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 said—but we will anyway—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”—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.

Colleen / Inspired to Share - Awesome post. Spot on!

dani - I love this! I’m sharing this post with everyone I know!

<3 The Daily Dani

James - I am all for this for grown-up women. Little girls should never get complimented on their appearence, and rather should be treated smart little women who like to read books and do math.

Blake - Absolutely brilliant, guys! All too often the modern “gentleman” becomes so engrossed in outward swagger that he forgets his inward style –more inherent than purchased. Great post and reminder!

http://21stcenturygent.blogspot.com/

Blake - This comment has been removed by the author.

Think Twice Style - Excellent suggestions! As a petite girl, I hate being called “cute”. And the ones for women complimenting men… so good!

Jenna Brucoli - I completely agree with everything in this post…

I think sometimes guys think women don’t handle compliments well, but they only make me uncomfortable when the complimenter is exhibiting exactly the problems you’ve listed!!

Midwestyle always knows what’s what.

Prinz Ulrich von Boffke - Great suggestions for terms to compliment another on his or her appearance.

Best Regards,

Ulrich von B.

Friday Wrap-Up: Prisencolinensinainciusol

Cameron lost his Timex and Corter for Japan bracelet in North Carolina earlier this summer. What should he replace them with? Suggestions welcome.

Quickly, to what you may have missed this week:
  • If you read nothing else, read this: GQ‘s article on Jesse Thorn of Put This On. It’s one of the most interesting style reads I’ve seen lately, and there’s just too much good philosophy on the importance of dressing well to list here. Here’s some: “What Thorn offers is a measure of practicality and instruction, and allows the average man, without stylist or sponsor, to develop a responsibility for his appearance. He doesn’t consider himself an authority—more like an advocate.” Just read it. (via GQ)
  • Earlier, we posted about hand-written notes and why you should be sending more of them. Last night, I had a dream that my favorite pen (the Pilot G2 .38, of course) went off the market. So, a nightmare, actually. Is this the best pen in the world? Yes. But feel free to discuss. (via my overactive dream mind)
  • Finally, something useful: Shani Silver, the editor of Refinery 29 Chicago, has some sure-fire ways to win that eBay bidding war you’ve been engaging in over that Gant Rugger shirt you found for cheap. (via Refinery 29)

Okay, that’s all. We’ll be hanging out here this weekend. We’ve heard it’s off the hook.

Eric - Prisencolinensinainciusol. ALL RIGHT.

thezebraowl - Chuck Klosterman, you’ve lost weight!

Blake - I picked up the 40 dollar easy reader timex with the white face, works great with the J Crew Bands… and it’s super affordable.

Re: The Pilot G2, I agree, hands down the best pen. I keep mine in a Dr Grip barrel which feels great in the hand. Also, I think the size depends on your writing method. .38 is a little too thin for me. I was a .5 guy forever but have recently switched to the .7 – to each their own! Thanks for a great blog guys!!

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.

martawillcox - ok. i too went out and thrifted some crewneck sweaters last week, mostly because the new j.crew catalogue told me to. remarkably hard to wear! they need something around the neck to break it up but…knit scarf? (too sweater-on-sweater). necklace? (too sunday school teacher).

honestly, the collar peek is the only thing i’ve found but it’s hard to look feminine. i’m hoping that as the trend settles in more looks will “look right” – my eye just needs to catch up?

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.