Gentlemanly Advice From Oscar de la Renta

The illustrious American designer argues that clothes do not make the man.

Good manners are not about dressing—a man can be dressed in the most unfortunate way and be a perfect gentleman—it’s just a shame that we’re losing a sense of decorum. People live life at such a quick pace now, but it really doesn’t take any extra time to do things in a proper way. Maybe it’s easier to put on sloppy pants and a sloppy shirt and a pair of shoes that haven’t been cleaned. It takes effort to have your pants pressed, your shirt neat, your shoes shined.

But having a wonderful life takes discipline. Once you give up on discipline, you give up on a lot of things. I always stop to ask how someone is when I talk to them on the telephone. If I get into an elevator and there are four women in it, I wait till every one passes me before I step out. I never swear—not even in private. I never yell. I don’t think in 40 years of working that I’ve ever raised my voice to someone. A gentleman treats people well at work and at home.

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