A True Act of Rebellion
I feel an obligation to share a set of new values, or rather rescuing values of old, for our times. Strange times they have been, and frankly still are.
After the past five decades of increased casualization of society, it seems at first glance there is no rhyme or reason to how people present and conduct themselves in public. Thus, wearing a coat and tie have become symbols of rebellion as well as for a gentleman.
By "gentleman," I mean nobility of character, not wealth that prevents a need or desire for work. A gentleman treats everyone with equal respect and dignity, always does his best, helps others when the opportunity arises, and leads with good example in manners and savoir vivre. That includes being serious when required or injecting a contagious joie de vivre into the mix. Modern gentlemen work for a living but are also free to enjoy beauty, culture, and aesthetics. Art and beauty are what we live for, after all.
Being a rebel has always seemed natural for me, since I was a rock and roller, skateboarder, and punk rocker in my youth long before I discovered tailoring. My teenage days were spent rebelling against the system, men in suits, and authority figures (these last two happened to overlap more often than not). As I approach my middle life, I have become an authority figure in my own right, as a father and as a lawyer. However, I found a middle ground to express some character, individuality, and personality in my dress, conduct, and speech all while keeping it professional.
Being a gentleman, in my view, does not require suppression of personality, individual quirks, and eccentricities (within the realm of good taste of course). Yes, I am aware the last phrase is paradoxical but c’est la vie. Good taste may mean cool, elegant, louche, smart, relaxed, casual—it shows awareness of time/place, shows off with a degree of restraint, and it must invariably be confident. That last trait implies comfort, inside one's own skin and the outermost layers covering it in turn. That is the root of style: confidence to be comfortable with oneself first and foremost. Comfortable enough to wear whatever you please without ostentation, free of contrivance, with effortless and natural flow. Some call it elegance, grace, or confidence in movement. I call it style. Comfortably Classic Style to be precise, which has room to breathe and improvise free of inflexible restraints from times past, while firmly rooted to traditional, timeless menswear of the early to mid Twentieth Century.
One more thought on rebellion. There is nothing left to rebel against as far as behavior or dress codes are concerned. The vast majority of the world lives in what was formally considered underwear, namely undershirts and sweatpants. Some dare call these pseudo pajamas “soft pants,” a term which includes the ones used for jogging, sleeping, and working from home. In this vast stylistic desert, I plant my flag and start an oasis.
Perhaps I have always been a gentleman even though appearances may be deceptive. A punk rocking gentleman, if you will.
I proudly hold the torch of men’s elegance and carry it forward for future generations. With a son in tow, all the more important to preserve classic menswear, timeless style, and a gentleman’s code of ethics in an increasingly cacophonic, chaotic world. Cheers and welcome to this celebration. It is only the beginning.
- Juan P. Bernal
From New Orleans
July 28th, 2021