Our erstwhile butler Mr. Bell has moved to the outskirts of Amsterdam to manage a tulip farm and rear goats. He left us in the capable hands of his factotum and personal assistant, Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth, who is here to offer readers advice on social, sartorial and etiquette matters. Send your queries to email@example.com
Grant Jukes: As a Chap that is vertically challenged I would welcome your advice on the matter of pleats. Should one opt for flat fronted trousers or for garments with pleats, and if so, should these be forward or reverse. Also, to give more height, should one opt for turn-ups or a plain hem? I remain sir, your most obedient servant.
Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth: Au contraire, Master – it is I who have the honour of remaining your obedient servant! But down to the matter at hand, to wit, pleats. As I’m sure you already know, forward pleats – those that face a Chap’s nether regions, are the English style, while reverse pleats (facing the pockets) are somewhat Italianate and favoured by Americans.
As to flat fronted trousers – who on earth wants those? Surely a rising trouser is the thing to aim for, Master, especially when presented with a pulchritudinous lady!
No amount of trouser pleats will increase your height, I’m afraid, so regarding that particular matter I would suggest high heels, or make friends with dwarves. I can arrange the introductions if required, for I number many ‘Table Bashers’ among my associates. Consorting with those ungifted of height will make you feel like a giant among men.
Francis Hull: I was raised to obey the rule “Do not wear brown in town”, meaning don’t wear brown shoes in town, but does this rule also apply to wearing a brown hat or brown gloves in town?
Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth: Ah gloves! Lovely, shiny, skin-tight leather gloves which fit one’s digits so snugly that one’s fingerprints still leave a mark. Though I do like to remind Master that great care should be taken in a strangling situation, so as not to leave any such marks on the victim. My advice has always been ‘Too much ‘choky’ and you’ll end up in ‘chokey’, Sir! As to ‘Brown in Town’, personally I haven’t been to Town since that unfortunate incident at Albany involving the Duke of Rutland when, funnily enough, I was wearing a pair of skintight leather gloves, which were black – so perhaps this provides an answer of sorts.
Embarrassed railway guard of Durham: I come to you on a delicate and embarrassing matter. I have let the hair on my upper lip grow for some two years now. The fact of it being ginger is bad enough (as is the hair on the rest of my head, before eyebrows are raised), but owing to a relatively large philtrum, there is a pronounced gap, leading to jibes from colleagues that I am not happy with one moustache and instead have two, a witty riposte which leaves me without any immediate retort to save face. Do you have any sartorial guidance to spare my blushes, other than a rather awkward looking ‘comb-over’ between the two, or should I instead embrace my two ginger upper lip slugs?
Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth: Everyone has a bit of ginger in them, so they say. Oddly enough, I did last night. Some chums from the Highlands popped over for their annual whisky tasting, which naturally got slightly out of hand, as indeed it was supposed to. Nevertheless, I hear your plight, Master! We must fight the good fight against this absurd prejudice towards the Carrot Munchers (as they are cruelly known in certain circles). In our dungeon, shared with Brian Blessed on Thursdays, we reserve a special chamber for the orang-u-tache breed of chap, and you would be most welcome to join (not on Thursdays) the other Cherry Pickers, who twirl their luxuriant ginger plumage while listening to the joyful music of Simply Red and Rod Stewart.
Tony Carpenter: I have several pocket watches and would like to wear them, one at a time, of course and in the proper manner. Please explain pocket watch chains, including variations for single-breasted, and double-breasted waistcoats and even the modern idea of keeping the watch in a top pocket.
Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth: Master, you raise an interesting and highly pertinent query! One’s credo should always be informed by the great Beau Brummell, who averred that only three links of one’s watch chain should show outside the waistcoat pocket. However, the more modern waistcoat (and by modern I mean from the early 20th century) has a lot more space for watch chain display. The important element is that you do not insert the bar any higher than three buttons from the bottom of the waistcoat, and that the watch itself goes into the pocket opposite the hand you normally use to take it out.
As to the breast pocket insertion of a watch, this was used by Hugh Laurie in his portrayal of Bertie Wooster and, in my humble opinion, has no real benefit, especially as it leaves a large expanse of naked waistcoat where one’s watch chain would otherwise be.
Should you ever wish to visit the Gimpley residence, we have a number of chains which you are welcome to use at your leisure, though they are made for sturdier items than pocket watches, and they are affixed to the walls.
Francis Venison: I recently espied an acquaintance, who is normally very well dressed, sauntering about the local high street in a pair of pantaloons de nimes. Should I mention this when we next meet?
Mr. Gimpley-Spankworth: I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘when we meet again’, Master? I would aver that there is nothing further to discuss with this individual.
Send your sartorial/etiquette questions to firstname.lastname@example.org