Grit, Grace and the Southern Gentleman (Summer Wedding Preview)

The very stylish woman I am married to is, unsurprisingly, the daughter of a very stylish man. Mickey Braithwaite, my father-in-law, might be one of the coolest dads I’ve ever met. He rides a Harley, loves to travel and indoctrinated Michael at a young age into Echo & the Bunnymen and The Cure.

That’s right. While you and I were listening to Tiffany or whateverthefuck, Michael and her dad were bonding over this:

So, Mickey is cool. He likes for us to send Blue Bottle coffee to Nashville on the regular. He’s a graphic designer with a keen aesthetic sense. He’s also, of course a snappy dresser and 100% a southern gentleman.

Since summer wedding seasons is around the corner, I figured there wouldn’t be anybody better to ask about etiquette, how to transition into middle age and not look like you’ve given up on life and mostly how you, too, can be this cool in your fifties:


Mickey and his wife, Isabel


Yes, that is the correct use of a bow tie.


As you may have guessed, these pictures are all from a summer wedding: ours. The attire was “Great Gatsby garden party,” which Mickey embraced beautifully. Now let’s all learn something.


Mickey on how he buys clothes:


I just see something that catches my eye and think, “I like this, but will this look good on me?” I’ll try it on and it either looks OK, looks much worse than I thought it would, or looks even better on me than I expected. I usually starts with something that is classic and quality, with understated bones but also with enough flexibility for a little zing factor. I want whatever I buy to still look good in five years.


Here is how another southern gentleman saw fit to show up at his daughter’s wedding:


No offense, Bill


I find it hard to believe that Bill Clinton couldn’t have made the time to stop by a tailor before the occasion. So how to avoid the above, and instead roll up like this:


Croquet before Dinner


That is the question. (A few basic pointers: a gentleman respects the rules of the host. If it’s a theme wedding, don’t be a party pooper and also don’t look like you’re in costume. Find your balance. Regarding formality: I always look to the groom. If he’s wearing a jacket, I’m wearing a jacket. End of story).


Back to Mickey and on how getting older fashionably is just about knowing yourself:


I have a better sense of what I like and is right for me at my age and I go for the more expensive stuff. I’m kidding, sort of. Honestly, I’d rather splurge on two quality things that I really like than have ten items that are just OK. Denim has been a constant for me but it has to be the darkest blue you can get and with a cuff. Add some great boots or shoes, a nice oxford shirt (tie optional) or black tee, a tweed sport coat; that’s me. In the winter, I have to have my wool newsboy cap. I have always liked clothes with texture.

This is how to look at a summer wedding happy hour


Mickey on Billy Reid (a designer that inspires him):


I really like the way he takes something traditional–something with history–and gives it a little twist. You end up with an unexpected update and freshness. I think the best tension in design is when the best of the old meets the best of the new. You can’t go wrong with that.

Words of wisdom on how to not look like Bill Clinton (sorry again, Bill!) at a wedding as you get older:


I think the key is to keep thinking young, stay current. Have pride in yourself and have some fun along the way. Life is rich, live it up a little. No matter what age you are, you are never too old to laugh. Then, no matter what you are wearing, you will look and feel great.


And what about being a gentleman? Any rules for that?


Treat everybody with unconditional respect and courtesy.

There you have it, folks. Now get that linen suit ready, slow down at the open bar and put a little thought into your shoes.


About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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