Latest On Outvoices
I’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does it assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.?
Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right?
I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.)
Over the last decade, my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than works to live.
So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof).
I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now, why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching.
Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should.
It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide
Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses?
The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas.
My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry.
Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire.
I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ.
Nashville may not be a cowboy town, but with its country music roots and smaller-town history, cowboy boots are something many visitors especially associate with the city.
And you see them on tourists, who pick them up in town, as well as on the red carpets. And, of course, the rainbow is the emblem of the LGBTQ community. So, rainbow cowboy boots.
The search for that perfect pair of boots took us FAR from the promise of the ‘Buy One, Get Two Free’ special hawked to tourists from billboards. In fact, it took us all the way to Cody, Wyoming, to master bootmaker Scott Emmerich, and his Falconhead Boots, Belts, & Buckles / Tres Outlaws brand—where a custom pair of handmade boots can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, the boots on our cover were a custom pair he made for a personal friend: made of vegetable tanned Kangaroo leather, these boots would have a retail value of $8,000.
Emmerich started his career as a bootmaker with a small shop in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1981. “In the beginning,” he told one interviewer, “it was basically just custom handmade boots and matching belts, then came buckles.” As his business grew, he moved to progressively larger stores. “I went from less than 50 handmade pairs of boots … to thousands.”
Over time, his name became synonymous with the best-made, flashy cowboy boot, and he drew the attention of many in the entertainment and music industries. While his boots have graced many Nashville artists, Emmerich maintains a confidentiality code with his customers. And that makes sense as his custom boots are very personally tuned to specific clients.
When Emmerich makes a custom pair of boots, he sends out a bio-foam kit to get impressions of the client’s feet. Then he designs the boots based on the customer’s physiology. The real creativity comes in conveying the personality of the client through a story-boarded creative process. “The design tells the story of each customer in a master designed boot.”
Those wishing to have a custom pair designed would begin the process by contacting him using the information on his site, shopfalconhead.com, beginning the process. Then, after the foam impressions are taken, clients work with Emmerich, giving him details about what they want in a design. Depending on the detail and design, the process can take 4 to 8 weeks at that point. Tooling one of his boots, Emmerich says, “is extensive and time consuming.” And if you visit his website, you’ll see why: the exquisite detail in event the boots he stocks is amazing. The artistry, and the materials, of course, means that custom boots will run somewhere between $2,500 and $25,000 in most cases.
But do check out what he’s stocking on his site, and if you ever find yourself in Cody, Wyoming, you can also visit his store to see them in person.
In the South, we are congenial folk, quick to offer a hug, a glass of sweet tea, and an inquiry about one’s mother. Our porches are open to passersby and we are always ready to add another plate to the dinner table.
But now, masks are mandated and social distancing is our new reality. Clearly, the rules of engagement have changed. Are social niceties dead? Is professional attire a thing of the past? Are relationships on hold indefinitely?
John Bridges, author of several popular etiquette books, including, How to be a Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners, says coping with COVID-19 is less about rules and political correctness than behaving civilly, having a bit of common sense, and staying the course.
What should you do when you are wearing a mask in public, but someone else isn’t?
Bridges: I just think you get out of their way. You get away from them. What else can you do? Some people think you should confront them, but why would you do that? That just forces a confrontation. No, you don’t want to do that. Just behave yourself. Behave yourself!
So you shouldn’t call people out who aren’t social distancing or wearing masks?
Bridges: Goodness, no! I mean, you can, but do you want them to punch you out? What’s the point of that? I suppose you could glare at them but confront them? No.
What if I’m invited to go out to dinner, and I just don’t feel comfortable?
Bridges: If you’re invited to something and you don’t feel comfortable going, I think you certainly have the reason or excuse that you are concerned about your health. I was invited to a dinner party a couple of weeks ago by some dear friends, and I had to say, “I love you, but no, I can’t.” And they weren’t insulted.
What are the rules for dating during a pandemic?
Bridges: I think it’s dangerous dating online, looking for somebody. If you are trolling then maybe trolls are what you’ll get. And if you are going to set up a date with them, how much of a date is that going to be? I suppose you can set up a video date, but what’s the point of it? Unless, of course, well, we don’t need to get into what might be going on off-screen!
What are the rules for manners in a Zoom (video conference) meeting?
Bridges: If you don’t know how to say hello to people, if you don’t know how to wait for another person to finish, if you don’t know how to follow an agenda, that’s a traditional problem. That’s a real life problem. True, it is difficult to keep people from talking over each other, but you have to learn to be patient and courteous. Courtesy is all that is.
What about attire for a Zoom meeting? Do I need to dress up?
Bridges: You see a lot of people in T-shirts, people who haven’t had a haircut, men who haven’t shaved, that kind of stuff. There’s no reason you shouldn’t dress up a little bit. At least dress neatly. Maybe cleanup the clutter in the room. It makes you feel better when you dress up a little bit. Today, this seersucker suit I’m wearing, I haven’t had it on in five months. Summer’s passing and I want to wear it. It makes me feel better.
If a friend has a quick wedding at the courthouse or in their backyard and sends out an announcement, do good manners require me to get them an expensive wedding gift?
Bridges: Only a few people can be invited to these things and if you weren’t invited I don’t think you necessarily have to send a gift. But if you want to send a gift, you can spend what you want. There are no real rules about that. I would say find out if they have a wedding registry, and select something from that. If they don’t, then simply call them up and ask what they need, or send over a bottle of wine. I have been reading about some of these small “COVID weddings” and some of them sound like they are really quite nice. A lovely private time with family.
There are so many people out there who deserve our thanks, especially frontline workers. What’s the best way to show appreciation?
Bridges: The best way to show your thanks is on a person-to-person basis. At the grocery store you should say “thank you,” as often as you can, but that’s what you ought to be doing anyhow if you have nice manners. If you want to give money to fundraisers or put signs in your yard, that’s good too, but I think the only way you can guarantee people are going to know you appreciate them is to tell them yourself. Putting things on social media is fine but really it can make you look like you are trying to pat yourself on the back and the frontline worker may never see it. Person to person is best.
Should we be tipping more during the pandemic, like when you get carryout?
Bridges: I probably am tipping pretty heavily these days because I go out one day a week to a restaurant and buy all my entrees for the next week. So I feel like it’s the right thing to tip pretty well on that. I don’t get food delivered, but if you order a pizza or some other meal delivered, I would say add a decent tip when you place the order and be sure to let the delivery person know you’ve done that. But it’s your decision to make.
What’s the best way to stay in touch with loved ones you are unable to visit due to health concerns?
Bridges: I think nothing beats a telephone call. Nothing. It’s important for them to hear your voice. And it’s important for you to use your voice to connect with them. That’s the best way to do it. If you struggle with knowing what to talk about, my suggestion is make a list of things that have happened recently so you have some good talking points. But you don’t have to talk for hours. I find myself cutting off conversations before I think they’ve gone on too long.
What’s the key to getting through these turbulent times?
Bridges: I know people have kids who aren’t in school but I also see kids out in the yard playing and at least that’s something. Even if we are on the precipice of some awful thing, we’ve got to remain in good spirits through this. Find the good. I compare it to the AIDS generation, going through that, it was such a sad thing, such a bad thing, such a deadly thing. Of course you were going to funerals all the time. But you had to keep upbeat through it. You couldn’t just jump off the cliff. I think it’s about realizing we may be at the edge, but don't jump off. Look, it’s going to be better. It just is. We just have to get through it.
How To Be A Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners, and other books by John Bridges, are available online and at Brooks Brothers Stores.
Packer: Once used to describe a lesbian who identifies as a man and wears (packs) a flaccid penis daily, the term is now used more widely to describe a masculine identified lesbian who is addicted to loving the lipsticks and the poodles.
It may have something to do with penis envy, but we're not sure. It's difficult to put a finger on just exactly what it means to be a packer. A good portion of a packer's identity can be defined in the broad strokes of the packer description, but there are finer nuances between the lines (and legs) of each packer that can't be generalized to them all or fully explained in this space. So let’s just stick to the broad strokes and leave details of the packin' between the hot, pistol-packing lesbos and their lady loves.
All packers have a penchant for wearing men's clothes from shoes to belts and jackets. Men’s wallets, especially those on chains, are very appealing to the packer. It is a safe bet that your packer totes pocket knife and shies away from gaudy accessories. The only jewelry her tough and rugged ears will ever see are simple wire hoops or perhaps a simple diamond stud on a special occasion. Short hair is not a necessity to the identity of a packer but is usually the norm and everyday is a good day for a ball cap.
The packer has the hardest lot of almost all lesbians because they are only attracted to, and usually addictively so, to the lipstick and the poodle. Because of this, they often are in a hurry to get home lest they be in trouble for prowling around and wasting time.
They not only hold down jobs, they have to keep the home fires burning for their high maintenance love interests. Don’t feel too sorry for them though, they are willing to be pussy whipped as long as they get to keep their toys, tools, egos and watch football on occasion.
Their poodles usually make sure that they have nice clothes to wear so clothes or gift certificates are not a good idea for a Christmas gift. Tools are always a safe bet but a bit boring. The best thing you could do for a packer is set her poodle up with another poodle for a day of shopping so that the Packer can sneak off to the local sports bar and enjoy a beer in peace with her buddies.
Or consider making a donation in the packer's name to one of the many GLBT-rights organizations such as the Tennessee Equality Project, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition or national groups such as PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign.