Manolo for the Men Fashion and Lifestyle Advice for Men

April 17, 2006

The Ugly American

Filed under: Etiquette — Izzy @ 1:28 am

ugly American

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the U.S. State Department is teaming up with private business to improve the boorish behavior of American tourists abroad. Izzy—who thinks it obvious that if you are a guest in a foreign country, you should act a diplomat-in-training—was especially delighted to see that an etiquette guide will be distributed that, among other things, warns against dressing too casually.

Not only does the American mania for casual dress come across as rude in countries where people still care about propriety, but dressing better can actually prevent loutishness. It is all to easy to be obnoxious, to litter, or to brush off someone needing assistance while clad in a loud shirt, jean shorts, and flip-flops. But try doing that in a jacket and tie. Just as smiling can make you happy, dressing like a gentleman can turn you into one. Could this be why women love a man in uniform?


  1. So true! I am glad someone is finally thinking about this! I always do my best to dress nicely when traveling, but it is hard sometimes when you are walking a lot more than normal etc. How about some good travelwear for men? I could use some hints for my honey before our honeymoon…

    Comment by Anne — April 17, 2006 @ 1:58 am

  2. I see that the U.S. State Department has stopped pretending it gives a damn about Ugly American foreign policy, and will now focus on a better looking baseball cap for Americans abroad.

    Comment by danilo — April 17, 2006 @ 4:28 am

  3. OMG – don’t get me started on this topic! Just lastweek I had to deliver The Lecture to DH regarding proper dress for Seder…neither of us is Jewish, so he almost wouldn’t believe me when I reminded him that most Jewish people still dress for religious holidays.

    DH wears casual dress to work – honestly he could go into his office looking like ZZ Top and it wouldn’t make any difference. You would think making one small exception once a year out of respect for one’s host would not be such a big deal – but nooooo – it was a battle.

    Izzie – why are most men so childish when to comes to events that require proper dress?

    Comment by Phyllis — April 17, 2006 @ 11:18 am

  4. I gently teased one of the members of my choir when he showed up to our afternoon rehearsal in torn jeans and grungy tennis shoes yesterday (many choir members regularly wear jeans, but we wear choir robes, so only their ugly sneakers stick out). He protested, saying that he’d worn a suit all morning; he led singing at morning services. Yet, when rehearsal ended early and I told them all to take a break before the evening service, he went home and put his suit back on. I was very pleased.

    Comment by JaneC — April 17, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

  5. Too True!! But dont American just dress bad in general? This is the only country where casual non fashion rules comfort is currency here which is ashame compared to our European & Asian Couterparts

    Comment by Jetsetter — April 22, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

  6. Having just spent some time visiting Europe and being very impressed with the general men’s attire, I can wholeheartedly agree that American men would do well to dress better at all times, not just when visiting abroad.

    The Spanish and Swiss men I saw while people watching from the cafes were so dapper and radiated such amazing confidence (I also noticed this positive trait in Japan.) They all seemed to share strong principles of dress such as:

    1) Rich color is their friend, especially in their ties.
    2) Pocket squares are a must.
    3) Cut, quality materials and being “put together” are ways to express power and masculinity.

    All of these principles would be a giant shock to the average American businessman. Most American men I have spoken with–even in the big cities like New York and Chicago–all seem to share common, incorrect notions that business dress (and dressing in general) is supposed to be “boring” and make “as little noise as possible” and that only “gay guys are supposed to have fun with their clothes.” While I am not one to support Christmas tree ties with dancing reindeer, I think that making dressing well something shameful and insulting to one’s masculinity or indicative of a supposedly inferior sexual preference is so silly and downright insulting to us all as intelligent beings. Dressing well makes a man look mature, simple as that. Why are American men afraid of learning how to dress well and why do they throw in judgmental, nonsensical justifications for their beliefs? It makes them look as well as sound “lame.“

    As a woman, I can say that a man in a well cut suit, in a great fabric, that is tastefully accessorized is so terribly attractive. Chic cuff links, a stellar tie, nice shoes and a sleek wallet all help to put it together. The favored loud, two sizes too large aloha shirt, junky cargo manpri’s and dirty jogging shoes are a huge turn off. (Men of America, I implore you to stop dressing like frat boys.)

    It would be of benefit to all humanity for all American men to travel to Europe or Asia and see how the stylish live and bring some of that style mojo home with them! I guarantee, the US girls (as well as the U.S. State Department) will love it!

    Comment by Sasha Tong — September 21, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

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