The Seven-Fold Tie–the most luxurious of all men’s ties

Exquisite Ties
It is oftentimes said that a gentleman should never compromise on the quality of his shoes, his belt, or his necktie, for they are barometers of taste. A tie is a deceptively simple accessory: The making of a standard long-tie involves approximately 25 steps. A good tie should be made by hand—not by machine—of an exquisite shell (outer) fabric and an excellent lining and interlining. But the crème de la crème of long-ties is the “self-tip, seven-fold tie,” made by hand of a luxurious fabric, with the shell fabric being folded inward upon itself as the tie is being shaped, thereby eliminating the need for any interlining or lining of other fabrics. Consequently, the seven-fold tie consumes more than twice the amount of the shell fabric than other handmade ties, and, as a result, typically costs more than twice as much. But for the connoisseur, the seven-fold tie, with its special “finishes” such as “self-tips,” a “self-loop,” hand-crocheted bar tacks, and a hand-tacked label reward its wearer tenfold. And immediately upon beholding such a tie, one senses its special attributes. As is said in the trade, a seven-fold tie possesses a superior “hand.”

What Every Gentleman Should Know About Cummerbunds

[ Like tailcoats, cummerbunds are increasingly appearing outdated—as if from another age and time. But popular or not, they are never worn with double-breasted tuxedo jackets since those jackets should not be worn unbuttoned. A 21st-century gentleman who insists on wearing a cummerbund (And he would be totally justified in doing so) should be certain to position the open edges of its pleats facing upwards, a vestige from the days when evening pants did not have pockets and the upward-facing pleats were used to store theater tickets and the like. And despite trends to the contrary, where everything from ruby-red satin to Madras plaid to kente cloth cummerbunds and matching bowties are worn, “black tie” means a black tie. And cummerbunds should follow suit. (A viable alternative to a cummerbund is an evening waistcoat of black silk or the main fabric of the tuxedo. A white waistcoat made of the same fabric as the shirt, but of a heavier weight, is also permissible. Unlike regular vests, where the lowest button is traditionally left unbuttoned, all buttons of a formal waistcoat are buttoned).

The word “cummerband” has been included in the English dictionary since 1616. It is originally a Persian genitive phrase, “kamar-bandi,”combining the words “kamar”(waist) and “bandi” (band). The cummerbund was adopted by British military officers in colonial India as an alternative to a waistcoat (vest) and as a decorative covering for the belt. Eventually, by the Victorian era, the accessory had found its way into civilian use. By the 1920s the cummerbund had taken its present form—with pleats. Since the first decade of the 21st century, with tuxedos taking on the overall slimmer fit of modern men’s suits in general, the cummerbund has seen a decline as it tends to add visible bulk to a waistline which has been “narrowed” by the shorter, modern, form-fitting tuxedo jackets. On the other hand, cummerbunds, when of the same color as the trousers, tend to create the illusion of elongated legs—even if at the expense of the illusion of a shortened torso. In the end, then, cummerbunds tend to look best on tall, slender men and men with V-shaped torsos, neither body type being particularly common amongst adult males. ]

How To Care For Men’s Shoes

Shoe Care
A pair of superior men’s leather shoes, made with Goodyear welt construction (which allows for repeated resoling), can last for years—sometimes decades—if properly cared for. Shoe trees of cedar or some other aromatic wood that absorbs moisture and perspiration while deodorizing are essential to shoe-preservation. Once shoes are removed from the feet, shoe trees should be inserted into the shoes. Properly sized shoe trees are essential for maintaining the shape of shoe-uppers, keeping them crease-free for years. (Without shoe trees, shoe uppers will begin to show signs of wear after just three or four wearings). Since shoe trees are of left-foot, right-foot construction, special attention should be paid when inserting them so as to ensure that they are placed into the corresponding shoe. A misplaced shoe tree, if left in a shoe for several days, can slightly compromise the shape, and therefore fit, of the shoe. Shoe trees are sized either numerically (e.g., 8, 10, 12, 14) or by range (e.g., S, M, L, XL). Though not inexpensive, good-quality shoe trees can last a lifetime and are worth every penny spent to acquire them. Each pair of leather shoes should have its own pair of shoe trees.

Shoes should be permitted to “rest” for two or three days between wearings, thereby allowing the shoes to dry out and reshape (with the aid of shoe trees). Shoe racks of cedar (such as those manufactured by Jos. A. Bank) or some other aromatic wood are also essential to the overall preservation of shoes: Shoe racks keep the soles of shoes off the floor, thereby allowing air to circulate under the shoes as they are “resting” or not in use. (Oftentimes, leather soles, if placed directly onto the floor without having been thoroughly dried out, will accumulate mold, which, over time, can compromise the integrity of the soles).

The uppers of patent leather shoes tend to crack if not properly cared for. To prevent cracking, immediately after being removed from the feet, and after shoe trees have been inserted into the shoes, the uppers should be wiped clean with a damp cloth then hand-rubbed with a very thin coat of petroleum jelly, which should be buffed off with a clean, dry cloth the following day. The petroleum jelly serves to keep the patent leather finish supple.

Leather shoes tend to become salt-stained during the winter months in regions of the world where salt is used to protect streets in snowy and icy weather. To remove those unsightly salt-residue markings, a simple, inexpensive, homemade formula is most effective: one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of water. Using a clean cloth or paper towel that has been moistened in the vinegar-water solution, the salt stains should be gently wiped, the stains disappearing almost instantaneously.

A gentleman who lacks the time or skill to wax and shine his shoes should have them professionally maintained. Most hotels, train stations, bus terminals, and airports have reputable shoe maintenance personnel or outlets. Attendants should be tipped at least twenty percent of the fee charged.

Some men wear shoe taps on the heels and/or toes of their shoes. Since each man wears his shoes differently, it is best that a gentleman wear his shoes three or four times before applying shoe taps so that as indicated by wear, the shoe repairperson will know precisely where to attach the protective taps.

Athletic shoes, because of their rubber content, tend to “breath” less and, as a result, accumulate odor more so than shoes made of other materials. Moisture- and perspiration-absorbing socks, therefore, should always be worn with athletic, rubber-soled shoes. Fortunately, the rubber content of athletic shoes also allows them to withstand washing with soap and water. Whenever athletic shoes are washed, they should be allowed to thoroughly sun-dry for a day or two before being worn again.

Previously worn shoes being packed for travel should be enclosed in plastic bags or shoe bags to prevent shoe soles from contaminating other items in a gentleman’s luggage.

The Etiquette of Smoking at the Formal Dining Table

Cigarettes and Ash Trays
There was a time when it was fashionable to smoke; and smoking at the dinner table—even during dinner—was acceptable. Elizabeth L. Post, in the The New Emily Post’s Etiquette (1975), writes in the book’s section on formal dinners, “Whether or not the hostess and her husband smoke, she sees that her guests are supplied with ashtrays and cigarettes. A small ashtray is put at each place, and cigarettes are found on the table, either in a small holder in front of each diner or in larger holders spaced evenly about the table. Smokers should follow the usual rules of good smoking manners more strictly at the table than at any other time.” Amy Vanderbilt, however, in her Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette (1967), states what would prove to become the prevailing attitude towards smoking at the 21st-century dinner table: “It is poor manners for a guest to sit down to a table, formally set or otherwise, with a lighted cigarette in his hand. At a formal table he may well find no place for the ashes or finished cigarette (if the hostess takes pride in her cuisine) and will be forced to leave the table with his cigarette or ask for an ash tray. At formal dinners cigarettes are usually not placed on the table until the dessert is served, if then.” Vanderbilt does go on to say, however, in a chapter dedicated to international customs, that “In England at public dinners there is no smoking before the ‘Queen’s Toast,’ the first toast offered. This is a rule foreigners are certainly expected to know and must observe.”

Today, smoking during a meal is almost unheard of—even amongst smokers. And non-smokers are afforded veto powers at the dinner table, even when dining alfresco.

The Correct Way to Eat a Sandwich in a Formal Setting


To insist that a sandwich be eaten with knife and fork is to misunderstand the logic behind the invention of the sandwich in the first place.

While the use of  word “sandwich” to describe meat or some other ingredient placed between two or more slices of bread to be conveniently eaten in the hands is attributed to the 18th-century English aristocrat John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who, according to legend, one evening, while playing cards and not inclined towards interrupting the game or soiling his hands in the process of eating requested that his servant bring him a “piece of meat tucked between two slabs of bread,” the concept of conveying food to the mouth held between bread is much more ancient, as evidenced by the traditional cuisines of North Africa and the Middle East which routinely use flat breads, in lieu of forks and spoons, to pick up meats and other ingredients from the plate in order to convey them to the mouth.  But if the birthplace of the concept of the sandwich is the ancient world, certainly its international success is due to America—perhaps because of that country’s casual, fast-paced approach to life.

It is unlikely that sandwiches will be served as a course during a formal dinner. But they are oftentimes presented as options on the menus of many formal restaurants—especially those in America or in regions of the world influenced by her. And even in those venues, as formal as they may be, a gentleman is totally in compliance with the laws of etiquette to pick up his sandwich with his hands even though a fork and knife may have been provided—and they invariably will be. But again, common sense should prevail, for one can be “wrong” even though he is within his rights. The purpose of manners is to make others feel comfortable, not to prove social points. So, for example, if the sandwich is exceptionally large, it should first be halved or even quartered with a knife and fork and then eaten in the fingers; likewise, if the sandwich is particularly messy or unstable, it should be eaten in its entirety with a knife and fork.  At the end of the day, a gentleman should make sure that his method of eating does not offend or disrupt the comfort of those in his company or immediate vicinity.

The Etiquette of Giving and Receiving Gifts in Japan

The Gift-Giving Etiquette of Japan


-When visiting a person’s home, a gift should be given to the host/hostess.

-Gifts should be unwrapped carefully in front of the giver.  One should not rip open the wrapping; it should be carefully undone (Rationale: The Japanese history of origami and the love of paper).

-The numbers 4 and 9 are considered unlucky. Number 4 is “shi,” which is the same word used for “death”; and the number 9 is “ku,” which is the same word as “suffering.”  Gifts in sets of four or nine, therefore, should never be given.

-Items should be given and received with both hands.

The Etiquette of Giving and Receiving Gifts in India

The Gift-Giving/-Receiving Etiquette of India

-It is believed that the giving of gifts eases transition to the next life. (The sincerity of the gift, therefore, is of paramount importance).-It is customary to give gifts of cash to celebrate life’s major events.

-Yellow, red, and green are regarded as lucky colors. Those colors are therefore typically used for gift-wrapping paper.

-It is not necessary to appear at a house with a gift for the host/hostess.

-Never give gifts of frangipani or other white flowers; white flowers are associated with funerals.

-Gifts are not opened immediately upon receipt.

-If a man gives a gift to a lady, he must say it is from him and a female relative.

-Gifts should be presented or received with both hands or the right hand only.  Gifts should never be presented or received with only the left hand.