Hello everyone, and welcome to The Rakish Man. My name is Léon Philippe and I am here with all the right responses to your sartorial queries. I’ve poured my first glass of Grand Marnier, so let’s get started.

Dear Léon,

I’ve been fortunate in life in many ways but not in love. I’m not extremely outgoing nor strikingly handsome, so sometimes it’s hard for me to attract anyone’s notice. But I’m in a position now that allows me to invest in upgrading my style, and I was hoping to do that with a thought towards catching the eye of some discerning lady. So what should a man wear if he wants to appeal to potential mates?

Loveless in Lexington

Dear Loveless,

First of all, never use such a vulgar word as “investment” in reference to such a sublime subject as style. Of course clothes must sometimes be acquired and repaired with money, but we will drive out from our hallowed homespun temple any admission of this unfortunate fact. The tailored life is no ledger domain.

Now, back to your query. Some have suggested that the feminine gaze is not worthy prey for such fine bait as menswear. But no man is an island, and even the most cloistered gentleman will at times want for companionship. It stands to reason that he should present himself so as to please his companions.

But while I recognize the question, I, being not a woman, can find no answer within my own aesthetic lexicon. So I will pass on some advice from the woman whose mind I have the good fortune to know best: Jane Austen. Shall we not investigate how Ms. Austen clothed her leading men and proceed from there?

Unfortunately, we shall not. For as far as I can tell, in the entirety of Jane Austen’s work, not one piece of male dress is described. Perhaps this lesson provides a complement to Austen’s warning that “It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged, the mull, or the jackonet.”

In any case, without direct textual support, I will have to draw from screen adaptations of Austen stories. Those I have seen (two versions of Pride and Prejudice, one Sense and Sensibility) have all been directed by men, so we must hope that Ms. Austen’s feminine sense and sensibility nevertheless shines through. You see the idea from the pictures above. Dark coat, white shirt and neckcloth, buff breeches, and knee-high boots. These films seem to be quite popular with ladies still today, so I can assure you that such a costume will have them steaming with wonton desire.

I look forward to hearing of your more diversified happiness, Loveless. And by the by, as I have now shared some of my good fortune with you, perhaps you can share some of your fortune with me. Any gift sent care of myself to the No Man Walks Alone headquarters in New York will surely reach me in good time.


Ed. note: If you have a query for The Rakish Man, please send an email to david at nomanwalksalone  dot com and I will make sure he sees it.