4. Business Attire
2. Formal Day Wear/Morning Dress
Over the course of the next few months, Bethune & Son will present a 10-part series uncovering the mysterious intricacies and recommendations for each of these dress codes.
Today, we begin part 1 or our series with how the Bethune & Son man can decode the modern enigma of which dress-rule to follow.
1. Look at the invitation
If the invitation says “Black Tie”, go with it. Pretty straight forward. But what do you wear if the invitation doesn’t list a dress code, or it says something obscure like “Farmhouse Chic”? Your first course of action should be to analyze the invitation. Is the invitation itself more formal? Signs would include hand calligraphy, embossing, or quality card stock. Some store-bought or e-vite events may be more difficult to interpret (but in our opinion, if it was an e-vite it’s probably casual). Look at the wording, phrasing, or colors for signs of elegance. Look at the content too. If it’s during the day, then you can probably rule out formal attire. If it’s in the evening, then you can possibly rule out casual attire. Where is the event being held? If it’s at the St. Anthony Hotel, defer to dressing more formally than you would for a backyard birthday bash.
2. Ask the host
Chances are you know them if you received an invitation. Simply ask what dress code they envision for their event. We’re sure they would rather you showed up at their affair dressed appropriately. If you can’t ask the host, ask a mutual friend who may know based on experience or first-hand knowledge.
3. Consider the event itself
Is it marking a special moment in someone’s life, such as a wedding, bar mitzvah, or baptism? In that case defer to dressing better than casual. These events deserve respect by wearing the proper attire. If it is a 4th of July barbeque or a college football tailgate, then you will likely be safe dressing casually.
Hopefully these tips will give you a great start on dressing the part. Look for our next post on how the Bethune & Son man interprets casual dress.
The Bethune & Son gentleman is always prepared, and oftentimes that means being properly equipped with a quality pocket-knife.
Why do I need a pocket-knife?
Think back on times when you needed something sharp ASAP - and not having anything at hand, you resorted to your keys, a pen tip, or worse yet (gasp) your teeth. Not exactly a classy solution. People are impressed by your preparedness when you come to the rescue against those nasty little foes like tags, plastic wrap, or shipping tape. It’s more than being a boy scout; being a man means being prepared for any challenge that crosses your way, big or small.
The Bethune & Son man primarily possesses a pocket-knife as a everyday utility tool. It’s also about participating in a time-honored tradition. A well crafted knife is often passed down the line from father-to-son. It becomes a part of family history, and becomes something you may look forward to passing on someday as well.
How much should I pay for a good knife?
You want something affordable, but in order to get quality you’re going to have to pay a little more than Walmart rollback prices. Anywhere from $40-70 is a good starting point, and if you can afford more, great. There's no earthly need to drop thousands for a titanium hand-crafted blade.
How long will my knife last?
Generations. Seriously, if you choose good quality and take good care of it, your knife will last forever. Invest in a blade sharpener. Blades dull with frequent use, and a sharpener will make sure your knife is in good working order whenever you may need to use it.
What kind of knife should I buy?
If you didn’t get a knife from pops, then start the tradition today and buy a quality forged knife that will last generations. For obvious reasons, you’ll want to look for a folding blade. The gentleman always values safety first. Consider a blade length under 3 inches. Chances are you won’t ever need anything longer. Some states and public spaces have restrictions on large blades, so choosing over 3 inches may require you to leave it behind a lot of the time.
You’ll also want to consider size. How bulky do you want it to be in your pocket on a regular basis? Again, blade length will play into this somewhat. Your knife’s design will also influence size. The more blades, the bulkier it will be. There are three knife designs we recommend you consider: Jack, Lockback, or a multi-blade Pen knife.
Jack knives are the classic go-to. You can identify them by the two blades that fold into the hilt. Jack knives are easy to carry, easy to use, and the two blades give you tools for large and small needs. Some may only have one blade, and that’s perfectly fine. Jack knives that lock into place are known as Lockbacks. A single blade folding lockback knife is basically the best “first” knife someone could choose, and many find it satisfactory in the long-run too.
Pen knives also fold into the hilt, and they often have multiple blades. Slightly more sophisticated, and good choice if you find that one or two blades doesn’t always cut it. Multipurpose knives may have more blades yet, and will often look like a Swiss Army knife. These can get rather bulky, so we don’t recommend them as much. Plus, how often do you need a corkscrew at a moment’s notice?
Next, decide which blade type you’d prefer. A drop blade is great for heavy tasks as it has a fuller bodied shape and is very sturdy, yet also versatile. The tanto blade is also very strong and good for heavy use, but boasts a slimmer profile than the drop. If you find yourself skinning game or cleaning up after a day out small game hunting, you might want to make sure you have a skinner blade on your knife too. Lastly, the pen blade is a great all-purpose blade for smaller activities, like opening mail or as a makeshift screwdriver.
You of course want a knife handle that is both practical and has a classic look. Our recommendation is wood. A wood handle is timeless, aesthetic, and incredibly durable. Other handles like rubber, micarta, or composite may provide you with better attributes like grip, especially if you find yourself often in wet conditions (hint, hint, fishermen).
Lastly, we could go into detail about choosing a knife based on how it was forged, whether it’s one solid piece of metal, and so forth. Honestly, keep it simple by checking for three things: good edge retention, rust resistance and ease of re-sharpening. If you want a professional opinion, we recommend you check out brand websites. That’s why Bethune & Son trusts Buck Knives - their website is wonderfully informative. Since 1945, Buck Knives has been an industry leader and forged the way with the “lockblade” style of knife. Best of all? Their knives have a forever warranty and are crafted in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Penny for our thoughts...
The Bethune & Son blog captures the lifestyle of the South Texas gentleman. From men's clothing, to recreations, food and values - this blog tells you all you need to know about being a Bethune & Son gentleman.