There’s a kind of excitement and satisfaction a man gets when he puts on a suit he actually likes wearing.
I’m in Kurt Foster’s room handing him a black suit and helping him dress up for our photo shoot. Kurt stares into the mirror and examines how well the suit fits. He lifts his arms forward and backward, and then side-to-side, and assesses how well the suit moves and flows unbuttoned. He then places his hands on his hips, watching how the suit drapes, a stance of power. Kurt continues by buttoning the top button of his suit, and acknowledging the natural V-line that it forms when it’s buttoned. Satisfied at how his chest and upper body appears, he turns around to observe his back in the mirror, reviewing how the cut and tailoring broadens both his back and shoulders, giving the appearance of strength and dominance. He turns to the mirror again, fixes his chestnut-colored hair, straightens up his black tie, clips his tie bar, and then smiles.
Of course Kurt and I aren’t quite done.
While his suit and tie combo might be suitable for the pages of GQ magazine, we put the finishing touches to his suit with one small accessory that makes quite the big difference: a pocket square. You see, a pocket square is like an exclamation mark; it is an accessory that adds to your personality. You can choose to have it complement your shirt and tie or not. Pocket squares come in solids and patterns and tipped (colored stitching). There’s also various ways to fold it from the classic square to the two peaks. It’s up to you!
I take out an Urbane + Gallant pocket square and fold it in half across, and then fold it once more almost half up. Then, I tuck it in the breast pocket of Kurt’s suit so that only the straight edge with the black stitching is exposed. Taking one last look into the mirror, Kurt smirks, pleased to see how well we’ve put him together. It’s all teamwork, of course. He’s the model and I’m the stylist and photographer.
You see, just minutes earlier, I marched into Kurt’s room and said, “Kurt, I’m shooting some things for my blog. You’re modeling for me. Let me see your wardrobe.” As if he had a choice. And being the kind friend he is, he laughs and says, “Okay.”
And here, in a suit, tie, and pocket square, my friend’s face brightens up. He looks at me with his ocean blue eyes, which seem to be saying, “Dang, I make this look good.” In reality, he’s saying, “Alright. Let’s do this. Let’s get this done.” But I’d like to believe that I witnessed Kurt transform from calm and collected to confident and dauntless. Just weeks ago, I had Kurt dressed as a Southern Californian skater for another one of our photo shoots, but today he’s dressed as a gentleman. He feels like a gentleman. And after getting to know him, I know Kurt is a gentleman.
But here’s the thing every man needs to know: while clothes can help give you the appearance of being a gentleman, it isn’t what makes you a gentleman.
Anyone can look like a gentleman. But being a gentleman is really an action, a lifestyle, and an identity all stitched into one. In other words, if a gentleman looks well put together on the outside, I hope it also reflects how he actually is on the inside, a man who exudes confidence and respect. I believe that in a world of apathy and a lack of direction, a gentleman is a man filled with purpose and passion. In a world of broken promises, a gentleman is a man who keeps his word. With a mission in mind, a gentleman’s mission is not for himself. The mark of a gentleman is seen when a man dares to place others’ needs before his own.
Enter, Urbane + Gallant, a menswear brand who wants men to “do good looking good.”
For a clothing company, Urbane + Gallant is focused on a mission, a noble mission that challenges the notions of what it means to be a man of character today. They want to provide men with clothing that fosters authentic masculinity, accomplishing this mission by bringing ethical and eco-friendly menswear that is also fashionable. At the heart of Urbane + Gallant is the desire to encourage and inspire men to combat global human trafficking, a multi-billion dollar industry that is often served and consumed by men who exploit others for profit.
Currently, Urbane + Gallant is working with Agape International Missions. Together, they employ survivors of human trafficking in the pocket square production, providing survivors double the average monthly income and education.
With 27 million slaves in the world today, I tip my hat to Urbane + Gallant and other brands and companies who either work directly or alongside organizations that do work to end trafficking. I think it’s about time that men step up and become abolitionists. After all, human trafficking isn’t a “women and children only” issue; it’s a human issue!
Kurt has that look on his face again.
It’s his, “What did I get myself into?” look.
I put my camera down, place my hands on his shoulders and tell him, “You look good.” And then I proceed to remind him that as gentlemen, we can’t just look good; we have to do good.