Welcome to A Gentleman's Quest for the Perfect Night Out, a four-part guide written by etiquette expert John Bridges meant to instruct our more testosteroney readers on how to comport themselves during the evening hours. With the help of Clear Men Scalp Therapy, which gives you 100% dandruff protection* (because, after all, perfect hair ensures a perfect night), it will cover all the man-questions you were always curious about, but were too ashamed to ask your dad. Don't worry. This is a safe space.
The challenges of figuring out what to wear for a night on the town, or at "da club," or hopping the bars are two-fold. Yeah, a guy wants to fit in, but he also wants to stand out.
When everybody — male or female — is wearing the same mini-brimmed gray fedora (which, by the way, went out of style after sexy was brought back in '06), an identity crisis inevitably looms. That's why, when the sun starts threatening to set on a Friday, a man should already know the appropriate attire for his evening out.
First off, it's lamentable that most shirttails are no longer tuckable, but that doesn't mean you can't try — especially if you're wearing a jacket. And, yes, there are times when you will want to wear a jacket. That jacket should probably be black, and you should be able to button it, even if you choose not to.
Lest any questions be raised, a jacket is always right if you're headed to a bar where the drinks cost more than $12, or to a restaurant where the servers do not wear nametags. It is also the default option if you're headed any place where the sound level allows two people to conduct a decent conversation. (A decent conversation, by the way, does not consist of back-and-forth texting.) A jacket can lead to trouble, however, if dancing seems likely, since that means it will have to be checked. Which means you will probably forget it.
Other sartorial decisions to keep in mind: except in especially fancy restaurants, jeans are virtually inescapable, and irreproachable. The only caution is that they really ought to look as if you have previously worn them. If they look like they just came off a hanger from the Men's Casual Department, you might as well just wear a pair of your father's khakis.
Baseball caps may also seem inevitable, but that doesn't make them right, especially not after dark since — in most places — there is very little sunshine at night, and since the ostensible function of a cap is to keep the sun out of the eyes of truck drivers and gum-chewing outfielders.
Even on the most casual night out, a night that screams for a t-shirt, the question is, first and foremost, one of cleanliness. When it comes to the slogans printed on a t-shirt, however, the question may also be one of godliness. Not everyone, no matter how many beers they have consumed, may be amused by what you did one night at a crawfish bar in New Orleans.
Appropriateness, after all, is the ultimate criterion. And no, there has never been an evening when a wife-beater is appropriate. Never.
Etiquette expert John Bridges is the author of How to Be a Gentleman, and is also the coauthor, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society.
*No visible flakes with regular use.
Image by Alexandra Cannon