How to Dress, Entertain, and Behave

A gentleman's guide to living well.

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Since 1999, British magazine The Chap has acted as an ongoing love letter to the gentlemanly days of yore. Its mission, according to its website, is to take "a wry look at the modern world through the steamed-up monocle of a more refined age, occasionally getting its sock suspenders into a twist at the unspeakable vulgarity of the 21st century."

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Now its editor, Gustav Temple, has compiled his pop-anthropological findings into the book How to Be Chap (Gestalten), a tongue-in-cheek teaching manual, showing the modern man how best to apply the winning ways of yesteryear to his contemporary life.

Here, we present 10 tips on how best to achieve the Chap life, from the man who wrote the book on the matter.

On Etiquette

A Chap becomes certifiably flabbergasted when confronted with the average brute. Manners are no small matter in the world of Chappism.
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"A modern Chap's view of etiquette will differ wildly from that of his pre-20th century counterpart. His rules of behaviour will have less to do with holding the correct fork at the table than demanding that Savile Row be maintained as the home of bespoke tailoring."

On Everyday Style

Moustache? Check. Pipe? Check. Hair boldly parted? Check. Vague aura of derring-do? Check.

"Before a Chap sets foot into the outside world, ready to wreak havoc on its bland conformity, he needs to be dressed in such a manner as both to be taken seriously by the public, but also to cause a sartorial sensation wherever he may roam."

On Formal Wear

The notorious and glorious dandy and author, Oscar Wilde. A true Chap. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images
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"Once a fellow has embraced the Chappist lifestyle, all sorts of invitations will begin to arrive on his doormat, some of them to the sorts of events he was never invited to before he became a Chap. Most of them will stipulate a dress code, and one should endeavour to maintain all the requisite items from each of the three principal formal dress codes, these being Black Tie, White Tie, and Morning Dress."

On Food

Another Chap sighting at the 2012 Chap Olympiad, where Chaps do their very best to out-Chap one another. Photograph courtesy of PYMCA/UIG

"A Chap's cupboards will be filled with the joyful and eternal comestibles that have never been in fashion and will never be out of fashion. He deliberately chooses products whose packaging has not changed for fifty years, knowing that the contents are unlikely to have changed much either."

On Sport

"Today, some Chaps might still be drawn to the upholding of ancient gentlemanly skills, but hunting, shooting, and fishing do not constitute a necessary portion of a Chap's life… [A] Chap today is more devoted to honing his skills at the cocktail party than to those activities that get his britches muddy; although it must be noted that in the English countryside there are still plenty of young men, the scions of the old aristocratic families, being taught to hunt, shoot, and fish, but there is a question mark over whether we can call them gentlemen."

On Travel

Legendary actor John Barrymore giving the three-piece suit a chance. What a Chap! Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

Why on earth would any self-respecting Chap wish to travel? Surely his very existence is rooted in the familiar and the few remnants of the old world he has managed to surround himself with at home? But this is precisely why he travels—in order to find the myriad places in the world where the beauty of the Chappist ideal still persists, and where the modern world has yet to spread its vile tentacles."

On Footwear

A tasteful touch of white in the shoe department never hurt a Chap.

"A Chap's shoes are the one thing he will not compromise on. Start your outfit with a decent pair of shoes, and the rest will follow in accordance, and you'll end up with a spectacular outfit. Start with a rotten pair of shoes and you can only go downhill."

On Home Decor

The Peacock Room, 1877, remodelled and painted by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a true Chap archetype. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

"A Chap is not a fan of light, space, and uncluttered surroundings. Put him into a modern apartment full of huge windows and laminated wooden floors and he will wither, like a tropical plant placed in a freezing bathroom. The words of Peter O'Toole will inform his choice of interior decor: 'I hate light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another.'"

On Automobiles

"Put a Chap behind the wheel of his favorite vintage motor vehicle, and you will see a man at one with the universe, for his automobile is the perfect embodiment of all that he holds dear."

On Entertainment

Truman Capote at Steve Rubell's Birthday Party, doing his part and carrying the Chap torch well into the 20th century. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

"It is not difficult to entertain a Chap, though it is very easy to offend him with the wrong entertainment. This is one of the few areas where technology has helped, rather than hindered, the progress of a Chap. The most obscure B-movie from the 1950s is now easily available on DVD, and if it isn't, some other Chap somewhere in the world will be selling a copy of it on eBay."

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For more, see gestalten.com. And to read Temple's publication, The Chap, head to thechap.co.uk.

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