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ETIQUETTE: Compliments

A man should know how to compliment a woman’s appearance. But ask the nearest lady, and she’ll tell you that when it does happen, it too often sounds like an oafish come-on. It shouldn’t need to be saidโ€”but we will anywayโ€”that focusing all the attention on her sexuality is out of line. The art of the compliment is not a free pass to get suggestive; it’s an opportunity to make her feel great about herself. Here’s how:

Say it right away. This particular brand of admiration is appearance-based. So as soon as you see her, tell her how lovely she is. Wait too long, and it’ll seem like you’re searching for something to say.

Don’t use a 5-cent word. Avoid anything even remotely similar to hot, sexy, smoking, etc. Don’t make her feel like a piece of meat. At worst, it’s offensive; at best, it displays a glaring lack of creativity. Women are objectified enough as it is. Be the exception. And for God’s sake, don’t say she looks “nice.” It’s like telling a guy he’s “cute”โ€”the most mediocre praise.

Don’t use a 50-cent word. Steer clear of words like ravishing. Beyond the term’s sometimes vulgar connotation, it’s also a measure of grandiloquence that’s probably best reserved for your poetic efforts. Instead, opt for something simple yet charming. Beautiful, lovely, glowing, wonderful, stunning, gorgeous, and terrific are all appropriate; pick one that feels natural.

Be specific. The essence is in the details. Mention what catches your eye. Then say why you noticed it. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe are brilliant examples.

Nicole, that belt looks terrific. The dog-head buckle is so unique; it reminds me of the labrador retrievers my family had.

Love your bag, Jena. It’s classy and low-profile, but you can see how well-made and detailed it is. How long have you had it?

Similar rules apply for the dudes: Make it sincere, and be specific. “That sweater/those wingtips/that tie looks great. I’ve been looking all over the place for something like that. Where did you get it?”
He feels affirmed; you now know where to pick up some new digs.
Mean it. Don’t flatter for flattery’s sake. Be sincere the first time, and you won’t have to repeat yourself to seem genuine. And if you find yourself not noticing things things, work on becoming the kind of guy who pays attention.
Immediate, clear and heartfelt. Then leave it at that.

Photos: Maureen O’Hara and Marlon Brando (used under the Creative Commons license) from Flickr user slightlyterrific. Nicole and Jena from The Style Tribe. Cam, Jeff and Seth by us.

THRIFTY THURSDAY: Retro Crewneck

Dismayed by the fact that we haven’t published anything particularly thrifty recently, Jeff did us a solid and shouldered the responsibility of finding something sweet. On short notice, he smartly chose to focus his efforts at Seek Vintage.
Though a bit pricier (and obviously a better caliber) than Goodwill, the D.A.V., Salvation Army, Village Discount Outlet, etc., Seek almost always yields something affordable and worthwhile. This visit was no exception. He came away with a wool-blend crew neck sweater that’s the perfect palette to catapult us into fall.
He came over, we shot some photos in the harsh light of a nearby parking garage. And that’s that, mattress man.
On Jeff: Wool-blend retro crewneck sweater ($20, Seek Vintage); indigo button-up courtesy of Topman; rust-colored trousers (sale $20, reg. $70) by Zara; desert boots (sale $50 at Nordstrom Rack) by Clark’s.

WHAT NOT TO BUY

Something just because it’s a good deal.

Photo:
Khakis (31×30) from Gap, $45
blue striped shirt (attic)
Green sweater from Target, $5

ETIQUETTE: On Tipping

There’s a gulf: those outside the service industry who want to pay too little, and those in the service industry who ??

Here’s our rule of thumb:

Tip in paper.
Round the dollar up, then base your percentage off of that.
9.37 becomes 10.00, then make the total $12.
7.37 becomes 8.00; then tip a couple bucks.
Being generous is better than being tighter than a bull’s ass in fly season.

Give them the benefit of the doubt: don’t assume they’re taking a route that’s going to try to eek more money out of you. They could in fact be, but they also know the city better. This is their job.

From Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/topic/chicago-tipping-cab-drivers (Jan. 2008)

Allow me to ground you all in a more personal perspective, rather than all the hypotheticals about cab drivers.

My husband is a cab driver.

He is a great cab driver, one who keeps a clean cab, calls patrons “sir” or “m’am”, helps with baggage, and even gives free rides to cancer patients and others he has a big heart for. He showers daily, is well spoken, and more than willing to put whatever you would like on the radio.

You know what? He is still stereotyped into being an ignorant immigrant, propositioned for sex, has to deal with people getting waaaay too frisky while still in the cab, has had a gun held to his head, has to suck up the higher cost of gas while rates remain the same, and has to deal with people being jerks. He gets the perk of everyone assuming he is one of the worst drivers on the road. You know why he might take a different route than the one you think is most direct? Because he has driven the streets for so long that he knows he can get you there faster on a different route where there is not as much traffic or not as many traffic signals. It is only in his best interest to get you there as fast as he can, because he has another fare to pick up. More fares is always better.

Talking in generalities doesn’t really help. What if we started talking about all the salespeople? Or contractors? Or personal trainers? Some are great, some are poor.

But if you experience great service, it is worth a great tip. Period. And a great tip is 25%. A good tip is 20%. An ok tip is 15%. If your ride is less than a $5 fare, tipping a between $1-$2 is appropriate. On all fares, you can round to the dollar higher, and then base your percentage on that.

And, if you have a great cabbie, ask for his cell number so you can use his business in the future. My partner has plenty of clients who have an ongoing working relationship because they set up fares in advance, for example a 4 am pick up to Ohare.

NEW INTEL: “Made Right Here”

We just caught wind of a sweet new venture, and we want you know about it. American extraordinaires Joe Gannon, Max Wastler and Matt Springer announced a new T.V. project today. Taking into account the other made-in-America shows over the years, this is one of the most original ideas we’ve seen in quite a while.


It’s called “Made Right Here,” and it’s dedicated to showcasing American-made products that have stayed strong by remaining here instead of going overseas. At its heart, it’s about story. The story of Billy Moore (Cause and Effect), the unconventional Tennessee belt maker who I wrote about last week. The story of Imogene + Willie, the denim makers who watched sadly as their parent company moved production to Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The story of Pointer Brand, the outerwear maker that sources its materials from Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina, and elsewhere in the U.S.โ€”and has since 1913. The story of people.
And it follows Max and Joe as they take a turn at making these items themselves. Here’s Max:
“I say we made… Really, we tried and failed to make all these things. This is part of the story, too. These are craftspeople who’ve dedicated their lives to mastering a skill, a skill that is really tough to do.”

There it is: the essence of why American craft is important, why it costs a little more and why peoples’ livelihoods depend on you voting with your dollar. Give it a watch, and tell everyone you know.

We’re proud to call these talented guys our friends.
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