Debrett’s is a specialist publisher, founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The name "Debrett's" honours John Debrett. This genealogical guide to the British aristocracy is published today under the name Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage, a book which includes a short history of the family of each titleholder. The editor of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage is Charles Kidd.
These days, being a gent involves a lot more than standing up when a lady enters the room.
BY DAVID NICHOLLS | 25 OCTOBER 2010 in The Telegraph
There have been few occasions in my life where I thought to myself, 'Ah, I must consult Debrett's on that matter.' That's because - like a lot of people I suspect - I have a slightly out of date perception of what Debrett's is all about. The publishing house, founded by John Debrett in the 18th century, is best known for its Peerage and Barontage reference books which map out the genealogy of the British aristocracy.
Over the last ten years or so though, it has undergone an unofficial modernisation programme, which has seen its output expand into titles including Manners for Men, Etiquette for Girls and
Find out more about Movember 2010
My favourite is one that I've only just come across, called Guide for the Modern Gentleman. Covering chapters including Gastronomy, At Work, Maintenance and Time Off, it offers authoritative advice on getting every aspect of the modern man's life 'right'. Rather than coming across as dry and prescriptive, it has a marvellously light touch, and comes with regular injections of trivia humour.
In the two days that I've had my copy I've learned 1) that it's okay for a man to own the Anthology album by Diana Ross and the Supremes; 2) how to differentiate a hybrid bike from a touring bike, from a track bike, from a road bike etc; 3) that there is an extant law which states that taxis in the City of London are not allowed to carry rabid dogs or corpses and; 4) the correct way to eat sushi (and not to point with chopsticks). These are all part of what it takes to be a modern gentleman.
Fun stuff aside, the guide also contains a huge amount of truly useful information, which serves as the backbone to this book. A section on suit and shirt details for example, is packed with invaluable advice whether you're buying bespoke or off-the-peg.
Here's an excerpt that details the anatomy of the shirt and what to look for when you're buying one (refer to the gallery above for the accompanying illustration).
THE YOKES: the whole shirt hangs from here. If it doesn't fit, then the shirt won't fit.
ARMHOLES: not so high as to hit the front and the back of the arm.
SLEEVES: these must be long enough to show enough cuff at the end of the suit jacket. They should be tight enough to look good, but loose enough to allow plenty of movement. Wear the jacket you will be wearing with your shirt when you buy.
FRONT: unless you have a large stomach, the front should be close-fitting and flat, as the fullness of a shirt should be contained in the back. A larger waistband may mean more room is required at the front of the shirt.
CUFF: generally, the cuff should end four and half inches from your thumb. Cuff linings can add flair and structure. Double cuffs fit cufflinks and can be altered to accommodate any type of cufflink from square to round, mitred to bar. Bring the cufflink you intend to wear with your shirt when you have it fitted.
TAILS: a shirt should be long enough to ensure that it never pops out of the waistband during the day. Take advice from your tailor on the appropriate length.
COLLAR: collar shape depends on shape of face, shoulder slope, style of jacket and size of tie-knot. A narrow tie will suit a more traditional collar, while anyone who insists on a footballers' tie knots will require a wide, cut-away collar. If the style of tie you wear changes, your tailor can change your shirt's collar to accommodate this. To check whether your collar fits, you should be able to fit three fingers under it at the side of the neck. Always wear a collar stay, too, unless you are wearing a button-down shirt.
POCKETS: pockets spoil the line of a shirt and unless you require them for a specific reason - as somewhere to carry your credit cards or glasses for example - steer clear of them. If you must have pockets, then have one on either side to balance the shirt. It won't look good with a suit but will work more casually.
BACK: shoulder pleats will allow for fullness in the back and permit free movement. For a slim-fit shirt, a centre pleat is required. A baggy shirt won't do your profile any favours.
BUTTONS: four-hole buttons are generally sewn on with a machine and, therefore, lessen the bespoke impact of your shirt. Some tailors will sew three-hole or six-hole buttons- and use brightly coloured thread-to highlight the shirt's bespoke qualities. Buttons can be hidden by a fly-front, if necessary, though the shirt may look oddly bare.
WATCHES: a made-to-measure shirt can be styled to allow for slim, medium-sized and large watches. Wear the watch you intend to wear with your shirt at the fitting.
Guide for the Modern Gentleman (Debrett's, £15)
In support of Movember , the month long initiative that raises money for men's health charities, Debrett's has produced a limited edition Movember version of the the Guide for the Modern Gentleman which will be awarded to participants who raise more than £1000.
From what underwear to choose to how to chat up women: Modern gentlemen's guide to etiquette goes on sale
By JAMES TOZER
UPDATED: 15:51 GMT, 23 September 2008 in The Daily Mail online
Is it still right for a man to open a car door for a woman before getting in himself?
Should men use moisturiser, and is it acceptable to look at social networking sites to check up on a potential date?
These are just some of the vexing – or trivial, depending on your point of view – questions addressed by a book on how to be a ‘modern gentleman’.
Published by etiquette specialists Debrett’s, the aim is to assist today’s man through such minefields as style, manners and office politics.
Its verdicts on the above dilemmas are that it is indeed still considered courteous for a man to open a car door for a woman, that men should not be afraid of skin products, and that there’s nothing wrong with a little internet research before a date.
Debrett’s Guide For The Modern Gentleman covers ground from buying the right type of shoes to basic cookery, and has tips ranging from chat-up lines to how to get an upgrade on a flight.
Billed as ‘a compendium of masculinity’, it also gives bedroom advice from an anonymous ‘Mrs Debrett’, explains how to paint the ultimate bachelor pad and provides a ‘bluffer’s guide’ to the opera.
Editor Jo Bryant said the book was intended as a light-hearted way of updating traditional questions of chivalry and style to the modern world.
‘It’s an ultimate celebration of all things male, ranging from gastronomy and travel to how to bullet-proof your car,’ she added.
The 192-page book advises that instinctive gestures work better than contrived acts of chivalry and instructs men to spend time making sure they look good, with a decent
haircut, smart, ironed clothes and well-polished shoes.
It ranges from how to order a made-to-measure suit to beachwear – here, thongs are only for those ‘style-free and rich enough not to care’.
But, while talk of suitable weekend luggage to squeeze into the boot of a sports car or what to wear on board a yacht suggests that being a gentleman remains a privilege for the well off, Mrs Bryant insisted otherwise.
‘You can make it as expensive or cheap as you like,’ she said.
‘It’s not just about being polite. It’s more about natural finesse and charm.
‘It’s about being the guy people want to be around.’